U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
James M. Shrouds
Director, Office of Natural and Human Environment, FHWA
FHWA Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
FTA Regional Administrators
Date: Date: January 30, 2003
Reply to: HEPN-10
This memo concerns the eligibility of transit station rehabilitation for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program funding. Recently, a proposal to rehabilitate a rapid transit station in Chicago led to a disagreement between FHWA and FTA staff on eligibility. In order to help with future eligibility determinations for similar projects, we wanted to inform you of the understandings reached in our discussions on the Chicago proposal.
The CMAQ guidance clearly states that routine maintenance and rehabilitation of existing highway and transit facilities are not eligible. FHWA and FTA both support this basic principle of the guidance. In the Chicago case, there was a difference of opinion about whether the station work was simply routine rehabilitation or whether it involved more substantial changes to the station that were likely to increase ridership and thus reduce emissions. After carefully reviewing details of the station rehabilitation, we agreed that the project qualified for CMAQ funding because the vast majority of the station work involved investments in physical changes to the station for the purpose of increasing capacity. There were routine maintenance activities also included in the project. We decided that since these activities were only a small part of the project's scope, they would be eligible for CMAQ as well. However, if they had been more than a minor part of the project, we would have had to restrict CMAQ funding to only the capacity enhancement elements of the project.
We want to emphasize that this decision does not conflict with anything in the current guidance. This proposal got us into a 'gray area' not addressed in the guidance because the rehabilitation project was more than refurbishment and replacement in kind. In this case, it involved increased passenger capacity on the mezzanine and train platforms, widened staircases, and additional fare gates. Because the "vast majority" of the project involved capacity enhancement, it was found eligible for CMAQ. If the work had mostly entailed bringing the station back to a state of good repair, it would not have been found eligible. As with all other CMAQ projects, the supporting documentation for this project satisfied the basic requirement that emission reductions be demonstrated. Increased ridership was projected based on the station improvements and this was translated into emission reductions, albeit modest reductions. We anticipate adding a discussion on eligibility of station rehabilitation to the CMAQ guidance; however, the guidance will not be updated until new authorizing legislation is enacted.
In the section on "Federal Agency Responsibilities and Coordination," the CMAQ guidance states that FTA determines eligibility for transit projects while FHWA determines eligibility for highway projects. While these determinations are not made jointly, this does not mean they are to be made in isolation. The field office of one agency should always feel free to comment to the other on CMAQ eligibility regarding any project. Just as we try to accommodate concerns EPA might raise with proposed CMAQ projects, we should make every effort to satisfy concerns raised by our own agencies. This may mean turning to the project sponsor to develop additional information that will help in making an eligibility determination. We should always take the time and make the effort to be responsive because it strengthens the collaborative working relationship between our agencies and helps us be consistent on CMAQ eligibility.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this memo or CMAQ eligibility in general, please contact Dan Wheeler (FHWA) at 202-366-2204 or Abbe Marner (FTA) at 202-366-4317.