Section 1116: Prioritization of Projects to Improve Freight Movement Questions & Answers
Question 1116-1: May projects be eligible for increased Federal share under Section 1116 before the performance targets for freight movement under 23 U.S.C. 150(d) (MAP-21 § 1203) are established? (Section 1116(b)(1))
Answer 1116-1: The Secretary, in consultation with the Department's newly created Freight Policy Council, will approve a project for increased Federal share up until the time specified in 23 U.S.C. 150(d) for States to have established targets. After that time, the State will need to demonstrate how a project makes progress toward meeting the targets for freight movement. However, during the interim period until the targets are established, States should describe how the project makes progress toward achieving the national goal for freight movement and economic vitality under 23 U.S.C. 150(b)(5) to improve the national freight network, strengthen the ability of rural communities to access national and international trade markets, and support regional economic development.
Question 1116-2: What documentation is needed to demonstrate the improvement made by the project to the efficient movement of freight? (Section 1116(b)(1))
Answer 1116-2: Until the performance targets under 23 U.S.C. 150(d) are established, the project sponsor must demonstrate how the project will improve the efficient movement of freight. This demonstration should be made by providing a detailed discussion describing the following: (1) justification that the project is a freight project; (2) a description of the freight mobility need the project will address; (3) a reference to the pertinent project information in the State Freight Plan; and (4) a description of how the project would make progress toward achieving the performance target established under 23 U.S.C. 150(d) or, if targets have not yet been established, progress toward achieving the national goal for freight movement and economic vitality under 23 U.S.C. 150(b)(5) to improve the national freight network, strengthen the ability of rural communities to access national and international trade markets, and support regional economic development. This description should include a comparison between forecasted conditions if the project is not built (the baseline) and anticipated conditions after the project is complete, focusing on such factors as travel time savings, improvements in travel time reliability, congestion reduction, etc. There are several reports and resources available that can be used to obtain an understanding of the current state of the practice in freight performance measurement.
Question 1116-3: Can a State request project authorizations with the increased Federal share during the interim implementation period if their State Freight Plan or Long Range Transportation Plan is not fully compliant with the Department's guidance on Section 1118- State Freight Plans?
Answer 1116-3: Section 1118(b) specifies the minimum elements that a State Freight Plan must address. For States that currently have a State Freight Plan, the Division Office should determine the extent to which it complies with Section 1118(b) and includes the minimum elements listed in that section. If the Division Office determines the plan does not satisfy the six necessary elements, the Division and State should discuss the steps necessary to bring the plan into full compliance with Section 1118 guidance.
Section 1116 should serve as an incentive for States that have not developed freight plans to do so. If the State has no freight plan and only a cursory treatment of freight needs in the Statewide Long Range Plan, then they would not be able to use the increased Federal share.
Question 1116-4: Must a State have a State Freight Plan in order to receive the increased Federal share under Section 1116? (Section 1116(b)(2))
Answer 1116-4: Yes. While Section 1118 does not mandate that any State have a State Freight Plan, Section 1116(b)(2) expressly requires that a project be included in a State Freight Plan in order to be eligible for the increased Federal share. Section 1118(c) permits the State Freight Plan to be developed independently or incorporated as part of the Freight Section of the Long-Range Transportation Plan.
Question 1116-5: Can projects be drawn from State Rail Plans, MPO freight plans, the freight chapters of metropolitan transportation plans or a freight study? (Section 1116(b)(2))
Answer 1116-5: MAP-21 Section 1116 clearly states that to be eligible for an increased Federal share, projects must be identified in a State Freight Plan developed under section 1118. Section 1118(c) permits the State Freight Plan to be developed independently or incorporated as part of the Freight Section of the Long-Range Transportation Plan. If the State chooses to incorporate State Rail Plans, MPO freight plans, elements of a freight study and any projects included therein, either in whole or by reference, into the State Freight Plan or the Freight Section of the Long-Range Transportation Plan, the requirements of this section would be satisfied, provided the referenced document satisfies the requirements of Section 1118 and identifies how the project addresses freight needs.
Question 1116-6: What is the definition of "intermodal connector"? (Section 1116(c)(10))
Answer 1116-6: These are the freight intermodal connectors designated as part of the National Highway System. The list of designated connectors can be found on FHWA's Web site at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/national_highway_system/intermodal_connectors/. The Division Office should encourage states to review their current list of connectors and determine if additional roadways are eligible to be designated if they meet the freight-related requirements of Appendix D to Subpart A of 23 CFR Part 470. Reference should also be made to FHWA's interim guidance on MAP-21 Section 1104 (National Highway System designation).
Question 1116-7: Is there a national listing of freight bottlenecks? (Section 1116(c)(11))
Answer 1116-7: The FHWA has not yet developed an authoritative list of national freight bottlenecks, but the FHWA will produce one as part of the National Freight Strategic Plan required under 23 U.S.C. 167(f). One example of a national bottleneck list is the FHWA Freight Performance Measures Bottleneck List prepared in coordination with the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). This list identifies congestion conditions at 250 highway locations that handle significant freight volumes. During the interim period before FHWA develops an authoritative list of national freight bottlenecks, States can use this list or their own analysis of freight bottlenecks on their network to identify locations in their plans.
