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Talking Freight

Tiger 3

July 27, 2011 Talking Freight Transcript

Presentations

John Kennedy
Okay. I will be bringing in the presentation, and then we will get started. Thank you for everyone who is participating today. I know we here at the department are very excited about a third round of TIGER. We have heard you all are excited as well. We are going to be running some of the basic information of the program, and we will be covering the competitive areas. We really want to open it up to questions, and we want to hear what kind of questions the people out in the country had. So to get started- next slide, please- you can see here, that TIGER has been a very successful program across the whole country, we have projects all over the place, and we have multi-modal, merit-based programs. But, in terms of freight, freight programs have done really well in TIGER. We've heard from the freight community that they're very happy about the program and having that ability to seek funding for freight infrastructure. Especially ports have been very pleased with having an avenue for federal funding for infrastructure improvement.

This year, I will go over - most of you probably know the genesis of TIGER, of being a $1.5 billion program that was established in the American Reinvestment Recovery Act for merit-based multi-modal grant programs. Last year in the FY 2010 appropriations, we were fortunate to receive an additional $600 million for awards. One new thing that happened last year is that we were able to do up to $35 million for planning grant activity. So we coordinated with HUD and EPA and it doesn't really seem like rocket science to coordinate federal investments between agencies, but this really was groundbreaking stuff in terms of we actually got with HUD and EPA and looked at these applications for things like TOD, Complete Street, various planning activities, and it was a huge success and we're really proud of that. And then, we were kind of in limbo for a bit with the program getting zeroed out, it wasn't there and then it was back during the budget debate. But we ended up with $527 million for FY 2011. Most of the features of the program remain the same when compared to last year. We still have a minimum set aside of $140 million for the rural areas. A question that we often get is 'What is defined as a rural area?' It's very simple; it is any area that is outside of an urbanized area that is defined by the census. So, even if you're in a community of 10 to 20,000, if your jurisdiction lies within a larger urbanized area, then unfortunately you will be considered as urban. We have up to $150 million available for the TIFIA subsidy payments, and we're definitely excited about that opportunity as well. And to put things in context in terms of award size, in TIGER 1 the average award was about $25 to $30 million, and then in TIGER 2 that drops to $13 million, so that might give you an idea of the sweet spot for funding amounts. We're also required by Congress to have geographic diversity, modal balance, and urban/rural balance as well.

In terms of key dates, September 9th is when the pre-application system opens. So from September 9th until October 3rd, you can log-in to our site, and put in your pre-application. It's not going to be a complicated process; the pre-application will consist of some basic questions about your project, yes/no questions, and a 50 word description of the project. We use the pre-application here at DOT to help us structure our evaluation task force. Additionally, we have it for technical assistance for applicants, because if you have curable deficiencies that we identify in the pre-application, then we will get with you before the final application to try to correct those curable deficiencies. So, the final applications are due October 31. Once the pre-applications are done, we will be moving in to the final application. When final applications are due, we are no longer able to speak with any potential applicants. So please, we welcome any questions, de-briefs from previous rounds of TIGER, or if you want to talk about criteria and how you understand it as applying to a certain aspect of your project, we are always happy to do that.

Some of the major changes from TIGER3, it is mostly the same, but the 3 differences are: like I said we don't have any planning funds available for this round, we are looking at capital funding only; we are instituting a 3-application limit per lead applicant or sponsor. This applies in all cases except if it is a multi-state application. If multiple State DOTs are getting together for the multi-state application, then they will not be counting against the limit. The three application limit also applies only to lead applicants, however an agency or State DOT can be listed as a partner agency on multiple applications, which would not count against the limit. We are also requiring for any TIFIA applicants to also provide a TIFIA letter of interest to the TIFIA office.

We're going to run through some basic areas in terms of keys to a competitive application. One that we get a lot is eligibility, on the next slide. Essentially, we are looking at Surface Transportation capital project so airports are not eligible but access to airports is eligible. And dredging is not eligible, but port improvements, landside, and any other port infrastructure other than dredging is eligible. In terms of applicants, it's open to any governmental entity, State, Local, Tribal, MPO, Transit authority, Port authority, any kind of subdivision of a state or local government is eligible. Private entities and non-profits, if they're interested in applying, they can, they just should make sure to partner with a public entity to be the lead applicant. For urban grants, basically the minimum grant award is $10 million. For rural, it is $1 million. There is no match required for rural, and there is a 20% match required for urbanized. I will say, even though there is no match required for the rural areas, in the past, the rural projects that have been awarded have a good match most of the time.

