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Frequently Asked Questions

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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:

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:

A full breakdown of the Allocations by Transit Operator – such as a State DOT, county, city, or local/regional transit agency.

Note: Only allocations exceeding $25,000 are being published today, though agencies whose costs are lower than that amount remain eligible for reimbursement as well.

Answer:

The bulk of the appropriation, $277.525 million, is being allocated today to Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for response, recovery, rebuilding, and resiliency projects. It is standard practice for FTA Emergency Relief Program funds to be delivered in multiple allocations, to allow affected grantees appropriate time to evaluate their needs and to assess damages.

As authorized by the appropriating legislation, a small amount of the funding ($2.475 million) will go toward administrative and oversight expenses.

Answer:

FTA is allocating funding in this notice for response, recovery, and rebuilding ($232.308 million) based on emergency operations costs and detailed damage assessments submitted by affected agencies that were prepared and verified in cooperation with FTA and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

Allocations for resilience ($44.2 million) are based first on a $5 million base allocation to each State or territory with at least $1 million in damages, with the remaining $24.2 million distributed proportionally according to damage assessments.

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:

FTA decided to set aside $50 million of the overall $330 million appropriation for latent damages and other emergency-related expenses from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that may arise in the future.

Answer:

FTA’s ER program functions on a reimbursement basis. The allocation specifies the maximum amount currently available to each State/Territory/jurisdiction based primarily on their proportionate share of emergency expenses and damages to their public transportation assets and infrastructure arising from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

For recovery projects, FTA staff worked closely with transit officials in the affected regions ahead of the hurricanes’ landfall to advise them of ER program requirements and ensure they had the knowledge and resources in place to carefully track emergency expenditures for potential reimbursement.  For resilience projects, specifically, to receive FTA ER funding, the State or Territory must also prepare a program of projects and submit it to FTA for advance review and approval before moving forward with expenditures.

As grants applications are developed, FTA will review the proposed activities to ensure they are only used for eligible purposes and are in compliance with all applicable Federal requirements.  FTA will also include special grant conditions for all Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria Emergency Relief funds.

Once projects are awarded in grants, recipients are required to submit Federal Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports to FTA to provide information about the status of the projects.  FTA will also undertake additional oversight, including Triennial Reviews and State Management Reviews and other reviews as necessary.

For resilience projects, specifically to receive FTA ER funding, the State or Territory must prepare a program of projects and submit it to FTA for advance review and approval before moving forward with expenditures.

Answer:

FTA has been working closely with grantees in the storms’ aftermath and has utilized in-house staff and expert contractor support to help conduct and verify the damage assessments that form the basis for reimbursement requests.

To receive FTA ER funding, grantees must comply with ER program requirements as documented in the FTA Emergency Relief Program Final Rule and further explained in the Emergency Relief Manual, and must provide FTA with appropriate documentation in advance of any Federal funds being disbursed.

In addition to FTA’s standard oversight of grantees, FTA reserves the right to conduct more frequent and/or specific assessments as needed.

Answer:

As authorized by Congress, upon appropriation of Emergency Relief funds FTA has primary responsibility for reimbursing emergency response and recovery costs after an emergency or major disaster that affects public transportation systems. FTA works closely with FEMA and grantees to make sure that FTA ER funds do not go toward expenses that have already been reimbursed by any other Federal agency.

Answer:

Yes! Any transit agency impacted by these hurricanes that is an FTA direct recipient, State, or Territory may apply for Emergency Relief funding even if it is not listed as receiving an allocation. If your agency is a subrecipient to another organization that receives FTA funding, you can apply through that organization. Contact your FTA regional office for more information.

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:

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:

No, applicants are not required to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate multiple alternatives for protecting a given asset, although this may be a useful step in selecting and identifying proposed projects for this competition.
As a part of the evaluation criterion “Protection of Most Vulnerable and Essential Infrastructure”, applicants should explain how and why a particular alternative was identified for this competition. This evaluation may use FTA’s HMCE tool, or may utilize a similar hazard-mitigation focused BCA process.

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. If my agency has incurred eligibility expenses, recovery and/or resiliency, in advance of having the project programmed in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Statewide Improvement Program (STIP), can they be reimbursed from my pro-rated allocations for recovery and local priority resiliency? It depends. Some grantees, in preparation for the 2013 hurricane season, have incurred costs on local recovery and resiliency projects prior to those projects being included in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) or the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Inclusion in the TIP/STIP is a requirement for pre-award authority. Given the short time frame for completing these projects, FTA has determined that it will reimburse costs incurred for recovery and approved resiliency projects if those projects are in the TIP/STIP by November 1, 2013. However, grantees are reminded that the planning requirement is just one of the pre-award requirements. In order to be eligible for reimbursement, the project must have met other applicable federal requirements (e.g. NEPA, procurement) or had a waiver in place. Resiliency projects also require FTA approval prior to incurring costs to confirm eligibility.Beyond November 1, the agency will need to determine if we will permit reimbursement of costs incurred that were not in compliance with the planning rule.FTA also already published guidance in a previous Q&A about exceptions that may apply to recovery projects that do not involve substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes. If you have a recovery project that may qualify for this exception to the planning rule (23 CFR 450.324), please submit the request in writing to the FTA Sandy Office. (here)

Answer:

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

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