[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 83 (Friday, April 29, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25752-25758]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-10077]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grants

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of funding opportunity.

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SUMMARY: This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO or notice) details 
the application requirements and procedures for obtaining grant funding 
for eligible projects under the Railroad Safety Infrastructure 
Improvement Grant program. The opportunities described in this notice 
are available under Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) 
number 20.301, ``Rail Safety Grants.''

[[Page 25753]]


DATES: Applications for funding under this notice are due no later than 
5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), on June 14, 2016. Applications 
for funding received after 5:00 p.m. EDT on June 14, 2016, will not be 
considered for funding. See Section 4 of this notice for additional 
information regarding the application process.

ADDRESSES: Applications for funding must be submitted via Grants.gov. 
For any required or supporting application materials that an applicant 
is unable to submit via Grants.gov (such as oversized engineering 
drawings), the applicant may submit an original and two copies to John 
Winkle, attn.: Mary Ann McNamara, Office of Program Delivery, Federal 
Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W38-302, Mail 
Stop 20, Washington, DC 20590. However, due to delays caused by 
enhanced screening of mail delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, 
applicants are advised to use other means of document conveyance, such 
as courier service, to ensure timely delivery. Courier service should 
include the room number in the address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding this 
notice, please contact John Winkle, attn.: Mary Ann McNamara, Office of 
Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Room W38-302, Mail Stop 20, Washington, DC 20590; Email: 
[email protected]; Phone: (202) 493-6067; Fax: (202) 493-6333.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Notice to applicants: FRA recommends that applicants read this 
notice in its entirety prior to preparing application materials. There 
are several administrative requirements described herein that 
applicants must comply with to submit an application and application 
requirements may differ depending on the type of proposed project. FRA 
has established a Web page for grant notices, at www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0933, that contains required application materials and additional 
guidance for topics referenced in this notice.
    Additionally, applicants should note that the required project 
narrative component of the application package may not exceed 25 pages 
in length.

Table of Contents

1. Program Description
2. Federal Award Information
3. Eligibility Information
4. Application and Submission Information
5. Application Review
6. Federal Award Administration
7. Federal Awarding Agency Contact

Section 1: Program Description

1.1 Background

    FRA's mission is to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient 
movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the 
future. America's population is estimated to increase by 70 million 
people, or more than 20 percent, by 2045. Freight shipments are 
forecasted to increase by 45 percent over the same period. Rail 
transportation will play a critical role in accommodating the passenger 
and freight mobility demands of our growing population.
    As our population grows, so too does the use of our transportation 
infrastructure. However, the funding necessary to maintain and improve 
our transportation system has not kept pace with this usage and the 
burdens placed upon it, which has led to a widening infrastructure 
deficit as more transportation assets fall into a state of disrepair. 
This is particularly true on our nation's rail network, where a 
significant backlog of rail infrastructure, stations, and equipment 
repair or replacement needs have accumulated after decades of 
underinvestment. Maintaining infrastructure and equipment is essential 
for safe, reliable, and efficient railroad operations.
    To help address these concerns, over the past several years, FRA 
has administered several rail infrastructure rehabilitation and 
improvement grant programs, including the Rail Line Relocation and 
Improvement program, the Safe Transportation of Energy Products 
program, and the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. In the 
fiscal year 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress appropriated 
$25 million for the Rail Safety Infrastructure Improvements Grant 
program. Through the Rail Safety Infrastructure Improvements Grant 
program, FRA will, pursuant to the authority provided by Congress, 
provide funding assistance to improve the safety of rail 
infrastructure. Specifically, the Rail Safety Infrastructure 
Improvements Grant program can fund safety improvements to railroad 
infrastructure, including the acquisition, improvement, or 
rehabilitation of intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including 
track, bridges, tunnels, rail yards, buildings, passenger stations, and 
maintenance and repair shops. Projects that make improvements to 
highway-rail at-grade crossings, including grade separations and grade 
crossing closures, are also eligible, as are improvements necessary to 
establish a quiet zone. Applicants should note, however, that given the 
statutorily-prescribed selection criteria, FRA will view more favorably 
projects that are primarily intended to improve safety at highway-rail 
grade crossings, yet incorporate infrastructure improvements necessary 
to construct a quiet zone, instead of standalone quiet zone 
infrastructure projects that have minimal impact on railroad safety.