So we like to emphasize that eligibility does not necessarily correlate with competitiveness. Keep in mind with the TIGER program we are trying to do significant projects that can be a showcase for around the country, so that is important to realize. So, just because it's eligible it doesn't mean it's competitive. We hope that you will get together with staff and put your heads together and provide us with your most innovative and daring visions for projects. In terms of addressing the criteria, there is an application outline in the notice of funding availability (NOFA). We recommend that you follow that outline. Our deputy assistant secretary, Beth Osborne, likes to say that you should be creative with your project, not your application. We have evaluation teams that will be going through upwards of 100 applications in a few weeks. So the more you can do to keep it according to the format so that the reviewers can easily digest information about your project, that's very helpful.

Also, just addressing the selection criteria and how the funds will be used, the criteria have not changed from the last round. It's still the same primary and secondary criteria, and the best projects do a good job of hitting on multiple criteria.

Please ensure your applications are clear, ensure that your project descriptions are short and concise, and provide maps and diagrams. We'd love to go out and visit your jurisdiction but anything that you can do to let us visualize the project and how it will impact the community will be great. If you can focus on how your project is compelling that helps us a lot. You have 25 pages to work with, and you probably do have a beautiful town but you don't have to spend 3 or 4 pages talking about how great your town is. But I'm sure we'd still love to visit.

In terms of leveraging your investment on the next slide, leveraging your investment is very important. We're very proud of the fact that for TIGER, we've been able to leverage roughly $2 for every $1 of grant award. In fact, in the first round of TIGER it was $3 for every $1. So, really, the more you can do to show that different entities have skin in the game, that's great. 20% is the minimum for urban areas, but we've seen upwards to 30, 40, 50% matches on projects before. If it's a public/private project, and this is really important for a freight audience, if there's a private entity that's going to be receiving benefits from a project, we definitely expect to see some match-in from that private entity. They need to be able to provide some funding to the project if there is going to be private benefit. We also have TIFIA payments available and we're encouraging applicants to consider whether TIFIA could be a viable option. In fact the NOFA specifies that we reserve the right to offer a TIGER TIFIA Payment to applicants who did not specifically request a TIGER TIFIA Payment. We'll be having a P3 and TIFIA webinar in a couple weeks that will drill down into that aspect of TIGER.

I'm going to run through how our evaluation process works so that you can get a better idea of where the department is coming from when they look at your application. For TIGER 2, we had about 1000 applications for capital projects. Those were distributed to about 10 three person teams which consisted of technical career staff at DOT. Applications were scored solely based on criteria and the NOFA, the primary and secondary criteria. From there, about 10-15% of projects were elevated to the senior review team, which consists of senior departmental leadership. They receive presentations on the projects from the reviewers and there's also an additional level of analysis for a detailed Benefit/Cost analysis and a NEPA environmental readiness analysis.

The leadership is very concerned with making sure that projects awarded will be ready to go by the time we need to obligate, and also they have to put together a puzzle of projects to meet the $500 million total. So the more flexible you can be in your application, the better. The more options you can provide in terms of segments of your project, and phases and financial options, that really helps us in terms of allowing flexibility. We encourage that. If you break your project up into segments, please also do that in your BCA. Most of our projects end up getting a haircut before they're awarded. So, the projects that are able to provide those options to the leadership, in terms of segments and financial options, like for $20 million you get this, and for $15 million you get that, that really helps make an application competitive. And closing that out, phases need to be completing an operable segment and TIGER grants have to be used for projects that have independent utility on their own. So it can't be a piece of a larger project. We have done this before, but the piece which is funded by TIGER has to have independent utility.

