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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:

Force account is the use of a grantee’s own labor force to carry out a capital project. Force account work may consist of design, construction, refurbishment, inspection, and construction management activities, if eligible for reimbursement under the grant. Incremental labor costs from flagging protection, service diversions, or other activities directly related to the capital grant may also be defined as force account work.Documentation can include a force account plan for the work accomplished or planned, or any other documentation that reflects that in-house labor forces were "budgeted" as of January 29th to accomplish the work.

Answer:

Yes. Applicants should include the customer impact of repair projects together with the customer impact from direct storm damage in the same section of the HMCE analysis. Please show how each estimated interruption is estimated and how the user impacts are calculated for each. If multiple types of customer impacts are included, please provide a separate analysis showing how each was calculated.

Answer:

Since a significant portion of the seriously damaged transit infrastructure was technologically obsolete, and hence not appropriate to replace in kind or restore to the exact previous condition, FTA will fund repair and replacement projects that bring transit assets up to a state of good repair.Specifically, when repairing or replacing facilities and infrastructure damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, the following activities are eligible for Emergency Relief funding: 1) replacement of older features with new ones; 2) incorporation of current design standards; 3) replacement of a destroyed facility at a different location when replacing at the existing location is not practical or feasible; and 4) additional required features resulting from the NEPA process. The incorporation of improvements or changes designed solely to improve the resiliency of transit infrastructure is not considered a state of good repair improvement under this eligibility. Further guidance on mitigation and resiliency improvements will be forthcoming.Rolling stock and other equipment used in public transportation that was damaged or destroyed before the end of its useful life may be replaced with new rolling stock and equipment.

Answer:

FTA will make determinations on a case-specific basis, which may require recipients to submit contract documents to FTA for review. Generally, costs that are incurred after January 29th, such as by amending a contract, exercising options on a contract for additional work, or ordering previously un-budgeted tasks on an indefinite quantity contract, would not qualify for category 2, and would need to comply with all federal requirements, or would need to seek a waiver of specific requirements through the FTA docket as described in the March 29, 2013 Notice of Allocation. The docket is available on www.regulations.gov, and the docket number for calendar year 2013 is FTA–2013–0001. However, issuing future task orders on an existing contract for which funds were already committed (such as for storm clean-up/debris removal work) may be eligible under Category 2.

Answer:

All Americans with Disabilities Act requirements apply to ER grants and all recovery and resilience projects must be ADA compliant, including “path of travel” requirements when rehabilitating passenger facilities. Applicants should coordinate with their FTA Regional Civil Rights Officer early in the grant development process to ensure all requirements are being met. Repair and rebuilding projects using ER funds should be designed to be compliant with ADA requirements.

Answer:

Transit operators are responsible for submitting and pursuing insurance claims for covered damages consistent with their policy and coverage. FTA’s allocations of ER funding are intended and designed to supplement a transit agency’s insurance coverage, and are subject to estimates of the amount of insurance proceeds an agency expects to receive, as well as the amounts eventually received under a claim. Each application for FTA ER funds requires that the applicant attach any insurance policies that may cover damage to the assets for which the applicant is requesting ER funding.

Answer:

Emergency and permanent repairs do not need to be in the TIP/STIP if the repairs do not include changes to the location, capacity, or function of the transit asset.  However, FTA recommends that such repair projects undertaken more than a year after a disaster be programmed in the TIP/STIP to ensure that projects are planned and funded alongside non-emergency transportation projects within the State and/or metropolitan planning region. All other ER projects must be in the TIP/STIP prior to incurring costs.

Answer:

Funds allocated for response, recovery, and rebuilding may be used for eligible expenses according to statute and FTA regulation, including:

  • Repair / replacement of damaged or destroyed assets to a state of good repair;
  • Emergency operating expenses for evacuations, temporary emergency service, disaster preparation, and temporary repairs/protective measures.

Funds allocated for resilience projects may be spent on capital projects that are designed and built specifically to address existing and future vulnerabilities to damages from disasters. Please see FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for further detail.

Answer:

This means that FTA will consider a recipient’s acceptance of a standard base flood elevation of one foot above FEMA’s best available flood hazard information as a minimum requirement for funding under this program. All recipients must indicate how this floodplain management guideline has been considered in project selection and design.

Answer:

FEMA will close out your grant request and FTA will work with you to develop your grant application. Documentation gathered and developed for FEMA assistance, such as Project Worksheets (PWs) will be accepted as applicable for documents required for FTA ER grants.

Answer:

If the expenses have already been paid out of a contingency in the budget, then they are Category 1 expenses and do not require documentation of budgeting, which is for future expenditures. For future expenditures to be paid from a contingency, there should be some documentation showing either budgeting or approval of the use of the contingency line item (Board meeting minutes, for example). This documentation should be included in the initial proposal.