1.2 Program Overview

    This notice contains the requirements and procedures applicants 
must follow to compete for funding under the Railroad Safety 
Infrastructure Improvement Grant program. This notice makes $25,000,000 
in discretionary funding available for safety improvements to railroad 
infrastructure, including the acquisition, improvement, or 
rehabilitation of intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including 
track, bridges, tunnels, yards, buildings, passenger stations, and 
maintenance and repair shops.
    Applicants are encouraged to read the remainder of this NOFO 
carefully for:
    (1) Funding parameters;
    (2) Applicant, project, and project-cost eligibility requirements;
    (3) Application development and submission policies;
    (4) Details regarding FRA's application evaluation and selection 
criteria; and
    (5) Post-award grant administration responsibilities.

1.3 Legislative Authority

    Funding for this notice was made available by the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2016 (Act), Public Law 114-113, division L, title I 
(2015), which directed FRA to award up to $25,000,000 for railroad 
safety grants to carry out 49 U.S.C. 20167, in effect the day before 
the enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 
(division A, title XI of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation 
Act). The Act appropriated $25,000,000 for this grant program, all of 
which is available through this NOFO.

Section 2: Federal Award Information

    The total amount of funding available under this NOFO is 
$25,000,000. FRA anticipates making multiple awards under this Notice. 
However, given the relatively limited amount of funding available for 
award, FRA:
    (1) Encourages applicants to constrain their Federal funding 
request to a maximum of $5,000,000 per project and application. While 
this funding request limit is a recommendation and not a firm 
requirement, applications exceeding the recommended amount must explain 
why additional funding over the recommended amount is

[[Page 25754]]

necessary to implement the proposed project. If additional funding is 
required for a particular project, applicants are advised to subdivide 
higher-cost projects into discrete components that demonstrate 
operational independence and public benefits discrete to that project 
component;
    (2) Strongly encourages applicants to leverage other federal, 
state, local, or private funds to support the proposed project; and
    (3) May not be able to award grants to all eligible applications, 
or even those applications that meet or exceed the stated evaluation 
criteria (see Section 5, Application Review and Selection). However, 
should additional funding become available, FRA may choose to fund 
applications submitted under this NOFO, but not selected in FRA's first 
round of funding.

Section 3: Eligibility Information

    This section of the notice provides the requirements for submitting 
an eligible grant application. Applications that do not meet the 
requirements in this section may be considered ineligible for funding. 
Instructions for conveying eligibility information to FRA are detailed 
in Section 4 of this NOFO.

3.1 Applicant Eligibility

    The following entities are eligible applicants for all project 
types permitted under this notice (see section 3.2, ``Project 
Eligibility''), except a project to establish a quiet zone:
     States;
     Local Governments; and
     Passenger and Freight Railroad Carriers.

Only States and political subdivisions of States are eligible 
applicants for projects to construct the infrastructure necessary to 
establish a quiet zone under 49 CFR part 222. FRA considers traditional 
units of local government such as cities, counties, boroughs, and 
townships to be political subdivisions of a State. However, under 49 
CFR part 222, only public authorities may establish quiet zones. FRA 
recommends that applicants interested in submitting an application for 
a quiet zone infrastructure project, including States, review part 222 
to determine whether they are a public authority. If not, such 
applicants would have to demonstrate to FRA that the public authorities 
with jurisdiction over the grade crossing(s) that is (are) the subject 
of the application intend to establish a quiet zone that would include 
the crossing(s). Finally, FRA prefers but does not require that State 
Departments of Transportation (or similar entities) submit applications 
on behalf of their State.