Continuing on project readiness and NEPA, we have a deadline of Sept. 30, 2013 by which all of our TIGER funds need to be obligated or else we lose that money. So, DOT needs to have assurance that your project can be outlaid by several months before that at the latest. That's why we have checks for NEPA status in your project readiness. We reach out to regional staff since they're very familiar with projects most of the time. If you have relationships with regional staff, make sure they're aware of where your process is in terms of NEPA. That can only help since we'll reach out to them. We definitely encourage initiating NEPA in advance of the application process. With that being said in terms of freight, we do recognize that for some types of freight projects, for instance a port project, TIGER might be the only federal action in terms of federal financing for that project. So we do understand that NEPA may not be initiated yet, but please try to provide an appropriate explanation for where NEPA stands.

In terms of freight, I am sure you all know that freight projects have been very competitive in TIGER. About 1/3 of our funding, about $670 million out of $2.1 billion have gone for freight projects; about $500 million for rail and $200 million for ports. So, eligibility is wide, port infrastructure, freight rail, essentially anything except for dredging, dredging is not eligible under TIGER. We've had port projects where you mix port improvements and rail improvements on the port. We've had short line rail projects out in rural areas that have been very successful. We've had the Crescent Corridor, Create in Chicago. These huge freight rail projects have been successful in urban areas as well. We don't want to leave out roads and highways and trucking. We've had some interesting applications related to road freight and trucking. So this is a great opportunity for rural areas. We like to remind everyone we are required to spend at least $140 million in rural areas. If you're a port in a rural area, we'd encourage you to do a buy for this program just by the nature of the way it's set up. There's a set pot there that's just for rural areas.

Also on the next slide, in terms of freight, the key criteria that most freight projects hit on are economic competitiveness of course, since freight is the lifeline of our economy, state of good repair, and also environmental sustainability. We've had lots of rail and port projects that claim to shift truck traffic to rail or port or marine, so that's a savings in terms of emissions from the trucks. We've had Quonset Port where they were dealing with wind turbines and the cargo itself can be a part of environmental sustainability. So those are three criteria that a good freight project should definitely hit upon. Although we've had freight projects that hit on all criteria as well, and definitely you need to address all the criteria you can.

Net national benefits are important for freight because often a port is claiming to have increased business from a project, but we need to make sure that's being separated out from what is at the expense of other local ports. So in TIGER we look at net national port benefit, so that's important so that ports can't claim benefits when they're being taken from another port down the coast.

Also, as I said before, when you have private beneficiaries in a project, and in the freight world of course we have private railroads and they're involved in a lot of these projects on the port side and the rail side. It's really important that private entities know that we expect them to put some skin in the game if they're getting benefit from the project. That helps to show a strong application, the more support you can have in terms of letters and financial commitments. And of course the National Export Initiative that President Obama has been working on is also a key aspect of our freight policy in this country right now. Anything you can do to show how your project will further that initiative and increase exports will be welcome in your application.

In general, highly successful projects tend to make use of multiple modes, they coordinate investment from various sources and different programs, and from various jurisdictions whether it is federal, state, or local. They are able to demonstrate benefits across multiple criteria, they can feature public/private partnerships and other types of cooperation, they support our priorities, and sometimes they're non-traditional projects that are hard to be funded in more traditional federal programs.

Some of the most common mistakes that we see involve things like eligibility. If you're a private or non-profit applicant please partner with a public sector applicant or else you won't be eligible. Universities, unless you're a state university, you must partner with a public sector entity. If you are a state university you are part of the state government, and so you are eligible. In terms of projects, we're looking at service transportation capital projects in terms of strict eligibility.Operations and Maintenance for transit or freight is also not eligible, we're looking at capital only. Planning projects that are not part of an application for a captiol project are also not eligible.

In terms of competitiveness, we see sometimes that applicants don't do a great job of going through the criteria and addressing how their project addresses the criteria. So, we encourage applicants to do that because to get past the first cut on the technical level, it is based on how your application scores against each of the criteria which are summarized in the NOFA. Another thing we get sometimes is taking unrelated projects and grouping them together to meet the minimum grant amount. So keep that in mind if you're a rural area grouping together ten different road resurfacing projects will not be the most competitive way to apply for our program.

