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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.

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No. This Competitive Resilience NOFA is for resilience projects only, which may include upgrades or other improvements to existing assets. Recovery project should be funded from the initial Category 1-3 allocations or the pro-rated recovery allocations published by FTA on March 28, 2013 and May 29, 2013. If an agency has repair and recovery costs exceeding the amount that has been allocated to date (less any insurance settlements), they should discuss this with FTA.

Answer:

Yes, an applicant may apply for funding for a project that has previously been funded through FTA’s Emergency Relief Program or other programs, however, the funds must be for elements of the project for which funds are currently not obligated. This includes projects that are in the design or engineering stages for which federal funding has been received or resiliency components of a federally funded recovery project if the applicant can demonstrate it has not received sufficient funding from FTA already to carry out the resiliency components. Note that FTA will not allocate competitive resilience funds in cases where they would displace other Federal funds that have been obligated on existing projects. Projects funded from local or state funds may not be eligible if they did not receive FTA pre-award authority or if they do not comply with Federal requirements.

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The applicant must demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to complete the resilience project. If a resiliency projects is dependent on another project being implemented, the applicant must demonstrate they have funding committed (whether federal, state or local) to carry out the other project.

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The 100% Federal share is only for specific emergency operations and emergency protective measures incurred between October 30- November 14, 2012 in affected areas in CT, NY, and NJ. These costs include: evacuations; rescue operations; moving rolling stock to higher ground in order to protect it from storm surges; additional bus or ferry service to replace inoperable rail service or to detour around damaged areas; returning evacuees to their homes after the hurricane; and the net project costs related to reestablishing, expanding, or relocating public transportation service before, during, or after the hurricane. Eligible costs include emergency protective measures (capital projects) intended to protect transit infrastructure from Hurricane Sandy and that were undertaken to respond to the immediate aftermath of the storm. Eligible costs incurred prior to October 30, 2012 or after November 14, 2012 are eligible for reimbursement at a 90% Federal share.

Answer:

Force account is the use of a grantee’s own labor force to carry out a capital project. Force account work may consist of design, construction, refurbishment, inspection, and construction management activities, if eligible for reimbursement under the grant. Incremental labor costs from flagging protection, service diversions, or other activities directly related to the capital grant may also be defined as force account work.Documentation can include a force account plan for the work accomplished or planned, or any other documentation that reflects that in-house labor forces were "budgeted" as of January 29th to accomplish the work.

Answer:

Yes. Applicants should include the customer impact of repair projects together with the customer impact from direct storm damage in the same section of the HMCE analysis. Please show how each estimated interruption is estimated and how the user impacts are calculated for each. If multiple types of customer impacts are included, please provide a separate analysis showing how each was calculated.

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Since a significant portion of the seriously damaged transit infrastructure was technologically obsolete, and hence not appropriate to replace in kind or restore to the exact previous condition, FTA will fund repair and replacement projects that bring transit assets up to a state of good repair.Specifically, when repairing or replacing facilities and infrastructure damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, the following activities are eligible for Emergency Relief funding: 1) replacement of older features with new ones; 2) incorporation of current design standards; 3) replacement of a destroyed facility at a different location when replacing at the existing location is not practical or feasible; and 4) additional required features resulting from the NEPA process. The incorporation of improvements or changes designed solely to improve the resiliency of transit infrastructure is not considered a state of good repair improvement under this eligibility. Further guidance on mitigation and resiliency improvements will be forthcoming.Rolling stock and other equipment used in public transportation that was damaged or destroyed before the end of its useful life may be replaced with new rolling stock and equipment.

Answer:

FTA will make determinations on a case-specific basis, which may require recipients to submit contract documents to FTA for review. Generally, costs that are incurred after January 29th, such as by amending a contract, exercising options on a contract for additional work, or ordering previously un-budgeted tasks on an indefinite quantity contract, would not qualify for category 2, and would need to comply with all federal requirements, or would need to seek a waiver of specific requirements through the FTA docket as described in the March 29, 2013 Notice of Allocation. The docket is available on www.regulations.gov, and the docket number for calendar year 2013 is FTA–2013–0001. However, issuing future task orders on an existing contract for which funds were already committed (such as for storm clean-up/debris removal work) may be eligible under Category 2.

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This means that FTA will consider a recipient’s acceptance of a standard base flood elevation of one foot above FEMA’s best available flood hazard information as a minimum requirement for funding under this program. All recipients must indicate how this floodplain management guideline has been considered in project selection and design.

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If the expenses have already been paid out of a contingency in the budget, then they are Category 1 expenses and do not require documentation of budgeting, which is for future expenditures. For future expenditures to be paid from a contingency, there should be some documentation showing either budgeting or approval of the use of the contingency line item (Board meeting minutes, for example). This documentation should be included in the initial proposal.

Answer:

For the ABFE+1/FEMA Best Available+1 requirement, applicants must submit documentation showing that they have identified the appropriate flood hazard area and the best available base flood elevation for the project location, or locations, as applicable. Applicant must also provide an explanation of how a proposed project was designed to make the asset resilient based on this flood hazard information. Applicants should cite the relevant FEMA map source and/or FEMA flood insurance study for the project location.