Answer:

For the ABFE+1/FEMA Best Available+1 requirement, applicants must submit documentation showing that they have identified the appropriate flood hazard area and the best available base flood elevation for the project location, or locations, as applicable. Applicant must also provide an explanation of how a proposed project was designed to make the asset resilient based on this flood hazard information. Applicants should cite the relevant FEMA map source and/or FEMA flood insurance study for the project location.

Answer:

The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Emergency Relief (ER) Program is authorized by Congress and enables FTA to reimburse public transit operators in the aftermath of an emergency or major disaster to help pay for protecting, repairing, or replacing equipment and facilities that may suffer or have suffered serious damage. The program also funds the operating costs of evacuation, rescue operations, or temporary public transportation service during or after an emergency.

Under the ER Program, FTA may make grants for capital projects to protect, repair, or replace damaged assets, and for operating expenses incurred while responding to a declared emergency or major disaster.

Answer:

In the spring of 2014, FTA extended pre-award authority for costs associated with the environmental review, as well as design and engineering expenses for selected projects. These costs may remain eligible for reimbursement or may count towards the local match, regardless of the date incurred. Pre-award authority for other costs is extended as of September 22, 2014.
Consistent with FTA policy on pre-award authority, a project must have met all applicable Federal requirements prior to incurring expenses. The recipient assumes all risk and is responsible for ensuring that all applicable federal program and grant requirements are met to retain eligibility. Recipients are also advised that incurring certain project costs prior to NEPA completion may render the entire project ineligible for Federal assistance. Therefore, FTA strongly encourages all recipients to consult with the appropriate FTA regional office regarding the anticipated environmental review requirements and the applicability of Federal conditions and requirements before incurring expenses under pre-award authority with the hope of future reimbursement.
Note that any expenses incurred for projects that were NOT selected may not be reimbursed under the Emergency Relief program, but may be eligible for reimbursement under FTA formula programs such as Section 5307.

Answer:

Heavy maintenance generally refers to occasional or periodic maintenance on facilities, such as track work, or cleaning a station and making minor repairs to that station after the storm, as opposed to restoring vehicles to operable status. Repairing vehicles seriously damaged in the storm to an operable status is an eligible expense.

Answer:

Funds made available for the FTA Emergency Relief Program are available until expended, and thus do not have a lapse date. Once obligated, funds must be expended within 24 months. FTA is working to resolve questions and concerns regarding this issue and will post information as it becomes available.

Answer:

The FHWA and FTA joint planning rule (23 CFR 450.324) provides that "emergency relief projects" that do not involve substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes are not required to be included in the TIP/STIP. For purposes of FTA's Emergency Relief Program (ERP), "emergency relief projects" may include recovery funded projects, and if applicable, integral resiliency-elements for the said specific recovery projects. Generally, it does not apply to stand-alone or auxiliary resiliency projects funded out of a project sponsor's local priority resiliency allocation or future competitive resiliency allocations. For these category of projects and others that would not qualify under the exception, grantees must ensure the projects funded under this program are included in the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs.To qualify for this exception, the grantee must certify in writing that the project funded under FTA’s ERP does not involve substantial functional, locational or capacity changes and that the local share is available. The Grantee must submit this documentation to FTA in order for the project to be considered eligible for federal participation. If a Grantee is unsure whether a project qualifies as one of the exceptions, it should contact the FTA. If during the grant award process the FTA determines that the exception does not apply to a specific project that the Grantee certified, then that project must be programmed on the TIP/STIP. Absent a certification stating that the project qualifies as one of the exceptions or a previously issued waiver, the FTA expects projects funded under FTA’s ERP be included in the TIP/STIP prior to incurring costs.

Answer:

Recipients affected by Hurricane Sandy may request an FTA Administrator determination that certain terms and conditions not apply when the requirement(s) will limit a recipient’s or sub-recipient’s ability to respond to an emergency or major disaster. Recipients must follow the procedures as set forth in 49 CFR part 601, subpart D when requesting such a determination or seeking a waiver of administrative requirements. The docket is available on www.regulations.gov, and the docket number for calendar year 2013 is FTA–2013–0001. More information is available in the Notice of Availability of Emergency Relief Funding.

Answer:

Congress appropriated $330 million for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-123), signed into law on February 9, 2018.

Answer:

There is no fixed starting date for eligible costs, since different parts of the region may have started preparations at different times. Costs that were incurred in preparation for the storm's landfall during the time that the storm was forecast to hit an affected area are eligible for reimbursement at a 90% Federal share under this announcement unless otherwise noted.

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