We've had lots of strong applications. We're available at DOT, and we're very enthusiastic about technical assistance and helping applicants with their applications. So, this is part of a series of webinars that we're holding throughout August and you'll be able to see that listing on our website and also here on this PowerPoint slide. We're happy to address any questions you have and it looks like we're already getting a few questions. We also offer debriefs for any previous applicant. If you're interested in the strengths and weaknesses of your application, please contact us and we've been holding lots of those debriefs. We also have technical staff in terms of Benefit/Cost analysis. We get lots of questions on BCA. We have economists who are experts on this. We have an 8 hour webinar from last year that goes through it led by our chief economist, Jack Wells. We also have people on staff here that are able to talk to you if you have questions about your BCA preparation.

That being said, it looks like we're getting to the end here so I guess we can go ahead and move on to questions.

Question and Answer Session

Question
In terms of non-federal match, will USDOT accept prior investments in the corridor if the TIGER grant application is to extend capital investments in the corridor?

Answer
That's a great question that we get a lot. Unfortunately, for a match, we're talking about non-federal dollars or in-kind services that are expended after the award of the grant. Previous investments are not eligible.

Having said that, previous match that has been expended on the corridor may not technically satisfying match requirement, it does show a level of commitment to the project and can make the project more competitive.

Question
Are the evaluation scores from TIGER 1 & 2 applications available?

Answer
We do not have the exact scores. However, we are able to provide strengths and weaknesses of applications in a debrief. We're happy to go through the criteria and where your application did well, but we do not release the exact scores of applications.

Question
City of Ithaca would like to have a critique of sorts on our last application. Who could provide a score card or something that scores our application?

Answer
If you're interested in a debrief, please contact me at john.kennedy@dot.gov or (202) 493-0282.

Question
Is there an emphasis on freight/goods movement projects during this round of TIGER?

Answer
I wouldn't say there's more of an emphasis than there has been in the previous two rounds. That being said, freight always does well in TIGER and a lot of that has to do with the nature of the program. We have a merit-based program that looks at the BCA and freight projects tend to score very well on our criteria. There's not extra emphasis, but freight does well in TIGER. We definitely encourage freight applications. We did give a nod to the national export commission that you'll see in the NOFA.

Question
Considering Recreational Trails in Rural areas with adjacent equestrian/buggy trail, is acquisition funds allowable as part of the construction budget?

Answer
Acquisition funds would be allowed as part of the project budget to the extent that it's part of an overall budget that includes construction. With respect to design, engineering, acquisition of right of way, acquisition otherwise, we generally recognize that that's often part of a capital project, but we like to see that as a reasonable part of an overall construction project. We would not want to fund a project that was only or had too high of a ratio of project cost devoted to acquisition or other similar activities. That goes back to the genesis of the program and the Recovery Act and our continued use of short-term economic activity. Creating jobs is one of our selection criteria. Another thing I want to point out about this question is that generally, trails for bicycle and pedestrian facilities that have been most competitive in the TIGER program have been projects that are well aligned with the overall multi-modal transportation system in the area. Coordinating with commuting patterns would attract a lot of people using the facilities. Recreational facilities have been less competitive as compared with those other types of bicycle and pedestrian networks that are really tied into connecting day-to-day activities in an area.

Question
Will each criterion have a specific point value? If yes, what are the point values of each criterion? What are the high-point value ones?

Answer
If you reference the NOFA, it goes through our evaluation scoring in great detail. I will tell you that basically for each criteria the application is rated against how well it aligns to that criteria, ranging from 'Highly Recommended' to 'Recommended' to 'Not Recommended' and 'Negative'. If it received a rating of 'Negative', your application actually had a negative impact on those criteria. We don't see a lot of those. 'Highly recommended' and 'Recommended' are the ones at the top. Projects that get 'Highly Recommended' across multiple criteria are the projects that generally get elevated to the review team.

Question
How do I tap into your technical staff?

Answer
We're happy at DOT to provide assistance, so please feel free to contact me and I'll put you into contact with the right people.

Question
What role does a State DOT have in an application by a City or County?

Answer
Actually, the State DOTs have a very essential role in the process. It always helps an application if you can show support from your State DOT in terms of alignment of priorities. We understand that these projects might not be high on the State DOT list and that's why you're seeking other sources of revenue but to the extent that you can show involvement with the State DOT doesn't hurt at all. Also, we like to encourage multi-state applications, the State DOTs, getting together, and that doesn't count against your three application limit, and that is to encourage multi-jurisdictional projects.

