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USDOT Announces Availability of Grant Program

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced last week the availability of $225 million in grant funding through its Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program. According to USDOT, $100 million of that funding is currently available for allocation.

A Notice of Funding Opportunity has been published on the Federal Register for the program, which aims to achieve faster delivery of new transit capital projects.

"This innovative pilot program will expedite transportation infrastructure projects in several communities around the country," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The Program

FTA's Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program aims to streamline project delivery of new transit infrastructure that meets program requirements. To be eligible, state or local government authorities must demonstrate:

  • Legal, financial, and technical capacities to carry out the eligible project, including the safety and security aspects of the eligible project;
  • Satisfactory continuing control over the use of the equipment or facilities;
  • The technical and financial capacity to maintain new and existing equipment and facilities;
  • That they have qualified advisors providing guidance on the terms and structure of the project who are independent from investors in the project; and
  • That the existing public transportation system is in a state of good repair. (This requirement could be waived by FTA if the project meets the definition of a core capacity improvement project, and FTA determines that the eligible project will allow the applicant to make substantial progress in achieving a state of good repair.)
Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced last week the availability of $225 million in grant funding through its Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program. According to USDOT, $100 million of that funding is currently available for allocation.

"By encouraging innovative partnerships and funding from a variety of sources, projects can be completed more quickly, making better use of taxpayer dollars, and bringing new transit service to growing communities," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

The EPD Pilot Program is authorized by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. Projects must also utilize public-private partnerships, be operated and maintained by employees of an existing public transportation provider and have a federal cost share not exceeding 25% of the project cost.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until up to eight grants are awarded, as specified by the FAST Act.

The expedition part of the EPD Pilot Program is in support of USDOT’s, “commitment to follow the President's One Federal Decision framework to cut red tape and deliver infrastructure projects and safety improvements more quickly to spur economic growth.”

Last month, the Department announced that it has saved the economy and consumers about $90 billion in regulatory costs under the Trump Administration.

Chao said in the press release that, since 2017, the DOT has achieved increasing cost savings every year and has reportedly already surpassed its Fiscal Year 2020 goal of $40 billion.

Funding

The grant money comes at a time when many infrastructure projects have been sidelined because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, for instance, are trying to grapple with how to pay for projects.

At a May state Senate hearing, Acting Secretary Yassmin Gramian said that a revenue loss of $900 million is projected, largely attributed to the pandemic causing Pennsylvanians to drive less.

The reduced driving throughout the state shutdown has drastically cut the gasoline tax revenue, which is what PennDOT primarily uses for projects that include maintenance.

Because of this, Gramian said that only 33 of 96 contracts that PennDOT has received bids for (worth $380 million) have funding. The rest are being reevaluated. She also said that the agency will shift maintenance projects from resurfacing to tar-and-chipping wherever possible.

In addition to PennDOT’s gas tax revenue, Turnpike CEO Mark Compton also said that the light traffic has resulted in a projected loss of $500 million in toll revenue, prompting the Turnpike to cut its capital budget for the fiscal year that began in June from $606 million to $459 million.

Gramian said that PennDOT was projected to spend $2.2 billion this year on roads and bridges, but is instead expected to now spend about $1.8 billion.

“Some of those nonessential contracts we put on hold for the time being,” Gramian said. “Many of the ways we did business may be changed forever.”

In addition, officials added that contractors might have to wait longer for payments because of slow cashflow.

PennDOT spokesperson Alexis Campbell did confirm that road and bridges projects that are already underway will continue. PennDOT has since withdrawn advertisements for bids on at least 19 projects.

Officials hesitated to speak on which big projects will be delayed as they hope to get money from national infrastructure programs (such as the EPD Pilot Program), which could come with its own strings attached.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Finance; Good Technical Practice; Government; Grants; Infrastructure; NA; North America

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