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Funds made available for the FTA Emergency Relief Program are available until expended, and thus do not have a lapse date. Once obligated, funds must be expended within 24 months. FTA is working to resolve questions and concerns regarding this issue and will post information as it becomes available.

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The FHWA and FTA joint planning rule (23 CFR 450.324) provides that "emergency relief projects" that do not involve substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes are not required to be included in the TIP/STIP. For purposes of FTA's Emergency Relief Program (ERP), "emergency relief projects" may include recovery funded projects, and if applicable, integral resiliency-elements for the said specific recovery projects. Generally, it does not apply to stand-alone or auxiliary resiliency projects funded out of a project sponsor's local priority resiliency allocation or future competitive resiliency allocations. For these category of projects and others that would not qualify under the exception, grantees must ensure the projects funded under this program are included in the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs.To qualify for this exception, the grantee must certify in writing that the project funded under FTA’s ERP does not involve substantial functional, locational or capacity changes and that the local share is available. The Grantee must submit this documentation to FTA in order for the project to be considered eligible for federal participation. If a Grantee is unsure whether a project qualifies as one of the exceptions, it should contact the FTA. If during the grant award process the FTA determines that the exception does not apply to a specific project that the Grantee certified, then that project must be programmed on the TIP/STIP. Absent a certification stating that the project qualifies as one of the exceptions or a previously issued waiver, the FTA expects projects funded under FTA’s ERP be included in the TIP/STIP prior to incurring costs.

Answer:

Recipients affected by Hurricane Sandy may request an FTA Administrator determination that certain terms and conditions not apply when the requirement(s) will limit a recipient’s or sub-recipient’s ability to respond to an emergency or major disaster. Recipients must follow the procedures as set forth in 49 CFR part 601, subpart D when requesting such a determination or seeking a waiver of administrative requirements. The docket is available on www.regulations.gov, and the docket number for calendar year 2013 is FTA–2013–0001. More information is available in the Notice of Availability of Emergency Relief Funding.

Answer:

There is no fixed starting date for eligible costs, since different parts of the region may have started preparations at different times. Costs that were incurred in preparation for the storm's landfall during the time that the storm was forecast to hit an affected area are eligible for reimbursement at a 90% Federal share under this announcement unless otherwise noted.

Answer:

Applicants should indicate when a resilience project can be undertaken either in multiple phases or multiple independent elements, provided that each phase or element can be completed independently and will serve to make the transportation system more resilient. If funding is not available for an entire project, FTA may consider awarding funds for one or more scalable project phases or elements. Applicants should identify the proposed scope and reduced funding amount for each scalable alternative, and must complete a separate HMCE analysis for each alternative.

Answer:

If an applicant believes the FTA HMCE analysis tool does not capture all of the resilience benefits of a proposed project, the applicant should provide additional information in the qualitative benefits section of the HMCE tool, which is located beneath the projects apparent benefit cost ratio (BCR). Other benefits may also be quantified by an applicant and submitted separately, however, in such a case the applicant must submit a highly detailed explanation of how and why the alternative analysis differs from the HMCE tool. FTA will carefully scrutinize the justification, as well as the procedures and methodology provided together with the results of the HMCE tool.

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The slides and training guides from these presentations can be found on FTA’s emergency relief website. Please contact us at FTASandyResilience@dot.gov if you are interested in obtaining a recording of the webinars.

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FTA has the discretion to permit a recipient to use Section 5324 Emergency Relief Program funds to support a limited competition procurement.Pursuant to FTA’s authorizing statute at 49 U.S.C. § 5325(a), an FTA recipient is required to use FTA funds to support project activities using full and open competition. A recipient may conduct a sole source procurement in very limited circumstances under the Common Grant Rule at 49 C.F.R. Part 18.36. A recipient does not have explicit authority, by law, to conduct a limited competition procurement.Notwithstanding this framework, FTA has the discretionary authority under 49 C.F.R. Part 601, Subpart D to waive its requirements through the Emergency Relief Docket in cases involving national or regional emergencies and disasters. Given this authority, FTA will entertain requests for emergency relief waivers from FTA’s full and open competition requirement, and FTA will consider requests to approve limited competition procurements. To be clear, a request for a waiver is not a guarantee of a waiver. FTA maintains the discretion to grant or deny a waiver request.If a recipient is interested in pursuing a limited competition procurement, then it must obtain an emergency relief waiver of FTA’s full and open competition requirement pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 601, Subpart D and FTA’s Federal Register Notice of Establishment of Emergency Relief Docket for Calendar Year 2013 dated February 15, 2013 (available at www.regulations.gov, docket number FTA-2013-0001). A request for a waiver should be addressed to the Administrator, and it should contain a compelling justification and any relevant supporting documentation as to why a waiver should be granted. The recipient should upload its request into the Emergency Relief Docket. FTA will process the request in accordance with 49 C.F.R. Part 601, Subpart D. A recipient may not award a limited competition contract supported by Section 5324 Emergency Relief Program funds prior to FTA’s written approval.FTA strongly recommends that recipients submit requests for waivers as early as practicable in the procurement process. A recipient should submit such a request at the time it determines the best strategy is a limited competition procurement. Recipients should not assume that waiver requests will be granted.

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