Right, just to clarify there, local cities or counties do not need a state entity to apply. They can do it directly through this program. Another thing to clarify is that, in this round we are limiting each applicant to only three applications in which they are the lead sponsor. However, to the extent that the city or county applicants want to elicit State DOT as a partner on the project, that will not count against the state DOT's three project limit. The State DOT can be listed as a partner for any number of city or county projects to the extent that support is there.

And it is worth repeating that if you are a local government, you do not need the State DOT to apply.

Question
If you are a local State government or State DOT, such as Maryland DOT, can your State Highway Administration apply and your State Motor Vehicle Administration apply? Would this count as one each for separate agencies or two of the total three for the State DOT?

Answer
That's a good question; I think each agency has its own setup. I think a state like Maryland may have a few agencies within one overall agency. I think generally we would consider that one entity and various sub-entities would be part of the overall entity. We recognize that the State DOT would be considered separate from the state university, for example, that wanted to apply. Those will be considered separate entities.

Question
If you have an economic development entity, would they be separate from their State DOT?

Answer
Yeah, an economic development entity can be separate from the state DOT. But I think these are good examples about, to the extent you have questions about making sure that your entities are separate, be in contact with John Kennedy with your specific questions, and we can make sure you get a response to that. You can rest easier, that you're complying with requirements.

And as an applicant if you find that you're dealing with three or more applications we would encourage you to look at the criteria, look at the kinds of projects that have been awarded through our program, and try to prioritize in terms of which application you think aligns best with the program.

Question
And I think it is the similar question, but is a State DOT limited to only 3 applications even if the DOT has 9 districts that independently handle projects?

Answer
Yeah, the State DOTs will be limited to three applications. In terms of prioritizing, the more that you can get these jurisdictions that to talk to each other and try to, as a region or a state, and determine which three projects are the best that can be useful in terms of aligning financial commitments and other types of commitments that make for a strong project. For instance, I know in the last round, the Atlanta region rallied around the streetcar application, which ended up being awarded. That took lots of talks down in Atlanta about which project they wanted to put forward as a TIGER application.

Question
How would one request a debriefing on a prior application that was not successful?

Answer
Yes, to schedule a debrief on previous TIGER applications, please contact me, John Kennedy, by e-mail at John.Kennedy@dot.gov or by phone at 202-493-0282.

Question
Can you clarify the 'state of good repair' pertaining to TIGER?

Answer
Sure, it's a very important criterion and the department is very serious about. It's essentially bringing your existing facilities up to, what we call, the state of good repair, or making sure that new construction is up to a standard as well. This comes into play a lot with transit projects in terms of having a good maintenance plan. It's also important for freight projects as well, state of good repair is really important.

Some examples of projects that have aligned well with this criterion include bridges, which are structurally deficient to the point where they really needed repair. Those are the types of things that we're getting at- dealing with the aging and deteriorated infrastructure and also ensuring that the investments we make going forward, are contributing to maintaining infrastructure in a way that takes care of the infrastructure, and aren't too focused on new capital investments without concern for the infrastructure. For each of the criteria, we have more detailed guidance in the Notice of Funding Availability. I would encourage you to take a look at that section of the Notice of Funding Availability for more illustrations and guidance about what we mean for each of these criteria.

Yes, and we also encourage you to look at the previous two rounds of awards, we have one-pagers for each project that has been awarded. You can look at that and see which criteria each project hit on.

Question
How will TIGER 3 increase the hiring of transportation engineers?

Answer
Well, basic sense. This is money that is going to go for capital projects, which need to be designed and engineered.

Well, as a particular priority, that is not one of the specific aims of the TIGER program, other than how it ties in to the general construction program.

Question
For the first time applicants, can we look at some successful rural applications?

Answer
We do not release applications from DOT; however, if you look at projects that have been awarded, many of these entities have their TIGER application posted on their website.

I would say the one-pagers that John referred a minute ago which we have on our website describing the projects that were successful, would probably be particularly useful. I think you'll see some good examples of a variety of rural projects, whether they are freight rail projects, including short-line projects, that rural areas in the previous rounds, or the rural road safety projects that have done well. We have a number of projects in really rural areas of the country where the safety benefits were particularly compelling. I think those examples that have the one-pagers on our website would be good to look at.