3.2 Project Eligibility

    This notice solicits applications for a broad range of rail 
projects. Eligible projects are those that will make safety 
improvements to railroad infrastructure and include the acquisition, 
improvement, or rehabilitation of intermodal or rail equipment, or 
facilities. Eligible rail equipment includes track, bridges and 
tunnels, and eligible facilities include yards, buildings, passenger 
stations, and maintenance and repair shops. Projects that construct 
grade separations or make improvements to highway-rail grade crossings 
are eligible, as are projects to construct the infrastructure necessary 
to establish a quiet zone, although FRA will view more favorably quiet 
zone infrastructure projects that are primarily intended to improve 
highway-rail grade crossing safety. The types of costs/activities 
allowed under each project type are discussed in Section 3.3, ``Cost 
Eligibility.'' All applications must clearly demonstrate project need 
and the expected positive impact of the proposed project on rail safety 
using clear supportable data.
    Proposed safety infrastructure projects may include in their 
statement of work pre-construction planning activities, such as 
preliminary engineering and final design, and any costs related to 
environmental and related clearances, including all work necessary for 
FRA to approve the project under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) and related statutes and regulations. FRA will consider 
eligible, however, only those costs related to preliminary work that 
directly supports construction of the project. FRA considers work such 
as planning studies and feasibility studies to be too far removed from 
actual construction and not eligible. In addition, Congress made clear 
in the Act that this program must fund safety improvements Therefore, 
projects funding only pre-construction work, including work that would 
be otherwise eligible as part of a construction project, are not 
eligible.

3.3 Cost Eligibility

    3.3.1. Matching Funds. All Federal funds, including FRA's funding 
contribution to any proposed project under this NOFO, must not exceed a 
50 percent share of the total project cost. FRA will not consider any 
Federal or non-Federal funds already expended (or otherwise encumbered) 
toward the matching requirement. Applicants must identify the source(s) 
of their matching and other leveraged funds, and must clearly and 
distinctly reflect these funds as part of the total project cost in the 
application budget.
    Before submitting an application, applicants should carefully 
review the principles for cost sharing or matching in 2 CFR 200.306.
    3.3.2. Project Costs. A broad range of rail safety infrastructure 
projects are eligible for funding under this NOFO. Eligible projects 
include, but are not limited to, the following:
3.3.2.1 Track and Related Projects
    [cir] Track rehabilitation and repair;
    [cir] Track construction, such as straightening curves or adding 
passing sidings;
    [cir] Bridge rehabilitation and repair;
    [cir] Signal installation, repair or upgrade; \1\
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    \1\ Projects that install Positive Train Control (PTC) 
infrastructure are eligible. Given that Congress also funded a 
separate PTC grant program, however, FRA believes that Congress 
intended that this Safety Grants program focus on safety 
infrastructure improvements other than PTC. For applicants 
interested in funding for PTC projects, FRA recommends those 
applicants apply for FRA's Railroad Safety Technology Grant program, 
which has $25 million available specifically for PTC projects, or 
FTA's Commuter Rail PTC grant program.
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    [cir] Grade crossing installation, repair or rehabilitation, or 
closure;
    [cir] Grade separations; and
    [cir] On electrified rail, installation, replacement or 
rehabilitation of overhead catenary.
3.3.2.2 Rolling Stock/Equipment Projects
    [cir] Rehabilitation of locomotives, passenger cars, or other 
rolling stock; and
    [cir] Acquisition of locomotives, passenger cars, or other rolling 
stock.
3.3.2.3 Railroad/Intermodal Facilities Projects
    [cir] Rehabilitation or repair of tunnels;
    [cir] Construction, rehabilitation or reconfiguration of yards, 
including necessary track work;
    [cir] Construction, rehabilitation or repair of passenger stations, 
including rail-related appurtenances such as platforms and canopies; 
and
    [cir] Construction, rehabilitation or repair of other rail 
facilities, such as maintenance and repair shops.
    The focus of a project must be safety improvements, and not other 
potential benefits, such as increased operational efficiencies or 
economic opportunities. As is discussed in Section 5 Application 
Review, FRA will consider other benefits, but to be eligible under this 
program the primary purpose of a project must be to improve safety. If 
an applicant has questions concerning

