News & Publications

Rail Law Alert No. 20

FTA and DOT Announce New Round of TIGER Grant Funding, Propose Changes to Project Requirements

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced new and amended measures regarding federal funding and review of surface transportation projects. Further details and links are provided below.

New round of TIGER funding: DOT announced a new round of funding for competitive TIGER discretionary grants on April 6, 2015, which fund capital improvements in transportation infrastructure that will have a significant impact on the Nation, metropolitan areas, or a region. The total amount of funding for FY 2015 is $500 million. Grant amounts for urban projects must be between $10 million and $200 million. The two-step application process requires: (1) submission of a pre-application by May 4, 2015, through www.dot.gov/TIGER; and (2) submission of a final application by June 5, 2015, through Grants.gov. Potential applicants should note that the process for registering on Grants.gov takes several weeks to complete.

Proposed changes to the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program: On April 8, 2015, FTA released and invited comment on proposed interim policy guidance regarding its discretionary CIG program, which oversees funding for New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity Improvement projects. Comments are due no later than May 8, 2015, at Regulations.gov.

The proposed interim guidance addresses various changes mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012, to allow FTA to complete a final rule to implement all of the statutory changes. Among the new topics covered in the proposed interim guidance are:

  • Measures for the congestion relief criteria for New Starts and Small Starts projects
  • Evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects
  • Qualifying criteria for each phase of the CIG process for each category of project
  • Use of “warrants” to streamline review

Geographically-based preferences in federally-funded contracts: DOT proposed in March 2015 to amend its regulations to allow grant recipients to include geographically-based preferences in contracts for their federally funded projects if such preferences would not otherwise contradict federal law. Currently, government-wide contracting regulations generally prohibit geographically-based preferences. The Federal Highway Administration and FTA will initiate a year-long pilot program allowing their grant recipients to include geographically-based preferences in federally-assisted projects.  FTA published a Q&A guide to the pilot program.  Comments are due no later than May 6, 2015, at Regulations.gov.