[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 48 (Monday, March 12, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 14587-14590]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-5895]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


FY 2012 Discretionary Livability Funding Opportunity: 
Alternatives Analysis Program

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of funding availability for FTA Alternatives Analysis 
Program: Solicitation of Project Proposals.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
availability of Section 5339 Alternatives Analysis program 
discretionary funds for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. FTA will distribute 
these funds in accordance with the mission of this program, consistent 
with the eligibility requirements of this program, and in support of 
the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) livability efforts.
    The Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011 
(Temporary Authorization, 2012), Public Law 112-30, continues the 
authorization of the Federal transit programs of the U.S. DOT through 
March 31, 2012. Subject to action by Congress, FTA will fund the 
Alternatives Analysis program with approximately $25 million of 
unallocated Section 5339 funds made available by the Temporary 
Authorization.
    This notice solicits proposals to compete for FY 2012 funding under 
the aforementioned program and livability initiative. Contingent on 
subsequent appropriations by Congress, FTA may also award FY 2013 funds 
to proposals submitted pursuant to this notice.
    This notice includes priorities established by FTA for these 
discretionary funds, the criteria FTA will use to identify meritorious 
projects for funding, and describes how to apply for funding. This 
announcement is available on the FTA Web site at: http://www.fta.dot.gov. A synopsis of the funding opportunity will be posted 
in the FIND module of the government-wide electronic grants Web site at 
http://www.GRANTS.GOV. FTA will announce final selections on the FTA 
Web site and may also announce selections in the Federal Register.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 
19, 2012. All proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function. Any prospective proposer intending to 
apply should initiate the process of registering on the GRANTS.GOV site 
immediately to ensure completion of registration before the submission 
deadline. Instructions for applying can be found on FTA's Web site at 
http://www.fta.dot.gov/alternativesanalysis and in the ``FIND'' module 
of GRANTS.GOV.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact the appropriate FTA Regional Office 
found at http://www.fta.dot.gov for proposal-specific information and 
issues. For program-specific questions about applying to the 
Alternatives Analysis program outlined in this notice, please contact 
Kenneth Cervenka, Office of Planning and Environment, (202) 493-0512, 
email: kenneth.cervenka@dot.gov. A TDD is available at 1-800-877-8339 
(TDD/FIRS).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Overview of FTA Discretionary Program
    A. Authority
    B. Policy Priorities
II. Discretionary Program Information
    A. Description and Purpose
    B. Eligibility Information
    C. Evaluation Criteria, Review, and Selection
III. Proposal and Submission Information
IV. Award Administration
V. Agency Contacts and Technical Assistance

I. Overview of FTA Discretionary Program

A. Authority

    Section 5339(a) of Title 49, United States Code authorizes the 
Secretary to make awards for FTA's Alternatives Analysis program and 
states:

    The Secretary may award grants to States, authorities of the 
States, metropolitan planning organizations, and local governmental 
authorities to develop alternatives analyses as defined by section 
5309(a)(1).

    Section 5309(a)(1) defines ``alternatives analysis'' as:

    A study conducted as part of the transportation planning process 
required under sections 5303 and 5304, which includes--
    (A) An assessment of a wide range of public transportation 
alternatives designed to address a transportation problem in a 
corridor or subarea;
    (B) Sufficient information to enable the Secretary to make the 
findings of project justification and local financial commitment 
required under this section;
    (C) The selection of a locally preferred alternative; and
    (D) The adoption of the locally preferred alternative as part of 
the long-range transportation plan required under section 5303.

B. Policy Priorities

    Maintaining transit assets in a state of good repair, fostering 
livable communities and promoting sustainable development, and 
improving our Nation's environment through investments in clean energy 
resources, have been key strategic goals of the Department of 
Transportation (DOT) and FTA. Studies funded as a result of this notice 
will further the Department's livability efforts by supporting the 
study of tangible livability improvements within the existing 
Alternatives Analysis program while demonstrating the feasibility and 
value of such improvements.
Livable Communities and Sustainable Development
    FTA has long fostered livable communities and sustainable 
development through its various transit