[[Page 25755]]

eligibility of a project, FRA urges the applicant to contact FRA before 
the applicant begins preparing the application.
    If a grant awarded under this program will not fully fund the 
project, the applicant must demonstrate to FRA's satisfaction that the 
applicant has, prior to submitting the application, secured all funding 
necessary to complete the project.
    Any grant awarded under the Railroad Safety Infrastructure 
Improvement Grant program will be a reimbursable grant. Unless 
otherwise approved by FRA, grantees must first disburse funds to cover 
eligible costs and then seek reimbursement from FRA.

Section 4: Application and Submission Information

4.1 Submission Dates and Times

    Complete applications must be submitted to Grants.gov no later than 
5:00 p.m. EDT on June 14, 2016. Applications received after 5:00 p.m. 
EDT on June 14, 2016, will not be considered for funding. Accordingly, 
applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early to ensure that all 
materials are received before the application deadline.

4.2 Application Content

    Applicants must include the following documents in the application 
package:
    [cir] SF424 (Application for Federal Assistance);
    [cir] Project Narrative (see 4.2.1);
    [cir] Statement of Work (SOW) (see 4.2.2);
    [cir] FRA's Additional Assurances and Certifications;
    [cir] SF 424C--Budget Information for Construction;
    [cir] SF 424D--Assurances for Construction; and
    [cir] SF LLL: Disclosure of Lobbying Activities.
    Applicants must complete and submit all components of the 
application package to be considered for funding. FRA has established a 
grant opportunity Web page at www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0268, which 
contains application forms and additional application guidance. 
Additional content requirements for the project narrative and SOW can 
be found in Sections 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 below.
    FRA welcomes the submission of other relevant supporting 
documentation the applicant has developed, such as planning, NEPA 
documentation, engineering and design documentation, and letters of 
support. Applications accompanied by completed feasibility studies, 
environmental determinations, and cost estimates may be more favorably 
considered during the application review process because they 
demonstrate that an applicant has a greater understanding of the scope 
and cost of the proposed project. These documents will not count 
against the 25-page limit applied to the project narrative.
    4.2.1 Project Narrative. The following seven numeric points 
describe the minimum content required in the project narrative 
component of a grant application, and the project narrative must adhere 
to the following outline. The project narrative may not exceed 25 pages 
in length (including any supporting tables, maps, or drawings). FRA 
will not accept applications with project narratives exceeding the 25 
page limit. However, the supplementary documents listed in Section 4.2 
will not count against this limit.
    (1) Applicants must include a title page that lists the following 
elements in either a table or formatted list: Project title, location 
(street or address, zip code, city, county, State, district), the 
applicant organization name, and the name of any co-applicants. 
Applicants must provide a brief 4-6 sentence summary of the proposed 
project, capturing the safety challenges the proposed project aims to 
address, the intended outcomes, and anticipated benefits that will 
result from the proposed project.
    (2) Applicants must describe the applicant's eligibility per 
Section 3 of this Notice. Applicants must provide a single point of 
contact for the application, including: Name, title, phone number, 
mailing address, and email address. The point of contact must be an 
employee of the eligible applicant.
    For quiet zone infrastructure projects submitted by an applicant, 
the applicant must establish that it is a political subdivision of a 
State. As described above, FRA considers traditional units of local 
government such as cities, counties, boroughs and townships to be 
political subdivisions. For other entities, information that could 
substantiate eligibility includes enabling legislation stating clearly 
that the applicant is a political subdivision of a State, an Attorney 
General's Opinion from the State explaining that the applicant is a 
political subdivision of the State, or an appellate court judicial 
opinion finding that the applicant is a political subdivision of a 
State. If a potential applicant's eligibility as a political 
subdivision of a State is in question, the applicant should contact 
FRA.
    (3) Applicants must indicate the amount of Federal funding 
requested from FRA under this NOFO and for this project, the proposed 
non-Federal match, any other funding amounts, and total project cost. 
Applicants must identify the Federal and matching funding percentages 
of the total project cost. Applicants must identify source(s) of 
matching funds, the source(s) of any other Federal funds committed to 
the project, and any pending Federal requests. Please note, other 
federal funds may be used to support the project, but may not be 
considered eligible matching funds for funds awarded under this Notice, 
and will be counted as part of the 50 percent limit on Federal funds. 
If applicable, please note whether the requested Federal funding must 
be obligated or expended by a certain date (due to other entities with 
other Federal or non-Federal funding sources, related projects, or 
other factors). Finally, applicants must specify whether Federal 
funding has ever previously been sought for the project and not 
secured, and name the Federal program and fiscal year from which the 
funding was requested.
    (4) Applicants must include a detailed project description that 
expands upon the brief summary required in item number one of the 
project narrative section. This detailed description must provide, at a 
minimum, additional background on: The safety risks and challenges the 
project aims to address; the specific project activities proposed; 
expected outputs and outcomes of the project; and any other information 
the applicant deems necessary to justify the proposed project. In 
describing the project, the application should also clearly explain how 
the proposed project meets the respective project and cost/activity 
eligibility criteria for the type of funding requested as outlined in 
Section 3 of this notice.
    (5) Applicants must include a thorough discussion of how the 
project meets all of the evaluation criteria for the respective project 
type as outlined below in Section 5 of this notice. Applicants should 
note that FRA reviews applications based upon the evaluation criteria 
listed. If an application does not sufficiently address the evaluation 
criteria, it is unlikely to be considered a competitive application. In 
responding to the criteria, applicants are reminded to clearly 
identify, quantify, and compare expected safety benefits and costs of 
proposed projects. FRA understands that the level of detail and 
sophistication of analysis that should be expected for relatively small 
projects (i.e., those encouraged to be limited to under $5,000,000 in 
this

