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Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These FAQs are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. FTA recipients and subrecipients should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable requirements.

Answer:

Emergency recovery work that does not qualify under Categories 1-3 may be funded under the prorated allocations announced on March 29th, 2013, or under a future allocation of Emergency Relief funds. Grantees should provide FTA with a list of projects prior to beginning work in order to verify eligibility.Grantees have pre-award authority for the amounts allocated to them in the March 29, 2013 Federal Register Notice of Allocations, including for work performed after January 29, 2013 (and not in a contract, RFP or budgeted force account prior to January 29) provided that all federal requirements are met or a waiver is granted using the waiver request process detailed in the Notice of Availability of Emergency Relief Funding. Such costs are incurred at the grantees own risk, and there is no guarantee that such costs will be approved for Federal funding.Projects that have costs in excess of the amount allocated in the March 29 notice must request a Letter of No Prejudice (LONP) from the FTA Regional Office prior to incurring costs if they intend to seek Federal funding at a later date. The issuance of an LONP does not guarantee that the project will either be allocated funds or approved for reimbursement.

Answer:

In addition to allocating funds for expenses under categories 1-3, FTA has allocated approximately $1.4 billion to applicants based on projected overall recovery costs as detailed in damage assessments conducted to date and validated by FTA over the past several months. These allocations were published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2013. Recipients may apply for eligible projects in TEAM up to the total amount awarded.

Answer:

Applicants should submit one HMCE analysis for each proposed funding amount, including the total funding request and any reduced alternatives.

Answer:

The HMCE analysis for this type of proposal would show its benefits entirely in the value of passenger time. The analysis should describe the number of passengers who would have shortened trips, or who would be able to get to work when their other travel mode is out of service. Note that this type of project could have a positive cost effectiveness ratio even if it does not reduce any direct damages, provided that the social benefits of the project are large relative to the project cost. FTA will carefully evaluate the methodology used to estimate social benefits in cases where the affected infrastructure is owned or operated by a separate entity. As in other parts of the HMCE analysis, information from previous disasters would be valuable in documenting the impact on passengers.

Answer:

If an applicant is proposing to use their own funds as local match, the documentation of the availability of such funds in a capital or financial plan is recommended. If local match will be provided by a separate entity, a letter that promises the availability of funds should be submitted. Finally, if an applicant will need to raise funds for a project, such as through the issuance of bonds, a description and timeline for that process should be provided.

Answer:

Work that has been budgeted (but for which an RFP has not been advertised) is eligible for funding under the prorated allocation, not under Categories 1-3. The RFP, when issued, will need to comply with all federal requirements unless FTA issues a waiver to the applicant pursuant to the waiver process detailed in the Notice of Availability of Emergency Relief Funding. Force account work associated with that contract should not be requested under Category 3, unless it has independent utility and is not contingent upon a future contract action.

Answer:

An agency may submit an application for a project that involves multiple subcomponents, provided that those components are part of a larger overall resilience proposal. If one or more of the subcomponents need to be undertaken by another agency, the applicant may either serve as the grantee for the entire award, and administer a sub-award to the other agency, or if the other agency is an FTA direct recipient (grantee), the applicant may direct the other agency to apply to FTA separately for its part of the project. In this second case, both agencies will be required to enter into an agreement outlining their mutual responsibilities in accomplishing the project and the terms of their coordination.

Answer:

Any funds awarded for a competitively selected project must be used for that project, consistent with the scope identified in the project proposal. If a project is completed under budget, any remaining funds must be returned to FTA. If funds cannot be used to complete the project as proposed, FTA should be notified immediately, so that funds can be reallocated through the program.

Answer:

As an alternative to the competitive resilience NOFA, some projects may also be eligible for funding that FTA allocated to certain agencies for locally prioritized resilience projects on May 29, 2013. In general, these local priority resiliency funds were intended for resiliency improvements that are integrated with a repair project, or for stand-alone projects that are not complex and/or need to be completed quickly. Grantees should contact their regional office, which must approve local priority resiliency projects.

Answer:

In accordance with the answer to the previous question, if a portion of funds are awarded for a project component that must be undertaken by an intercity passenger rail operator, those funds may be transferred to FRA for administration. If such a proposal is submitted as a single project, the applicant must clearly identify the portion of the project proposed to be administered by the intercity rail operator.

