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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer:

Repair or replacement of an asset that sustained damage or was destroyed after Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or Maria due to the storms weakening or compromising the asset’s structure may be an eligible project if the applicant documents that it made all reasonable attempts to protect and safeguard the asset in the immediate aftermath of the storms to prevent additional waste or loss.

Answer:

The standard value of passenger time in the HMCE tool is pre-set at $15.58 per hour. Consistent with FEMA and DOT guidance, this represents one half of the average national wage, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The value allows the HMCE tool to evaluate the benefits of avoided service outages or alternative services, as well as the cost of outages associated with project implementation.Applicants have three options for this value:
Use the standard value in the tool of $15.58 per hour, reflecting 50 percent of the national average wage rate.
Adjust the value to account for regional differences, using regional wage information reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Based on an analysis of the September 2013 BLS report “Employer Costs for Employee Compensation &mdash September 2013”, Historical Listings through September 2013, and National Compensation Survey data from 2010-2011 for applicable Census regions and combined statistical areas (CSAs, i.e. adjacent metropolitan areas), comparing regional average wage values to the regional average private industry wages resulted in the following adjustments:
Regional:
New England (CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, VT): $18.38 per hour
Mid-Atlantic (NY, NJ, PA): $17.59 per hour
South-Atlantic (MD, DC, DE, VA, NC, etc.): $14.38 per hour

Combined Statistical Areas
Boston-Worcester-Manchester (RI, MA, NH) CSA: $18.80 per hour
New York-Newark-Bridgeport Mid-Atlantic (NY-NJ-CT) CSA: $19.40 per hour
Philadelphia-Camden-Vineyard (PA-NJ-DE-MD) CSA: $17.86 per hour
Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia (DC-MD-VA-WV) CSA: $18.25 per hour
Adjust the value to account for regional differences as follows: Calculate one half of the average household income for the applicant’s service area, or for all public transportation users in the applicant’s service area, divided by the average household size for the population used.

Regardless of the approach selected, the same value must be used in all proposals submitted by a single applicant. If an applicant intends to use the third option, additional backup documentation is required, including copies of the applicable census tables, the calculations used, and a brief statement of why one of the other two options is not accurate or sufficient for the analysis. Other alternative approaches are not recommended.

Answer:

For all eligible force account and operating expenses, FTA will pay both straight and overtime labor costs.

Answer:

Given the unique eligibility criteria for the Category 1, 2, or 3 grants, FTA will only permit budget revisions that meet the below criteria with prior FTA approval.
Budget revisions will only be permitted to shift funds from an existing Category 2 Activity Line Item (ALI) when a cost-savings is realized to another existing Category 2 ALI, should there be a cost-overrun or need for additional funds.
Grantees will be required to submit documentation demonstrating the cost savings and cost over-run involved in the budget revision.
If the grantee experiences a cost-savings or determines it no longer needs the funds obligated in other ALIs in its Category 1, 2, and 3 grant, then the excess funds will be deobligated. Funds that are deobligated from the grant may be available for future obligation by the grantee, should the grantee have additional eligible recovery costs that cannot be funded by its pro-rated allocation or its insurance proceeds.

Answer:

No. ER funds may not be used to reimburse contractors for stopped work as a result of a disaster. However, expenses incurred by the contractor for implementing protective measures that protected assets owned by the transit agency would be considered eligible.

Answer:

Yes. However, apportioned resiliency funds cannot be used for design costs of projects unless the grantee has documented the availability of funding for the entire project, including construction.Additionally, a grantee may not incur capital expenses for local priority resiliency projects until a project has received formal FTA approval granting pre-award authority for the project.

Answer:

It depends. Capital projects may not have a useful life of less than one year. “Resiliency projects” are defined as capital projects designed and built to reduce the vulnerabilities of a public transportation facility or system to future emergencies or major disasters likely to occur in the geographic area in which the public transportation system is located; or to projected changes in development patterns, demographics, or extreme weather or other climate patterns.All resiliency projects must comply with FTA’s useful life requirements for capital assets. FTA’s useful life requirements state that a recipient must reimburse FTA for the remaining useful life of any asset that is disposed of prior to the end of its useful life.Useful life is determined in accordance with the purpose of the project as well as the type of asset acquired. Since the purpose of a resiliency project is to protect other assets, the useful life of a resiliency project is tied to the lesser of the length of time that an asset (or its replacement) needs protection or the standard useful life of the purchased asset. For example, the useful life of a concrete flood barrier around a substation that is projected to be moved in five years is equal to five years. The useful life of movable equipment, such as modular flood barriers, should be determined by the grantee based on guidance in FTA Circular 5010.

Answer:

FTA will apply the same oversight and grant management/administration requirements that apply to recovery and local priority resilience projects, once awarded. Resilience projects must comply with all Federal planning requirements, including the TIP/STIP requirement; however, they will not require prior FTA approval or to be submitted as part of a program of recovery projects, as required for Hurricane Sandy recovery and local priority resilience work. As projects were evaluated and selected based on the submitted application, projects should be delivered in accordance with the schedule and scope identified in the application.