Question 1116-8: Are there any examples of State Freight Plans that a Division Office can refer to? (Section 1118)
Answer 1116-8: The FHWA maintains a website with State Freight Plans and freight studies (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/resources/frt_solutions/). Reviewing these plans might be particularly useful in understanding how freight projects are currently addressed in State Freight Plans. Based on a cursory review of existing plans, we have found that many plans may not have project specific information and/or all of the required elements outlined under Section 1118. If your State has a State Freight Plan or a Long Range Transportation Plan with freight sections, it is suggested that your Division Office take a proactive approach and work with your State to make sure the plan includes a sufficient amount of project level information and addresses the minimum, required elements outlined under Section 1118 so that the Division Office will be able to authorize a project with the increased Federal share under the provisions of Section 1116.
Question 1116-9: If my State is interested in developing a State Freight Plan, are there any guidelines or templates that can be used? (Section 1118).
Answer 1116-9: The Department has issued guidance on Section 1118; it is found at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/15/2012-25261/interim-guidance-on-state-freight-plans-and-state-freight-advisory-committees.
Question 1116-10: How does a State request the increased Federal share for a freight project under the provisions of Section 1116?
Answer 1116-10: During the interim implementation period, a request for increased Federal share should be sent to the Office of Operations through the Division Office. Eligible projects must be included in a State Freight Plan (SFP) pursuant to Section 1118 guidance provided by the Department.
The FHWA Division Office will review and comment on the project request and forward the request to the FHWA Headquarters, to the attention of Ms. Crystal Jones, at the following address:
HOFM-1, E84-440 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590S
The Secretary, in consultation with the Department's newly created Freight Policy Council, will review the request and decide whether to certify the project as eligible for the increased Federal share.
This process may change at the end of the interim implementation period. Additional guidance will be provided at that time.
Question 1116-11: Will there be a State Freight Plan compliance review process?
Answer 1116-11: Although State Freight Plans are not required by MAP-21, it is highly recommended that the State submit its plan to the Department (Office of Operations via Division Office) for confirmation that it is in conformance with the section 1118 guidance before requesting the increased Federal Share under Section 1116.
Question 1116-12: The provision states the project shall be " . . . identified in a State Freight Plan developed pursuant to section1118". Does this mean there must be a list of projects in the State Freight Plan?
Answer 1116-12: As a general matter, a State Freight Plan under section 1118 is not required to include a specific list of projects. However, if a State wants to take advantage of the increased Federal Share under section 1116 for a prioritized project, the State Freight Plan must either identify the specific project, or include a planned investment strategy in sufficient detail in the plan (i.e. the plan identifies a specific facility, investment type, location, etc.) such that a specific project can later be identified as being part of that investment strategy whenever project authorization occurs.
Question 1116-13: Must a State Freight Plan be a separate stand-alone document?
Answer 1116-13: No. Section 1118(c) provides that a State Freight Plan may be developed separate from or incorporated into the statewide strategic long-range transportation plan. However, if incorporated into the statewide strategic long-range plan, this freight section will be deemed a State Freight Plan only if it meets the requirements of Section 1118.
Question 1116-14: How long will it take for my plan and project to be reviewed?
Answer 1116-14: A first-time submission that includes a State freight plan and project could take a few months to review, depending on the complexity and other factors. Because of the timeline for approval, States should be encouraged to submit project approval requests no fewer than four months before anticipated project authorization request.
Question 1116-15: Is there a mechanism to allow the project to proceed before a decision on increased Federal share?
Answer 1116-15: Yes. A project may be authorized with advance construction in accordance with 23 CFR 630 Subpart G. As long as there are no Federal funds obligated at the time of authorization, the Federal share is not required to be established until the advance construction is converted and Federal funds are obligated, in accordance with 23 CFR 630.106(c). It is imperative that when considering projects for the increased Federal share, the FHWA Division Finance Manager and State Financial Manager provide guidance on setting up the project in the Financial Management Information System (FMIS) and that the level of match not be designated in FMIS for advance construction. The State and FHWA Division are further cautioned that an Advance Construction project should not be converted until a decision has been rendered by the Secretary on increasing the Federal share. Once Federal funds have been obligated and the Federal share has been established, the Federal share is governed by 23 CFR 630.106(f)(1)-(3).
Question 1116-16: Can the increased Federal share be applied to projects for which Federal funds have already been obligated?
Answer 1116-16: No. Once Federal funds have been obligated and the Federal share has been established, the Federal share is governed by 23 CFR 630.106(f)(1)-(3).
Question 1116-17: What happens if my project has multiple segments, or is part of a larger project that may have some component that is already authorized?
Answer 1116-17: Documentation should be provided that clearly distinguishes the segment for which the State is requesting an increase in Federal share. Such documentation could include, but is not limited to financial plans, bid documents, project scope, schedule, and budget.
Question 1116-18: What if a State is submitting a project that is a portion of a multi-state project. Are there any special requirements such as a copy of the other States’ freight plans and/or a letter of support from other affected States?
Answer 1116-18: While there are no official requirements, any documentation from the neighboring State that shows support for the project requesting consideration of the increased Federal share is encouraged. If the increased share is requested from both States’ apportionments, both States’ freight plans might be evaluated for compliance with MAP-21 Section 1118 and for relevance to the project.
Question 1116-19: Where can I find the State’s total apportionment that will allow me to calculate whether the state is within the 10 percent allowance established in the interim guidance?
Answer 1116-19: Information about each State’s total apportionment for FY 2014 is available in the following document: “Apportionment of Federal-aid Highway Program Funds for FY 2014 Authorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)” . A similar document is produced before the start of each Federal fiscal year. Requests for an increased Federal share will be based on the apportionment year in which the funds are being requested.