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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Capital Investment Grants Program

New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity Improvements

New Starts and Core Capacity Process

What's New

  • FTA has advanced funding for 41 new CIG projects throughout the nation under the Trump administration since January 20, 2017, totaling approximately $10.7 billion in funding commitments. 
  • In September, FTA announced a final rule amending FTA’s Project Management Oversight of transit capital investments, which redefines a “major capital project” as one with a budget of $300 million or more and with a federal investment of at least $100 million, allowing FTA oversight to be tailored to modern costs and risks for projects.  
  • Projects in the CIG program may be eligible for the One Federal Decision process, which is an expedited environmental review process under Executive Order 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects (August 15, 2017). FTA is working to meet a government-wide goal to reduce the average time for required environmental reviews and permitting authorizations for “major infrastructure projects” to two years. 


This FTA discretionary grant program funds transit capital investments, including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit. Federal transit law requires transit agencies seeking CIG funding to complete a series of steps over several years. For New Starts and Core Capacity projects, the law requires completion of two phases in advance of receipt of a construction grant agreement – Project Development and Engineering. For Small Starts projects, the law requires completion of one phase in advance of receipt of a construction grant agreement – Project Development. The law also requires projects to be rated by FTA at various points in the process according to statutory criteria evaluating project justification and local financial commitment. For a complete discussion of the CIG process and the evaluation criteria, please see FTA’s Policy Guidance.

Sponsors of capital investment grant projects should also become familiar with the transportation planning and environmental review process requirements that apply to projects funded by FTA. Find information on the transportation planning process and the environmental review process