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Frequently Asked Questions

View frequently asked questions on this topic below. Perform a word search to narrow your content or, if this topic has sub-categories, select based on your interest from the drop-down list. Answers to frequently asked questions are provided as guidance.

Answer:

States and other eligible applicants may submit consolidated proposals for projects in urbanized areas. Proposals may contain projects to be implemented by recipients or sub-recipients. If a single project proposal involves multiple providers, the proposal must include a detailed statement regarding the role of each provider in implementing the project.

Answer:

Yes. FTA ER funding can be awarded in advance of an expected insurance settlement. If/when an insurance settlement is received, the grant must be amended. Please see sections 4.3.2 “Treatment of Insurance Proceeds” and 4.3.3 “Policy on Unallocated Insurance Proceeds” in FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for details and examples.

Answer:

Yes, based on the period of availability, FY 13 grant funds can be obligated through September 30, 2015 and FY 14 grant funds through September 30, 2016. FTA, however, encourages you to submit as soon as you possibly can, to ensure that your state's program, and the rail transit agency's safety oversight, receives the benefits of federal funding.

Answer:

Project administration costs are considered to be those necessary and reasonable administrative costs associated with the implementation of specific FTA approved capital project activities. Such costs may be direct or indirect. Direct costs must be supported with documentation to show the nature and amount of cost including time and attendance records for actual staff time charged to the activity. Indirect costs must be supported with a federally approved indirect cost allocation plan. Project administration costs should be budgeted separately or included in related capital activity line item budgets. Project administration costs are funded as capital costs. While project administration is an eligible capital cost, general program administration is not.Project team resources may be funded up to a reasonable amount, which generally does not exceed 10 percent of the total capital costs of the project.

Answer:

For projects that FTA determines require an EJ analysis (i.e., those for which impacts rise above a certain threshold such that there is a potential for EJ impacts), a qualitative assessment alone is not sufficient to demonstrate that a proposed investment (strategy) would not have a disproportionately high and adverse impact. Any qualitative assessment should be accompanied by complementary quantitative analysis. No single analysis activity tells the entire story. FTA encourages grantees to use a variety of tools to develop a more realistic understanding of the benefits and burdens of the transportation system and any disproportionately high and adverse impacts on EJ populations. Data collection to get to know one’s community, to articulate needs and priorities, and to consider possible impacts should be corroborated through the public involvement process. Analytical tools are an important component for creating a baseline to work from, to inform decision-making, and to monitor progress over time.

Answer:

Yes. Recovery funds can be used to repair a facility with materials or features that are more resilient than the original facility if those materials or features are integral to the repair of the facility (not functionally independent) and cost effective. For example, elevating communications cables when replacing cables destroyed during a storm or using a stronger roofing material to replace a roof blown off by the storms may be eligible as recovery expenses. Features that are functionally independent, such as a sea wall around a facility, are not eligible under the recovery and rebuilding allocations and would need to be funded through the resilience allocation.

Answer:

Yes. Funding was made available for “transit systems affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria with major disaster declarations in 2017.”  As such, any transit agency within the Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria declared disaster areas may receive resilience funding regardless of whether it received recovery funding as long as the State or Territory responsible for sub-allocating the resilience funding selects such a project for funding and that the transit agency can affirm it was affected by the storms.

Answer:

No. School buses are not eligible.

Answer:

Yes. Expenditures for equipment that is directly related to the SSO program are allowable. Such equipment may include, for example, two-way radios, cellular phones, digital cameras, accident investigation kits, electronic tablets, personal protective equipment, as well as office equipment, including computers, servers, printers, and other durable goods or equipment. Items with a unit cost of $5000 or more must have prior FTA approval. If equipment is shared with non-SSO functions, please follow 2 C.F.R. Part 225 for guidance on how to calculate the appropriate reimbursement amount for the equipment’s use in support of SSO activities.

Answer:

Yes. The services paid for must be to develop or carry out SSO programs under MAP-21.

Answer:

Yes. States may use such grant funds for in-state or out-of-state travel or training under this program. Meetings and conferences are eligible if the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information. For more information, see section 27 of Appendix B of 2 C.F.R. Part 225.

Answer:

Yes. Costs associated with membership in business, technical and professional organizations directly incurred as a result of one’s SSO job functions are allowable. Note that membership in organizations substantially engaged in lobbying are unallowable. Please see section 28 in Appendix B of 2 C.F.R. Part 225 for more information.

Answer:

Yes. States may use SSO Formula Grant Program funds to pay reasonable compensation to employees who are working on the SSO program. All labor must be identified in a staffing plan shared with FTA. You may pay the following types of employees, as identified in the staffing plan:
Full or partial wages for all SSO personnel.
Overtime wages for SSO employees who perform activities such as accident investigation or corrective plan verification.
Partial wages for State employees who support the SSO program.
Refer to section 8 of Appendix B to 2 C.F.R. Part 225 for specific information, and speak to your Regional Office for additional assistance.

Answer:

Yes. Vehicles purchases and vehicle operating costs to develop or carry out the SSO program are eligible, but may require prior FTA approval.

Answer:

Yes, an SSO agency may use existing federal grant funds for reimbursement of operational and administrative costs incurred during the development of its SSO Program. Since 2013, FTA has provided approximately $112.4 million in SSO formula grant funds to help states develop and implement an SSO Program that meets federal requirements.

Answer:

No. These funds may only be used to support MAP-21 compliant State Safety Oversight Program activities.

Answer:

Construction or building improvements to develop or carry out the SSO program may be allowed. As with all proposed activities, grant applications will need to fully address how the activity supports the SSO program.

Answer:

Yes. A rail transit system does not need to receive federal funds to qualify for this program. Eligible rail transit systems must report to the National Transit Database (NTD) to be included in the apportionment and grant funding may only be used for those systems that report to the NTD or intend to report to the NTD. The applicant or the rail transit system that is currently not reporting to the NTD, e.g., those rail transit systems in the engineering or construction phase of development, should submit a letter of intent that the rail transit system at issue will report to NTD and comply with all applicable Federal requirements.

Answer:

Yes. FTA encourages SSOA personnel to take training at the rail transit systems they oversee to improve their knowledge of specific practices and technical systems. SSO grant funds cannot be used to benefit the rail transit agency directly, nor can they be used to provide training or anything else exclusively for the benefit of rail transit agency personnel.

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