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Emergency Relief Program FAQs

To view a set of frequently asked questions, select a topic and category based on your interest area. Perform a word search or choose a topic from the list.

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:

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:

As with other Hurricane Sandy funds, construction agreements are required for all projects receiving $500 million or more of Federal funds and FTA may require their use for projects receiving $100 million or more. FTA is evaluating the risk of each grant and/or major capital project to determine the appropriate level of oversight. Based on that review FTA will determine whether a risk assessment or other oversight is required.

Answer:

In accordance with the answer to the previous question, if a portion of funds are awarded for a project component that must be undertaken by an intercity passenger rail operator, those funds may be transferred to FRA for administration. If such a proposal is submitted as a single project, the applicant must clearly identify the portion of the project proposed to be administered by the intercity rail operator.

Answer:

Regardless of the results of the risk assessment, FTA expects the recipient to complete the scope of the Resilience project applied for without expectation of additional Hurricane Sandy funding. FTA may require the recipient to identify additional funding sources if necessary.Regardless of the results of the risk assessment, FTA expects the recipient to complete the scope of the Resilience project applied for without expectation of additional Hurricane Sandy funding. FTA may require the recipient to identify additional funding sources if necessary.

Answer:

Yes, however FTA will only participate in the scope of the project that was funded in the award announcement. In most cases, this scope corresponds with a proposed “scaled” option for the project. Other sources of funding would be required for the other elements of the project. If you are unsure what elements of the project are included in the award, please contact your regional office for additional guidance.

Answer:

It is reasonable to expect that transit agencies used (and continue to use) their own staff for response and recovery work. Agencies may have ongoing recovery work for which they continue to use their own forces, as opposed to contractors. Any hurricane response/recovery work done by your staff prior to January 29 would fall into Category 1, since the grantee is simply seeking reimbursement. However, if you have plans to continue to use your staff for recovery work that has not yet occurred, then those expenses are eligible under Category 3, as long as you can show documentation that the work is budgeted and ongoing. By budgeted, we mean an amendment to your budget that shows a line item for hurricane response, or something that shows you’ve moved staff off of regular tasks to hurricane response (Board meeting minutes, etc.). If you cannot show us that you have budgeted for that work prior to the 29th, then that work will still be eligible for reimbursement using the agency’s prorated allocation.

Answer:

Although Section 904(c) of the Disaster Relief Act requires that funds received under the Disaster Relief Act be expended within two years of obligation, OMB issued a waiver of this requirement for grants awarded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. In issuing this waiver, OMB stated an expectation that Federal agencies and grantees will work together to ensure that funds obligated under the Disaster Relief Act are expended in a timely manner. Based on the complexity of projects selected, FTA expects to award funds for major capital projects that will take multiple years to complete. While there is not a defined timeframe in which these funds must be obligated and expended, all projects must be undertaken and completed in accordance with the project application and grant agreement and all identified milestones.

Answer:

Yes, you may apply for multiple resilience projects in a single grant if the period of performance is similar and the combination will not delay obligation or disbursement of funds for a project due to federal requirements such as environmental work.

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:

Yes, FTA is preparing to publish an official notice of public transportation resilience awards. This notice will include detailed further instructions and further guidance on the program.

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