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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

More details on how the FRA will manage, evaluate the new competitive grant process


During the next several weeks, will be checking in with various states to find out which states plan to apply for Florida’s rejected high-speed rail funds, and the projects for which they’ll be submitting applications. State officials we’ve spoken with so far told us it’s still too early to provide specifics at this point. Applications are due April 4.

In the meantime, here’s some information on the grant process and how the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) plans to award remaining and future high-speed and intercity passenger-rail (HSIPR) funds.

• FRA is soliciting applications for $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds previously announced for Florida, as well as $38 million in unallocated American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars.

• FRA’s Notice of Funding Availability also is intended to establish a pipeline of projects that could receive other HSIPR funds, including savings from previously awarded projects that come in under budget, funds withdrawn from previously awarded projects that are not proceeding satisfactorily and other appropriated funds authorized under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. As a result, applicants shouldn’t be concerned about applying for funds from a specific appropriations statute, but rather submit the best projects that could be funded from all sources.

• Applicants are encouraged to contribute non-federal matching dollars, and the FRA will consider available matching funds when evaluating an application’s merit.

• Any projects receiving funds under ARRA still must have funds obligated by Sept. 30, 2012 and be complete by Sept. 30, 2017, as specified in the legislation.

• Even though Florida received about $2.4 billion for one project — the Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed service development program — FRA is not requiring that the full amount available be awarded to one project or one corridor. FRA anticipates making multiple awards with the funding available.

• FRA is soliciting grants for both service development programs (a set of inter-related capital projects that will introduce new or substantially improved high-speed or intercity passenger-rail services) and individual projects that will provide service improvements and other benefits on a corridor. Individual projects can include preliminary engineering, National Environmental Policy Act documentation, final design and construction.

• Eligible applicants include states, groups of states, interstate compacts, public agencies established by one or more states that have responsibility for providing intercity or high-speed passenger-rail service, Amtrak and Amtrak in cooperation with states.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/16/2011