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programs and activities. Public transportation supports the development 
of communities, providing effective and reliable transportation options 
that increase access to jobs, recreation, health and social services, 
entertainment, educational opportunities, and other activities of daily 
life, while also improving mobility within and among these communities. 
Through various initiatives and legislative changes over the last 
fifteen years, FTA has allowed and encouraged projects that help 
integrate transit into a community through neighborhood improvements 
and enhancements to transportation facilities or services; make 
improvements to areas adjacent to public transit facilities that may 
facilitate mobility needs of transit users; or support other 
infrastructure investments that enhance the use of transit and other 
transportation options for the community.
    On June 16, 2009, U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of 
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, and U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson 
announced a new partnership to help American families in all 
communities--rural, suburban and urban--gain better access to 
affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower 
transportation costs. DOT, HUD, and EPA created this high-level 
interagency partnership to better coordinate federal transportation, 
environmental protection, and housing investments.
    The Alternatives Analysis program will invest in studies that 
fulfill the following six livability principles that serve as the 
foundation for the DOT-HUD-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities:
     Provide more transportation choices: Develop safe, 
reliable, and economical transportation choices to decrease household 
transportation costs, reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, 
improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote public 
health.
     Promote equitable, affordable housing: Expand location- 
and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, 
races and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost 
of housing and transportation.
     Enhance economic competitiveness: Improve economic 
competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment 
centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by 
workers as well as expanded business access to markets.
     Support existing communities: Target Federal funding 
toward existing communities--through such strategies as transit-
oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling-- to increase 
community revitalization, improve the efficiency of public works 
investments, and safeguard rural landscapes.
     Coordinate policies and leverage investment: Align 
policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage 
funding and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels 
of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy 
choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
     Value communities and neighborhoods: Enhance the unique 
characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe and 
walkable neighborhoods--rural, urban or suburban.

II. Discretionary Program Information

A. Description and Purpose

    As defined in 49 U.S.C. 5309(a)(1), an alternatives analysis is a 
study conducted as part of the transportation planning process required 
under Sections 5303 and 5304 which includes: (1) An assessment of a 
wide range of public transportation alternatives designed to address a 
transportation problem in a corridor or subarea; (2) the development of 
sufficient information to enable the Secretary to make the findings of 
project justification and local financial commitment required under 
Section 5309; (3) the selection of a locally preferred alternative; and 
(4) the adoption of the locally preferred alternative as part of the 
long-range transportation plan required under Section 5303.
    The funds available through this notice includes assistance to 
potential sponsors of New Starts and Small Starts projects in the 
evaluation of all reasonable transportation alternatives and general 
alignment options to address transportation needs in a defined travel 
corridor. Information about FTA's New Starts and Small Starts program 
can be found on FTA's web site at http://fta.dot.gov/12347_5221.html. 
FTA will invest in studies that are performed in accordance with the 
mission of the Alternatives Analysis program and support the six 
livability principles that serve as the foundation for the DOT-HUD-EPA 
Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
    FTA advises potential proposers that current provisions of the New 
Starts and Small Starts program are subject to change. On January 25, 
2012, FTA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that 
proposes changes in the measurement of the existing statutory New 
Starts and Small Starts project evaluation criteria. Additionally, 
FTA's current program authorizations expire on March 31, 2012, and any 
new authorizing legislation may prescribe modifications to FTA's 
programs. However, the effective dates of a final rule and any new 
authorizing legislation are uncertain, and the contents of either are 
subject to change from current proposals. Moreover, changes to the 
Federal process will not remove the need for sponsors of major transit 
capital projects to assess costs and benefits of alternative project 
modes and alignments. FTA therefore encourages potential sponsors of 
New Starts and Small Starts projects to maintain their focus on 
conducting a technically sound analysis of alternatives that evaluate 
solutions to transportation problems and facilitate informed decision-
making.

B. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Proposers
    Section 5339 authorizes FTA to award grants to States, authorities 
of the States, metropolitan planning organizations, and local 
governmental authorities to develop alternatives analyses as defined by 
Section 5309(a)(1).
2. Eligible Proposals and Expenses
    FTA will award available discretionary funds to eligible proposers 
to conduct a new alternatives analysis or to support additional 
technical tasks in an on-going alternatives analysis that will improve 
and expand the information available to decision-makers considering 
major transit improvements. FTA will consider proposals for all areas 
of technical work that can better develop information about the costs 
and benefits of potential major transit improvements. These funds are 
not available for systems planning work that leads to the selection of 
a particular corridor for conducting an alternatives analysis, or for 
work performed after the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) has been 
selected. There is no blanket pre-award authority for studies to be 
funded under this notice before FTA's public announcement of the 
selections.
3. Cost Sharing or Matching
    The total federal share (Section 5339 funds plus other federal 
funds) of the cost of studies or technical tasks selected for funding 
may not exceed 80 percent. Section 5339 requests may range between 
$50,000 and $2 million.