We've also had some good Complete-Street, Bike/Ped, type projects and for rural areas, we like to say that small towns have a lot of the ingredients that urban areas look for in terms of livability; they already have the main street, the grid patterns. So, a lot of our successful rural projects have been these types of street projects that activate those areas.

Question
Will FHWA administer all the TIGER 3 grants, or will the other operating administrations have a role?

Answer
FHWA administers many of our TIGER grants, but we also have FTA, Marad, and FRA, which have OAs that administer TIGER grants. It depends on the type of project and will go on a case-by-case basis.

Question
Would a rail freight project that included rail investments in several different locations on the same line be considered grouping unrelated projects?

Answer
No, as long as you can articulate that the group of projects is related to a single goal or corridor, then it wouldn't be unrelated. You know, we have received the applications in the past with something like 50 different road resurfacing projects, all over the place, and that's the kind of thing we see as unrelated. If you have several improvements that are aimed towards one corridor or one goal, then please group that in your application.

If you look at TIGER 1 and TIGER 2, the freight rail applications that were selected were that type of grouping, in a positive way. We have Create in Chicago, which were 50 or so projects. You have the Appalachian Short Line that which goes through 3 different states, you have the Crescent Corridor which goes through multiple states and there are different sites which we are funding, and then also the National Gateway, a variety of bridge and tunnel clearances through 4 states. As John stated they are all connected in the purpose and need, and coming together as a corridor.

Question
Is it possible to review a successful rails/trails multi-modal TIGER project? Is there an example of this type of project in a rural area?

Answer
I don't know if we've got a rail to trail conversion specifically, but like I said, check out the projects that have been awarded and many times these entities have their TIGER applications on their websites available. For at least half of our projects, you can Google the name of the project and 'TIGER' and the first thing that comes up is the application. 'Rails to trails' are eligible, but off the top of my head I don't know if I can think of one in a rural area.

If they go to the website, http://www.dot.gov/tiger, all the projects are listed there, right?

Yeah, they are on the right hand side.

Question
If a port project was awarded in the TIGER II round, would a short new build of corridor and widening of an existing State Route that has had no study yet performed be an eligible project?

Answer
If it is a road project that is going to help provide access to another investment the TIGER program has made, that certainly is eligible.

Question
Will the questions and answers for the webinar be posted later, and if so approximately when?

Answer
We do have a questions and answers section on our website that has a lot of great answers on there already, but we'd be happy to incorporate these in there as well.

And we will be posting the transcript of this in the coming weeks on the FHWA Talking Freight website. And everybody who's registered should receive it, right Jennifer?

Probably in about two weeks or so, I'll send out the transcript, the recording, and the presentation will all be posted online. For everyone who registered, I will send out an e-mail once those are available.

Question
Is your NOFA on Grants.gov, or will it be?

Answer
I'm not sure, it might be there. But the easiest way would be to just go to our website, www.dot.gov/tiger/. There's a link right there to the NOFA. Right now it's the interim NOFA but we hope to have the final Notice published next week.

Question
Are projects to enhance passenger rail at existing train stations eligible?

Answer
Yeah, definitely, all kinds of survey transportation projects are eligible.

Question
If there are two quality applications submitted from one entity, how likely would it be for the same entity to receive funding for two? Does it make sense to apply for two separate projects?

Answer
Yes, part of the issue for this question is that Congress, in authorizing this program, has given us a mandate to ensure geographic distribution of the funds, and to ensure an appropriate balance between urban and rural areas, and the variety of projects, and just because we recognize there are a variety of priorities that we try to hit through this program. Historically, no entity has received two grants in one round of TIGER. You can certainly submit two applications, if you have two projects, about why they follow the selection criteria and both will get reviewed. You don't have to combine them into the one application. It is unlikely, looking at the historical program, that one entity would have multiple applications funded.

Question
Could a City DOT apply as a separate entity or should it route its application through the State DOT?

Answer
The City DOT can apply as lead applicant on its own. To the extent that the city can show that the State supports the application that helps show partnership and can only help make the application more competitive. But, it's not required that a city DOT routes their application through anything other than submitting it directly.

