FTA Seeks Applicants for Expedited New Start Delivery Pilot

The Federal Transit Administration on July 29 belatedly issued a notice requesting applications for a FAST Act pilot program for expedited delivery of fixed guideway mass transit projects.

“This innovative pilot program will expedite transportation infrastructure projects in several communities around the country,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The pilot program provides for expedited project delivery for new projects that utilize public-private partnerships, and for which the federal share of capital costs does not exceed 25 percent.

The pilot program was enacted in section 3005(b) of the FAST Act of 2015. It was not given a specific dollar amount of authorized funding – instead, FAST simply authorized appropriations for the Capital Investment Grant program and the pilot program cumulatively at $2.3 billion per year. The pilot program received appropriations of $5 million in fiscal 2016, $20 million in fiscal 2017, nothing in fiscal 2018, then $100 million in each of fiscal 2019 and 2020, for a total of $225 million in available appropriations to date.

However, the Administration took the unusual step of announcing the first recipient of funding under the pilot program in August 2019 – eleven months before the notice of funding opportunity setting out rules for the program was published. (There was an earlier notice soliciting expressions of interest, in September 2018, after which four project sponsors expressed interest for seven of their projects.)

The BART Silicon Valley Phase II project was selected, and its sponsor, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, has been allocated $125 million. (The project sponsors are seeking a total of $1.395 billion in appropriations through FTA, which is 25 percent of the project’s capital cost, which means that they still have to get a full funding grant agreement promising $1.270 billion in appropriation.)

So the new NOFO only has $100 million to give out, not $225 million.

The FAST Act allows up to eight participants in the pilot program, so seven slots are still available.

The NOFO does not have a deadline – the press release says that “Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until up to eight grants are awarded, subject to funding availability.”

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