Answer:

In general, responses to the evaluation criteria should be concise enough to fit within the space provided on the supplemental form. Additional files may be submitted if necessary for documentation or backup, however, the supplemental form must still contain a complete summary of your response to the criteria. If additional documents are required (e.g. letters of funding commitment, excerpts from plans or studies, engineering documents), these should be referenced specifically in the response to the relevant evaluation criterion.

Answer:

Costs incurred for recovery that do not involve substantial changes to the location, capacity, or function of the transit asset do not need to be programmed in the TIP/STIP to be reimbursed.  However, FTA recommends that such projects undertaken more than a year after a disaster be programmed in the TIP/STIP to ensure that projects are planned and funded alongside non-emergency transportation projects within the State and/or metropolitan planning region. Recovery projects that include changes to the location, capacity, or function of the transit asset must be in the TIP/STIP prior to incurring costs.  As of November 1, 2013, resilience expenses must be programmed in the TIP/STIP prior to being incurred.

Answer:

If you are an eligible recipient and have eligible response and recovery expenses not yet reimbursed and you did not receive a pro-rated allocation in the March 29th allocation notice, you may be eligible for these funds. Please contact your regional office (either Region 1, 2 or 3) to apply for these Emergency Relief funds. FTA set-aside two percent, or $28,048,497, for affected recipients that suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy and who may have outstanding expenses. If your request is approved, you will be asked to submit an electronic grant application with the regional office.

Answer:

It is reasonable to expect that transit agencies used (and continue to use) their own staff for response and recovery work. Agencies may have ongoing recovery work for which they continue to use their own forces, as opposed to contractors. Any hurricane response/recovery work done by your staff prior to January 29 would fall into Category 1, since the grantee is simply seeking reimbursement. However, if you have plans to continue to use your staff for recovery work that has not yet occurred, then those expenses are eligible under Category 3, as long as you can show documentation that the work is budgeted and ongoing. By budgeted, we mean an amendment to your budget that shows a line item for hurricane response, or something that shows you’ve moved staff off of regular tasks to hurricane response (Board meeting minutes, etc.). If you cannot show us that you have budgeted for that work prior to the 29th, then that work will still be eligible for reimbursement using the agency’s prorated allocation.

Answer:

No. Section 5333(b) aka 13(c) does not apply to the FTA’s Emergency Relief program or funds allocated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013

Answer:

Yes. As permitted by statute (49 U.S.C. 5324(d)(1)), FTA will determine the terms and conditions that apply to grants awarded under the ER Program. Accordingly, FTA requires utilization of integrity monitors for Sandy projects for recipients receiving over $100 million in funding in addition to the standard oversight program. Integrity monitoring is a project administration expense.

Answer:

Although Section 904(c) of the Disaster Relief Act requires that funds received under the Disaster Relief Act be expended within two years of obligation, OMB issued a waiver of this requirement for grants awarded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. In issuing this waiver, OMB stated an expectation that Federal agencies and grantees will work together to ensure that funds obligated under the Disaster Relief Act are expended in a timely manner.
Based on the complexity of projects we expect to be submitted, FTA expects to award funds for major capital projects that will take multiple years to complete. While there is not a defined timeframe in which these funds must be expended, all projects must be undertaken and completed in accordance with the project grant agreement and all identified milestones.

Answer:

FTA has received numerous inquiries regarding the 24 month timeframe. FTA is pursuing a blanket waiver from this requirement for Hurricane Sandy Emergency Relief projects. Further guidance will be provided once it is available.

Answer:

Yes, but Grantees should consult regions on any special requirements for Sandy-grant budget revisions or amendments. Also, any grant modification that increases the federal funds (e.g. grant amendment) will need to comply with all Federal requirements unless the funds being added were part of the initial allocation for expenses within categories 1, 2, or 3.

Answer:

In general, the acquisition of spare parts is an eligible capital expense under FTA’s Emergency Relief program. Pursuant to the May 29, 2013 Federal Register Notice, FTA will review proposed local priority resiliency projects based on information included in the program of projects, including the resiliency justification. The acquisition of additional spare parts may be justified in cases where an extreme weather event or other emergency would accelerate the consumption of particular parts (e.g. replacement parts for modular flood barriers or pump equipment), where spare parts likely to be affected by an emergency require extended lead times, or where a higher standing inventory of a particular item has been otherwise identified as necessary as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Provisions of the DOT Common Grant Rule 49 CFR Part 18 Section 18.32 apply to the acquisition of spare parts.

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