I guess we should mention that the lead applicant, that is where we send the check, if you are awarded. Keep in mind that you need to have the capacity to manage, you know, receiving the millions of dollars of funding, and we have had some confusion about that in the past.

Question
Where can I find the information about past TIGER grant applications and the projects that received grants?

Answer
Sure, on our website, on the right side up at the top, you can see all of the previously awarded projects.

Question
If a multi-state application is awarded, can the funding be divided and awarded to individual states so that the applicant isn't managing transportation investments in other states?

Answer
Yes.

Question
Does this mean it has to be included in the State DOT approved STIP?

Answer
I encourage you to look at the footnote in NOFA, which directly addresses this issue in detail. But to sum it up, TIGER itself does not require a project to be on the STIP. However, to the extent a project is otherwise required to be on the STIP, we would not provide TIGER funds until it is on that plan.

If your project is currently not on the STIP, you know, anything you can show from the MPO indicating that they would be able to move quickly to place the project on the STIP if awarded that helps as well.

Question
Can you give some examples of ferry projects?

Answer
TIGER does not have any current ferry projects that have been funded, but that is not to say they are not eligible. Ferry projects would be eligible, and that includes TIGER funds that would be used to acquire a ferry. In the last few rounds, we have not funded any ferry projects.

FHWA in the past couple years has run a couple rounds of the Ferry Boat discretionary program. You can check there for some of the projects that were funded, on our website.

Question
Are pre-award activities such as preparation of the NEPA documents or benefit-cost analysis reimbursable under the TIGER grant?

Answer
The TIGER program doesn't reimburse costs that have already been incurred prior to the award. We recognize that some projects from the time of award still have some activities which have to be done, which could include finalizing of the NEPA documentation, design and engineering type of work. So we would consider using TIGER funds for those activities to the extent they were necessary for the overall construction project which is the main element of the funds that are provided. To the extent that the department does fund finalization of the preconstruction work, we are sensitive to the time line in which that has to be done, and we are looking for an application that can demonstrate they can get that work done sufficiently in advance of our deadline, September 30th 2013, so that we have comfort that the funds are not going to disappear if it is not done at that time because at that point we lose the funds.

Question
I just wanted to continue there, by asking those types of things you are funding there would not run in to the prohibition for each of those that are being planned?

Answer
Planning for the capital project, if it's rolled into the entire project, is eligible for this round. What we don't have available this round is projects that are solely for planning. And, I think John mentioned before, eligible doesn't mean competitive. The other thing, since we mentioned NEPA, it does take time depending on the difficulty and the complications associated with the project so make sure you budget enough time. There is no dispensation from NEPA or we don't cut corners to get this project through in the time line. So make sure you are projecting it appropriately.

Question
How does DOT determine to fund a project at less than the requested amount?

Answer
Hopefully, I mean generally, we look for the application that has done a great job to clarify the extent that the project could be segmented, and the relative benefits of funding the different portions of the project. And that is the primary mechanism by which DOT would look to give a project less total amount than requested. There are times where DOT does have to seek clarification on an aspect of the application for making a decision like that. But generally, we hope that it is spelled out clearly in the application to the extent that the project has to be segmented.

Question
Does past success with TIGER and/or TIGER 2 funding hinder a state or city's success in TIGER 3?

Answer
No, we encourage you to apply still. The application will be rated against the criteria, so you won't be a disadvantage if you have been a previous recipient. Yeah, each round stands on its own in terms of geographic distribution requirements.

Question
Can you repeat the eligible entities that can submit a TIGER grant?

Answer
Sure, it's any state, tribal, or local government or any subdivision of those governments. If you are a non-federal governmental entity, you are eligible to apply.

Question
Once awarded, how long before your project receives funds?

Answer
Well, it is subject to you, in terms of when we can move the grant agreement, generally two months. That is dependent on whether or not the project is ready to obligate the funds. We can obligate the funds as soon as we agree to the terms of our grant agreement, and to the extent that the project has been moving along really well, and is ready to move in to the construction, we've entered into grant agreements within a month or so of the awards being announced. At the same time, we have had projects that were not quite as ready as they thought to obligate federal funds, and it has taken longer for the federal funds to get obligated.