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Funds remain available for three fiscal years, including the fiscal 
year in which the award is made. FTA will not approve deferred local 
share requests under this program.

C. Evaluation Criteria, Review, and Selection

1. Evaluation Criteria
    The submitted proposals will be evaluated according to the 
following criteria. Each proposer is encouraged to demonstrate the 
responsiveness of their proposal to any and all of the selection 
criteria with the most relevant information that the proposer can 
provide, regardless of whether such information has been specifically 
requested, or identified, in this notice. FTA will assess the extent to 
which the proposal addresses each of the three criteria below.
a. Demonstrated Need
    Proposers must demonstrate a need for these funds by identifying a 
transportation problem in the study corridor that warrants an 
evaluation of major transit improvements, including alternatives that 
may be suitable for New Starts or Small Starts funding. For both new 
and ongoing alternatives analyses, higher scores will be assigned to 
studies in areas that have been prioritized in the metropolitan 
planning process as having a significant transportation need, 
particularly through inclusion of conceptual corridor improvements in 
fiscally constrained long-range transportation plans. Proposals for 
both new and ongoing studies must show there is a need for these funds 
to support a meaningful future analysis of alternative modes and 
alignments, as opposed to efforts aimed at justifying largely 
predefined projects.
b. Advancing Livability
    Proposers must describe the proposed study's role in broader 
efforts to advance the six DOT-HUD-EPA Livability Principles. Higher 
scores will be assigned to proposals that are linked to a history of 
concrete actions as well as ongoing planning efforts to enhance 
livability.
c. Study Approach and Outcomes
    Proposers must outline a study approach that is likely to provide 
decision-makers with actionable information about the costs and 
benefits of investment alternatives while meaningfully involving 
project stakeholders. Higher scores will be assigned to proposals that 
demonstrate successful outcomes from prior alternatives analyses, a 
robust public involvement plan, evidence of partnerships with related 
organizations (such as housing- and environment-focused public 
agencies), and demonstration of technical capacity to complete all 
work.
2. Review and Selection Process
    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will review proposals based on the 
evaluation criteria. Members of the technical evaluation committee and 
other involved FTA staff reserve the right to screen the proposals and 
seek clarification from any proposer about any statement in the 
proposal that FTA finds ambiguous and/or request additional 
documentation to be considered during the evaluation process to clarify 
information contained within the proposal. After consideration of the 
findings of the technical evaluation committee, the FTA Administrator 
will determine the final selection and amount of funding for each 
study. Geographic diversity and other discretionary awards may be 
considered in FTA's award decisions. FTA expects to announce the 
selected studies and notify successful proposers in August 2012.

III. Proposal and Submission Information

A. Proposal Submission Process

    Proposals must be submitted electronically through http://www.GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. EDT, April 19, 2012. Mail and fax 
submissions will not be accepted.
    A complete proposal submission will consist of at least three 
files: (1) The SF 424 Mandatory form (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV); (2) 
the supplemental form found on the FTA Alternatives Analysis program 
Web site: http://fta.dot.gov/alternativesanalysis; and (3) a map of the 
study corridor. The supplemental form, titled Applicant and Proposal 
Profile, provides guidance and a consistent format for proposers to 
respond to the criteria outlined in this NOFA. Once completed, the 
supplemental form and the study corridor map must be placed in the 
attachments section of the SF 424 Mandatory form. Letters of support 
and materials referenced in the supplemental form may also be submitted 
as attachments; however, FTA will not consider narrative beyond the 
text that can be accommodated within the supplemental form's character 
limits.
    Within 24-48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
proposer should receive three email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV, (2) confirmation 
of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV, and (3) confirmation of 
successful validation by FTA. If confirmations of successful validation 
are not received and a notice of failed validation or incomplete 
materials is received, the proposer must address the reason for the 
failed validation or incomplete materials and resubmit before the 
submission deadline. If making a resubmission for any reason, include 
all original attachments regardless of which attachments were updated 
and check the box on the supplemental form indicating this is a 
resubmission.
    Complete instructions on the application process can be found at 
http://www.fta.dot.gov/alternativesanalysis. Important: FTA urges 
proposers to submit their applications at least 72 hours prior to the 
due date to allow time to receive the validation message and to correct 
any problems that may have caused a rejection notification. Submissions 
after the stated submission deadline will not be accepted. GRANTS.GOV 
scheduled maintenance and outage times are announced on the GRANTS.GOV 
Web site http://www.GRANTS.GOV. Deadlines will not be extended due to 
scheduled maintenance or outages.

