FRA Offers $198MM in SOGR Grants

Written by David C. Lester, Engineering Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)—including $198 million in grant funding—for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grant Program (Partnership Program); applications are due March 7, 2022.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Partnership Program aims to “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,” FRA reported on Dec. 7. “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 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.

According to FRA, project proposals should support key U.S. Department of Transportation 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%, FRA said, and the required 20% 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% or less federal share of total project costs.

While this NOFO (download below) is authorized and appropriated under the FAST Act, starting next year in FY 2022, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will increase funding for the Partnership Program, authorizing up to $43.5 billion over five years, according to FRA. These funds will be made available to the NEC and for eligible uses outside the NEC to advance transformational projects.

“The Partnership Program will make targeted investments to improve and modernize rail assets used in intercity passenger rail service,” FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose said. “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.”

FRA will host a webinar on Dec. 14, 2021, to provide technical assistance to applicants.

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