Answer:

As the specific purpose of a resiliency project is to add protective features to existing infrastructure to minimize damage from future emergencies or major disasters, a resiliency project typically includes a “substantial functional, location or capacity change." As such, FTA expects project sponsors to ensure such resiliency projects are included or appropriately referenced in the MPO’s metropolitan transportation plan as well as the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs. Please reference FHWA and FTA’s joint planning rule (23 CFR 450.324) for TIP/STIP requirements. Project sponsors are also reminded they must comply with other applicable pre-award requirements (unless specifically waived), before incurring costs for these projects.While 23 CFR 450.324 contains an exception for "emergency relief projects" that do not involve substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes be included in the TIP/STIP, FTA does not expect resiliency projects, particularly those funded from the local priority resiliency allocations and future competitive resiliency allocations, to qualify for the reason noted above and given most are not "emergency" in nature.However, there may be some integrated resiliency elements or projects specifically tied to a recovery project and funded from a grantee's recovery allocation that do not include "substantial functional, location, or capacity changes". Project sponsors should review the additional planning FAQs for more information about this exception and the process for certifying if a project qualifies. What appropriate funding assumptions can be made to include projects funded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program (ERP) in a TIP/STIP? Per FHWA/FTA’s joint planning rule, a project must be fully funded from “reasonably anticipated” fund sources to be included in the TIP/STIP. To meet the requirement of anticipated full funding, sponsors of ERP projects must identify all the funding sources for the ERP project including the federal funds that FTA has allocated from the ERP to individual project, any required non-federal match plus any other funds required to meet the total cost of the project. Project sponsors should not assume the availability of ERP funds for a specific project if Congress has not appropriated those funds to the ERP, or if FTA has not specifically allocated ERP funds to the specific project. Projects that have been allocated ERP funds from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act by the Notice of Availability published May 29, 2013 can assume the ERP funds to be “reasonably available” to the project so that the project can be included in the TIP/STIP.However, project sponsors cannot assume that any future funds that have not yet been allocated, particularly those that may be awarded on a competitive basis, are “ reasonably anticipated to be available” until FTA makes an allocation to a project. Once FTA makes an allocation, the project sponsor should work with the MPO and/or State to amend the TIP/STIP to include the ERP project, identifying all federal and other funds required to meet the full cost of the project. Project sponsors are urged to work closely with the MPO and States early to understand and plan for any TIP/STIP amendment procedures for project inclusion once FTA has allocated ERP funds.

Answer:

Yes, however each state administers its own HMGP funds and determines how those funds are spent, in accordance with FEMA requirements.

Answer:

When made available for transportation purposes, CDBG funds may be used as the local match for FTA ER funds. HUD has received a supplemental appropriation of CDBG Disaster Relief funds and has awarded those funds to Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the US Virgin Islands. Restoration of infrastructure is an eligible use of such funds. For more information on HUD’s awards, please see HUD’s notice of allocation here. For information on the availability of CDBG funds, please contact the recipients of the CDBG funds, listed here.

Answer:

Pre-construction activities (i.e. planning, NEPA review, preliminary engineering and design) are not required to be on the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs to be eligible for potential reimbursement under pre-award authority. FTA considers these activities necessary to estimate the cost of a project for inclusion in the TIP and STIP.
All other project activities must be in the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs.
FTA will determine the eligibility for reimbursement of pre-award activities once a grant is in development and the project has been included in the TIP and STIP.

Answer:

Yes, in the case of projects with scalable options or multiple independent sub-projects, it is permissible for an applicant to reallocate the funds associated with one or more specific sub-projects.  The remaining resilience funded sub-projects must have independent resilience utility, and may be identified based on their location or the specific proposed activity. Recipients are encouraged to identify why the particular sub-project has been chosen for reallocation, for example, if it has a lower benefit-cost balance than the remaining projects.

Answer:

Yes, it is permissible for a recipient to request the reallocation of a portion of a project’s proposed scope, provided that the remaining scope results in a viable project with an independent resilience benefit. In this case, the recipient should submit a revised project budget breakdown reflecting the reduced scope. 

Answer:

No. However, if a transit agency allocates project management or oversight staff time to an otherwise eligible ER project, that time would be an eligible expense for that project.

Answer:

Under the terms of a Memorandum of Agreement between FEMA and FTA, if and when FTA has funding available after a disaster for emergency relief, FTA will be the primary provider of transit-related emergency relief.

Due to the timing of FTA’s Emergency Relief funding becoming available, some transit agencies may have already received reimbursement for hurricane related expenses from FEMA. These reimbursements are allowable under the terms of the FTA-FEMA agreement, however, any expenses previously reimbursed by FEMA are not eligible for assistance under FTA’s ER program.

If a transit agency has disaster expenses under review by FEMA that have not yet been reimbursed , these must be transferred to FTA’s ER program. This includes expenses that have already been submitted to FEMA but have not yet been disbursed.

If a transit agency provided services that are not eligible under the FTA ER program, such as providing emergency shelter or meals to evacuees, the transit agency may seek reimbursement for those expenses from FEMA subject to all applicable FEMA requirements. If the transit agency also provided services eligible under FTA’s ER program, the transit agency may receive funds from both FTA and FEMA.

Answer:

No, the HMCE analysis should always reflect the total project cost, as the analysis is based on the costs and benefits of the project to society, not to the Federal government. The application should clearly identify both the total project cost and the requested Federal funding amount.

Answer:

ER funds allocated to repair damage to a facility may be used for another eligible project at the discretion of the grant recipient. However, the purchase or construction of a new replacement facility is only eligible if the damaged facility for which funds are allocated is not repairable and must be rebuilt.

Answer:

No. Please see section 4.2.2 “Federal/Local Cost Sharing” in FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for additional details on matching funds.

Answer:

ER funds cannot be used for projects for which FTA has already obligated funds. For example, if FTA has obligated funding to replace a piece of equipment but before the equipment is replaced it is damaged or destroyed during a disaster, ER funds cannot be used to replace that piece of equipment at a greater Federal share. The previously obligated grant and its corresponding Federal share must be utilized.

However, if a project with an obligated grant is under construction and is damaged, any additional expense to repair the damage may be eligible under the ER program, depending on the type of project, the type of damage, and what entity was responsible for the project at the time of the storm.

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