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2012 Discretionary Grant Programs

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Rail Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination In High Speed Rail Corridors - Selection Criteria and Additional Information

Statutory References

23 U.S.C. § 104

Program Summary

Section 1010 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 amended 23 U.S.C. § 104(d) to authorize the Secretary of Transportation to provide funding from the Surface Transportation Program for a new apportionment entitled "Railway-Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination in High-Speed Rail Corridors." The purpose of the program is to provide funding for safety improvements at both public and private highway-railroad grade crossings located along Federally-designated high-speed rail (HSR) corridors. Section 1103(c) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) continued the program in 1998, and Section 1103(f) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) further continued the program in 2005. More information regarding the history of this program can be found at the Federal Railroad Administration website at the following link: [http://www.fra.dot.gov/rpd/passenger/fp_HSR_grade_crossing.shtml]

ISTEA and TEA-21 authorized the Secretary of Transportation to designate eleven HSR corridors across the country, which is the foundation for the distribution of funding authorized under Section 1103(f) of SAFETEA-LU. Since December 18, 1991, all eleven HSR Corridors, some of which were specifically mandated by Congress, have been authorized. More information regarding the HSR Corridor designations and extensions are located at the following link: [http://www.fra.dot.gov/rpd/passenger/2343.shtml].

Section 1103(f) of SAFETEA-LU authorized $15 million in funding for "Railway-Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination in High-Speed Rail Corridors" in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009. Congress extended funding for this program in FY 2010 and FY 2011 with $15 million for each of the two fiscal years, and extended the program for six months into FY 2012 (until March 31, 2012) with $7.1 million. This solicitation is for the funding available under the FY 2012 authority.

* Should Congress appropriate additional funding for this program beyond the $7.1 million already appropriated for FY 2012, FHWA and FRA will make additional awards from the pool of applicants received in response to this current solicitation. FHWA and FRA will evaluate the applications for award for up to the full amount authorized at the time the award selection is made by the Secretary of Transportation.

Special Instructions to the States of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota:

Section 1103(f) of SAFETEA-LU included a set-aside of $3 million for the Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul segment of the Midwest HSR Corridor in FY 2009. This set-aside was extended in FY 2010 and FY 2011; however, the Secretary of Transportation determined the set-aside to be "sufficiently funded" and no additional funds were directed to the Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul segment in FY 2011. The six month extension of SAFETEA-LU into FY 2012 authorizes $1.5 million for the set-aside, but this set-aside remains subject to review for determination as to whether the Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul segment is considered "sufficiently funded."

The States of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota may submit individual applications for projects totaling $1.5 million from the FY 2012 set-aside, which will be evaluated for eligibility separately from the applications submitted under the FY 2012 Notice of Funding Availability. Should the Secretary determine the set-aside to be "sufficiently funded," these applications will not be considered for further review or award. The States of Illinois, Wisconsin or Minnesota may, however, submit separate applications for evaluation among the population of applications received for the discretionary funding that is not included in the set-aside.

Funding

Funded by contract authority; funds are not transferable. Funds are subject to the overall Federal-aid highway obligation limitation.

Federal Share

The Federal share of the costs of projects selected to receive funding under this program shall not exceed 80 percent; however, certain projects are eligible for up to 100 percent Federal funding, as defined in 23 U.S.C. § 120 (c).

Eligible Use of Funds

Applications must meet the following eligibility criteria:

Project Selection Criteria

FHWA and FRA have not established regulatory criteria for the selection of HSR Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination projects; however, eligible and complete applications will be evaluated by technical panels comprised of subject-matter experts against the following criteria:

The FHWA and FRA Administrators may also take into account the following criteria to further ensure that projects selected for funding will advance key priorities related to transportation safety and the development of high-speed and intercity passenger rail:

Policy Considerations

Restoring economic health and creating jobs through improvements to transportation infrastructure are among the highest priorities of the FHWA and FRA.   In furtherance of these priorities, the FHWA and FRA will give priority consideration to projects and activities that create new jobs in the short-term and contribute to the economic competitiveness of the United States over the long-term.  Applicants are encouraged to explain how their project will contribute to increased employment and enhance economic competitiveness. 

In addition to a project's transportation and economic benefits, when allocating funds to carry out the FY 2012 discretionary programs, the FHWA and FRA will also give consideration to providing an equitable and geographic distribution of funds.

Submission Requirements

Applicants shall submit an electronic copy of the application (containing all required components) via email to the appropriate FHWA Division Office on or before January 6, 2012. Applicants shall also submit an electronic copy of the application to the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Railroad Policy and Development, courtesy Randall Brown at 202-493-6370, Randall.Brown@dot.gov. The official application of record will be the document submitted to the FHWA Division Office.

Required and optional documentation are outlined below:

* Note - Applications for pre-construction or construction activities require the submission of different OMB Standard Forms. If an application is requesting funding for both pre-construction and construction activities, submit only the forms required for construction projects.

Announcement of Awards / Allocation of Funds

After the applications are received and projects are selected for funding, it is required that Congress be notified before the funds are allocated to the States. When this Congressional notification process is completed, the FHWA Office of Safety Technologies and the FRA Office of Railroad Policy and Development will issue an announcement by email to all FHWA division offices, announcing the HSR projects that will be funded and the amount of funding for each project.

At that time, States may request that funds be allocated for any projects for which the funds are ready to be obligated. The State transportation agency shall send an email to the FHWA division office indicating the project, the amount requested for allocation, and the date by which the funds will be obligated. The FHWA Office of Safety Technologies will issue the allocation memorandum within a few days of receiving the allocation request from the division office.

FHWA Point of Contact

Guan Xu
Office of Safety Technologies
202-366-5892
Guan.Xu@dot.gov

FRA Point of Contact

Randall Brown
Office of Railroad Policy and Development
202-493-6370
Randall.Brown@dot.gov

 

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