[[Page 25756]]

notice) is less than for larger investments.
    (6) Applicants must describe proposed project implementation and 
project management arrangements. Applicants must include descriptions 
of the expected arrangements for project contracting, contract 
oversight, change-order management, risk management, and conformance to 
Federal requirements for project progress reporting.
    (7) Applicants must describe the anticipated environmental or 
historic preservation impacts associated with the proposed project, any 
environmental or historic preservation analyses that have been 
prepared, and progress toward completing any environmental 
documentation or clearance required for the proposed project under 
NEPA, the National Historic Preservation Act, section 4(f) of the U.S. 
DOT Act, the Clean Water Act, or other applicable Federal or State 
laws. Applicants and grantees under FRA's financial assistance programs 
are encouraged to contact FRA and obtain preliminary direction 
regarding the appropriate NEPA class of action and required 
environmental documentation. Generally, projects will be ineligible to 
receive funding if construction activities began prior to the 
applicant/grantee receiving written approval from FRA that all 
environmental and historical analyses have been completed. Additional 
information regarding FRA's environmental processes and requirements 
are located at www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0183.
    4.2.2 Statement of Work. Applicants are required to submit a SOW 
that addresses the scope, schedule, and budget for the proposed 
project. The SOW should contain sufficient detail so that both FRA and 
the applicant can understand the expected outcomes of the proposed work 
to be performed and monitor progress toward completing project tasks 
and deliverables during a prospective grant's period of performance. 
The FRA has developed a standard SOW template that applicants must use 
to be considered for award. The SOW templates are located at 
www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0325.

