Federal Railroad Administration announces availability of $198 million for intercity passenger rail projects

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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DOT awards grants to TriMet and King County Metro for COVID-19 response.
U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grant Program (Partnership Program).

The NOFO includes $198 million in grant funding to repair and rehabilitate qualified intercity passenger railroad infrastructure and assets. It will also provide an opportunity to jumpstart investments in eligible projects under the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“The Partnership Program will make targeted investments to improve and modernize rail assets used in intercity passenger rail service,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose. “This funding provides a valuable opportunity to enhance the safety, efficiency and resiliency of intercity passenger rail infrastructure and services, and we encourage all eligible parties to apply.”

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Partnership Program will fund capital projects that reduce the state of good repair backlog and improve intercity passenger rail performance on publicly or Amtrak-owned or -controlled infrastructure. Eligible applicants may seek to replace existing assets in-kind or with new ones that increase capacity or provide a higher level of service; ensure that service can be maintained while existing assets are brought to a state of good repair; and bring existing assets to a state of good repair. This notice also makes some incidental Capital Project expenses eligible for funding, including designing, engineering, location surveying, mapping, environmental studies and acquiring rights-of-way.

Under the Partnership Program, grants are intended to benefit both the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the considerable amount of infrastructure, equipment and facilities outside the NEC that are publicly or Amtrak-owned or-controlled. Applications will be evaluated and selected on a competitive basis. Project proposals should support key Departmental objectives including: fostering a safe transportation system; contributing to equitable economic progress from infrastructure investment; ensuring investments meet racial equity and economic inclusion goals; increasing resilience and addressing climate change; and transforming our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

The Federal share of a project’s total cost must not exceed 80 percent, and the required 20 percent non-Federal share may be composed of public sector or private sector funding, or both. Selection preference will be given to applications that propose a 50 percent or less Federal share of total project costs.

While this NOFO is authorized and appropriated under the FAST Act, starting next year in FY22, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will increase funding for the Partnership Program, authorizing up to $43.5 billion over five years. These funds will be made available to the NEC and for eligible uses outside the NEC to advance transformational projects.

The FY21 Partnership Program NOFO will be published in the Federal Register on December 7, 2021, and applications are due on March 7, 2022. FRA will host a webinar on December 14, 2021, to provide technical assistance to applicants. For more details about the Partnership Program and to register for the webinar, click here.

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