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USDOT Opens Funding for the FASTLANE

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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Applications are now being accepted for federal funding available through a new program included in the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

The Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program was developed to fund critical freight and highway projects across the country, the U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement Friday (Feb. 26).

The FAST Act authorizes $800 million in funding for the FASTLANE program for fiscal year 2016, with 25 percent reserved for rural projects and 10 percent for smaller projects.

istock/EyeJoy
© iStock.com / EyeJoy

The USDOT is soliciting applications for the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies; submissions are due April 14.

“Our nation needs a strong multimodal freight system to both compete in the global economy and meet the needs of consumers and industry,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. 

“We now have an opportunity to fund high-impact projects that address key challenges affecting the movement of people and freight.”

Applications for FY 2016 are due by April 14. The Grants.gov “Apply” function will become active March 15.

What Is FASTLANE?

The FASTLANE grant program provides dedicated funding for projects of national or regional significance, i.e., those that address critical freight issues facing the nation’s highways and bridges. 

For the first time in the USDOT’s 50-year history, the program establishes broad, multiyear eligibilities for freight infrastructure, including intermodal projects, the agency said.

FASTLANE grants are intended to tackle many of the challenges outlined in the USDOT report Beyond Traffic, including increased congestion on the nation’s highways and the need for a strong multimodal transportation system to support the expected growth in freight movement both by ton and value. 

It is also in line with the DOT’s draft National Freight Strategic Plan released in October 2015, which looks at challenges and identifies strategies to address impediments to the efficient flow of goods throughout the nation.

"Our economy depends on a strong multi-modal transportation system to move materials and products across the United States,” U.S. Maritime Administration official Paul "Chip" Jaenichen said in an email promoting the DOT announcement.

“Now we have the ability to ensure dedicated funding that will improve the movement of freight and meet regional economic demands," he added.

Funding Eligibility

FASTLANE grants, authorized by the FAST Act’s Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program, will fund small and large projects, based on project size, that meet statutory requirements. 

Large projects (those at a minimum cost of $100 million or a certain specified statutory percentage of the project state’s FY 2015 apportionment) are eligible for a minimum award of $25 million, according to the DOT. 

Small projects, those below the minimum large project size threshold, are eligible for a minimum award of $5 million.

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© iStock.com / rootstocks

The FASTLANE grant program provides dedicated funding for projects of national or regional significance, i.e., those that address critical freight issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges.

Eligible projects include:

  • A highway freight project carried out on the National Highway Freight Network;
  • A highway or bridge project carried out on the National Highway System (NHS), including projects that add capacity on the Interstate System to improve mobility or projects in a national scenic area;
  • A railway-highway grade crossing or grade separation project; or
  • A freight project that is
    • An intermodal or rail project, or
    • Within the boundaries of a public or private freight rail, water (including ports), or intermodal facility; is a surface transportation infrastructure project necessary to facilitate direct intermodal interchange, transfer, or access into or out of the facility; or will significantly improve freight movement on the National Highway Freight Network. For these projects Federal funds can only support project elements that provide public benefits.

The NSFHP program is authorized at $4.5 billion through 2020. 

More information on eligibility requirements and the application process is available at https://www.transportation.gov/FASTLANEgrants.

Additional Funding Availability

The USDOT permits applicants to apply separately but simultaneously to FASTLANE and the current solicitation for TIGER grants, with a maximum of three applications submitted to each of the discretionary grant programs, meeting their respective deadlines.

TIGER discretionary grants are intended to fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. According to program guidelines, funds are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region.

The investments focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities, both urban and rural.

Applicants may apply for the same project to both programs, but must submit separate applications that independently address how the project satisfies the selection criteria required under each. 

The DOT notes, however, that while a project may be eligible for award under both programs, the same application is unlikely to be responsive to both programs’ notices of funding opportunity because the purposes and selection criteria of the programs differ.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Funding; Grants; Infrastructure; North America; Ports; Program/Project Management; Rail; Transportation

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