The other thing I would add is we have also obligated in stages. So if you have been awarded the entire grant for a complete project, taking the project from the NEPA phase through the construction, then we may only be able to obligate a portion of the funds for NEPA early on, but then we could go forward with subsequent phases of the project when you are ready to complete those phases.

For FHWA, the key authorization to obligate is the complete and signed PS&E package to move into construction. That's what we look for and that's what we tie our capital construction part obligation to in the grant.

Question
Further question regarding pre-award work- will design, specification and contract work qualify for reimbursement?

Answer
To the extent that work is done after the award is announced, it could, but you can't reimburse work that was already done prior to the award announcement.

Just to clarify that, do you mean after the award is announced or the grant agreement is announced?

I think we have said after the award is announced, but I want to double check on exactly if it is when we announce the awards or when we announce the grant.

Question
How long will DOT take to review applications and announce awards?

Answer
The applications are due at the end of October. DOT staff will spend two or three months looking through everything and we are planning to provide the awards sometime around the end of January or early February. That is subject to change.

Question
Are ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) projects eligible for TIGER 3 grants? These projects typically involve developing/building systems and technology to manage traffic and/or reduce congestions. Some of these projects include construction and/or installation of equipment on roadways.

Answer
Absolutely, ITS projects are eligible. We've had a few good examples in previous rounds. In TIGER 2 in the Meadowlands, NJ, it was a very multi-jurisdictional project where different entities got together and they synchronized their traffic signals. It was based on an adaptive algorithm that had sensors and would adjust the timing based on traffic flow in real time. Stuff like that is definitely eligible, and I would encourage it. Of course there are other types of ITS projects as well.

Right, and the one caveat, we are looking for the projects that are deploying the ITS systems and we're not looking to fund projects that are demonstration or pilot projects. We're really looking at deployment of the technology. That goes across the board, too. This is not research, this is capital project.

Question
You just answered a question like this about announcing awards. How soon after the submittal deadline are awards announced?

Answer
The applications are due at the end of October. DOT staff will spend two or three months looking through everything and we are planning to provide the awards sometime around the end of January or early February. That is subject to change.

Jennifer Symoun
I don't see anything else typed in right now, we will take a moment and see if anyone would like to ask questions over the phone. Megan, could you give instructions to ask questions over the phone?

Operator
At this time, I would like to remind everyone that in order to ask a question over the phone, press star and the No. 1 on your telephone key pad. We'll pause for just a moment. There are no questions by phone; I will turn it back over to you.

Jennifer Symoun
I thought I saw someone typing questions, so we will give a few more minutes to see if any more questions come up. It looks like there are a few people typing questions right now, so we will give them a few minutes and wait.

Question
Can you identify the other person who answered questions from DOT, please?

Answer
Sure, questions were answered by John Kennedy from the Office of the Secretary, Jacob Falk from the Office of the Secretary, and Ed Strocko of FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations.

Question
You indicated that state and local governments are eligible applicants, are transit authorities eligible?

Answer
Absolutely, we have awarded to Transit Authorities in the past. We've made several awards to transit authorities, they are eligible applicants. If you refer to the DOT website, you can see who the lead applicant it. We've also had opportunities to partner with cities to build transit projects such as the Atlanta Streetcar. Essentially that was the City of Atlanta who was the lead applicant, and they partnered with Florida to obtain TIGER funds for the project. And each transit project varies, and I suggest that you do use the website as a resource to see the different partnerships and project types.

And you know that transit has done very well in TIGER, there were several street car projects, bus transit projects, multi-modal station improvements and things like that.

Question
Where prevailing wage has to be paid, would that be the rates on the date the award will be announced or when the contract is finalized?

Answer
We're not sure at the moment, we'll have to follow-up and put that in our other Q & As. [Editor's note: For information about when the prevailing wage rate is set, see http://www.dol.gov/whd/programs/dbra/faqs/page17.htm.]

Jennifer Symoun
At this point, I don't see any other further questions typed in. I think we will go ahead and close out today. But you have John's e-mail address, and there is a website for further information. I think everybody who is registered should have my contact information from the webinar log-in instructions, and if you have questions you can send them to me, I will make sure I forward them to the correct people. We will be closing out today, so thank you to our presenters and thank you for attending, and have a great day.

Updated: 03/25/2013
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