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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:

In general, the acquisition of spare parts is an eligible capital expense under FTA’s Emergency Relief program. Pursuant to the May 29, 2013 Federal Register Notice, FTA will review proposed local priority resiliency projects based on information included in the program of projects, including the resiliency justification. The acquisition of additional spare parts may be justified in cases where an extreme weather event or other emergency would accelerate the consumption of particular parts (e.g. replacement parts for modular flood barriers or pump equipment), where spare parts likely to be affected by an emergency require extended lead times, or where a higher standing inventory of a particular item has been otherwise identified as necessary as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Provisions of the DOT Common Grant Rule 49 CFR Part 18 Section 18.32 apply to the acquisition of spare parts.

Answer:

No. This Competitive Resilience NOFA is for resilience projects only, which may include upgrades or other improvements to existing assets. Recovery project should be funded from the initial Category 1-3 allocations or the pro-rated recovery allocations published by FTA on March 28, 2013 and May 29, 2013. If an agency has repair and recovery costs exceeding the amount that has been allocated to date (less any insurance settlements), they should discuss this with FTA.

Answer:

Yes, an applicant may apply for funding for a project that has previously been funded through FTA’s Emergency Relief Program or other programs, however, the funds must be for elements of the project for which funds are currently not obligated. This includes projects that are in the design or engineering stages for which federal funding has been received or resiliency components of a federally funded recovery project if the applicant can demonstrate it has not received sufficient funding from FTA already to carry out the resiliency components. Note that FTA will not allocate competitive resilience funds in cases where they would displace other Federal funds that have been obligated on existing projects. Projects funded from local or state funds may not be eligible if they did not receive FTA pre-award authority or if they do not comply with Federal requirements.

Answer:

The applicant must demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to complete the resilience project. If a resiliency projects is dependent on another project being implemented, the applicant must demonstrate they have funding committed (whether federal, state or local) to carry out the other project.

Answer:

The 100% Federal share is only for specific emergency operations and emergency protective measures incurred between October 30- November 14, 2012 in affected areas in CT, NY, and NJ. These costs include: evacuations; rescue operations; moving rolling stock to higher ground in order to protect it from storm surges; additional bus or ferry service to replace inoperable rail service or to detour around damaged areas; returning evacuees to their homes after the hurricane; and the net project costs related to reestablishing, expanding, or relocating public transportation service before, during, or after the hurricane. Eligible costs include emergency protective measures (capital projects) intended to protect transit infrastructure from Hurricane Sandy and that were undertaken to respond to the immediate aftermath of the storm. Eligible costs incurred prior to October 30, 2012 or after November 14, 2012 are eligible for reimbursement at a 90% Federal share.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

Answer:

FTA does not require that any NEPA work be completed prior to applying. However, applicants should have a reasonable understanding about the NEPA class of action required for the project, as this will allow them to develop an appropriate project timeline. If a project is selected, agencies are advised to consult with FTA prior to grant submittal and indicate in the grant submission if a 4(f) or Section 106 review will be needed.

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