B. Proposal Content

    Information such as applicant name, federal amount requested, match 
amount, description of areas served, etc. are requested in varying 
degrees of detail on both the SF 424 Mandatory form and supplemental 
``Applicant and Proposal Profile'' form. All fields are required unless 
stated otherwise on the forms. Use both the ``Check Package for 
Errors'' and the ``Validate Form'' validation buttons on both forms to 
check all required fields on the forms. Ensure that the ``Federal'' 
amount identified on the SF 424 Mandatory form is the same as the 
``5339 Request'' total amount calculated on the supplemental form. For 
up-to-date guidance on the completion of all forms, refer to FTA's 
Alternatives Analysis Web site: http://fta.dot.gov/alternativesanalysis. The supplemental form has three sections:
1. Applicant Information
    This section contains basic proposer identification information: 
organization legal name, FTA Recipient ID number, and transit services 
provided.

[[Page 14590]]

 2. Project (Study) Information
    This section contains background information about the project 
(study): title, proposed scope of work, map of the study corridor (map 
attachment to SF 424 application is required), descriptions of the 
corridor, project budget allocated into major tasks, including the 
source of local match, and time-line for beginning and ending the major 
tasks.
3. Evaluation Criteria
    This section contains information for direct use in the evaluation 
process: demonstrated need, advancing livability, and study approach 
and outcomes.

C. Submission Dates and Times

    Complete proposals for the Alternatives Analysis program must be 
submitted electronically through GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 
19, 2012. Proposers are encouraged to begin the process of registration 
on the GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Registration is a multi-step process, which may take several weeks to 
complete before a proposal can be submitted. Registered proposers may 
still be required to take steps to keep their registration up to date 
before submissions can be made successfully: (1) registration in the 
Central Contractor Repository (CCR) is renewed annually and (2) persons 
making submissions on behalf of the Authorized Organization 
Representative (AOR) must be authorized in GRANTS.GOV by the AOR to 
make submissions.

IV. Award Administration

A. Award Notices

    At the time the project (study) selections are announced, FTA will 
extend pre-award authority for the selected projects awarded to current 
grantees. There is no blanket pre-award authority for these projects 
before announcement.

B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

1. Grant Requirements
    If selected, applicants will apply for a grant through TEAM and 
adhere to the customary FTA grant requirements of the Section 5339 
Alternatives Analysis program, including those of FTA Circular 9300.1B, 
Circular 5010.1D, and the labor protections of 49 U.S.C. Section 
5333(b). These grants will be administered and managed by the FTA 
regional offices. The Alternatives Analysis must be documented in the 
Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) of the MPO for the area before 
these funds can be used. All discretionary grants, regardless of award 
amount, will be subject to the Congressional Notification and release 
process. Technical assistance regarding these requirements is available 
from each FTA regional office.
2. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, FTA circulars, and 
other Federal administrative requirements in carrying out any activity 
supported by the FTA grant. The applicant acknowledges that it is under 
a continuing obligation to comply with the terms and conditions of the 
grant agreement issued for its project with FTA. The applicant 
understands that Federal laws, regulations, policies, and 
administrative practices might be modified from time to time and may 
affect the implementation of the project. The applicant agrees that the 
most recent Federal requirements will apply to the project, unless FTA 
issues a written determination otherwise. The applicant must submit the 
Certifications and Assurances before receiving a grant if it does not 
have current certifications on file.
3. Reporting
    Post-award reporting requirements include submission of Federal 
Financial Reports and Milestone reports in TEAM on a quarterly basis 
for all projects. Documentation is required for payment. In addition, 
project sponsors receiving grants for innovative approaches may be 
required to report on the performance of these approaches.

V. Agency Contacts and Technical Assistance

    Contact the appropriate FTA Regional Office at http://www.fta.dot.gov for proposal-specific information and issues. For 
general program information, please use the contact identified in the 
front of this notice. During the application period, FTA may post 
answers to commonly asked questions about the Alternatives Analysis 
program at www.fta.dot.gov/alternativesanalysis.

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 7th day of March, 2012.
Peter Rogoff,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-5895 Filed 3-9-12; 8:45 am]
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