4.3 Submission Instructions

    Applicants must submit all application materials through 
Grants.gov. For any required or supporting application materials an 
applicant is unable to submit via Grants.gov (such as oversized 
engineering drawings), an applicant may submit an original and two 
copies to John Winkle, attn.: Mary Ann McNamara, Office of Program 
Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, 
Room No. W38-302, Mail Stop 20, Washington, DC 20590. Applicants are 
advised to use means of rapid conveyance (such as courier service) as 
the application deadline approaches.
    To apply for funding through Grants.gov, applicants must be 
properly registered. Complete instructions on how to register and 
submit an application are at Grants.gov. Registering with Grants.gov is 
a one-time process. However, it can take several weeks for first-time 
registrants to receive confirmation and a user password. FRA recommends 
that applicants start the registration process as early as possible to 
prevent delays that may preclude submitting an application package by 
the application deadline. FRA will not accept applications after the 
due date.
    To apply for funding under this announcement and to apply for 
funding through Grants.gov, all applicants must:
    1. Acquire a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number. A DUNS 
number is required for Grants.gov registration. The Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) requires that all businesses and nonprofit 
applicants for Federal funds include a DUNS number in their 
applications for a new award or renewal of an existing award. A DUNS 
number is a unique nine-digit sequence recognized as the universal 
standard for identifying and keeping track of entities receiving 
Federal funds. The identifier is used for tracking purposes and to 
validate address and point of contact information for Federal 
assistance applicants, recipients, and sub-recipients. The DUNS number 
will be used throughout the grant life cycle. Obtaining a DUNS number 
is a free, one-time activity. Applicants may obtain a DUNS number by 
calling 1-866-705-5711 or by applying online at http://www.dnb.com/us.
    2. Acquire or Renew Registration with the System for Award 
Management (SAM) Database. All applicants for Federal financial 
assistance must maintain current registrations in the SAM database. An 
applicant must be registered in SAM to successfully register in 
Grants.gov. The SAM database is the repository for standard information 
about Federal financial assistance applicants, recipients, and sub 
recipients. Organizations that have previously submitted applications 
via Grants.gov are already registered with SAM, as it is a requirement 
for Grants.gov registration. Please note, however, that applicants must 
update or renew their SAM registration at least once per year to 
maintain an active status. Therefore, it is critical to check 
registration status well in advance of the application deadline. 
Information about SAM registration procedures is available at 
www.sam.gov.
    3. Acquire an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and a 
Grants.gov Username and Password. Applicants must complete an AOR 
profile on Grants.gov and create a username and password. Applicants 
must use the organization's DUNS number to complete this step. 
Additional information about the registration process is available at 
www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp.
    4. Acquire Authorization for your AOR from the E-Business Point of 
Contact (E-Biz POC). The applicant's E-Biz POC must log in to 
Grants.gov to confirm a representative as an AOR. Please note that 
there can be more than one AOR at an organization.
    5. Search for the Funding Opportunity on Grants.gov. The CFDA 
number for this opportunity is 20.301, titled ``Rail Safety Grants.''
    6. Submit an Application Addressing All of the Requirements 
Outlined in this Funding Availability Announcement. After submitting 
the application through Grants.gov, a confirmation screen will appear 
on the applicant's computer screen. This screen will confirm that the 
applicant has submitted an application and provide a tracking number to 
track the status of the submission. Within 24 to 48 hours after 
submitting an electronic application, an applicant should receive an 
email validation message from Grants.gov. The validation message will 
explain whether the application has been received and validated or 
rejected, with an explanation. Applicants are urged to submit an 
application at least 72 hours prior to the due date of the application 
to allow time to receive the validation message and to correct any 
problems that may have caused a rejection notification.
    If an applicant experiences difficulties at any point during this 
process, please call the Grants.gov Customer Center Hotline at 1-800-
518-4726, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (closed on Federal holidays).

    Note: Please use generally accepted formats such as .pdf, .doc, 
.docx, .xls, .xlsx and .ppt, when uploading attachments. While 
applicants may imbed picture files, such as .jpg, .gif, and .bmp, in 
document files, applicants should not submit attachments in these 
formats. Additionally, the following formats will not be accepted: 
.com, .bat, .exe, .vbs, .cfg, .dat, .db, .dbf, .dll, .ini, .log, 
.ora, .sys, and .zip.


[[Page 25757]]



Section 5: Application Review

5.1 Intake and Eligibility

    Following the application deadline, FRA will screen all 
applications for timely submission and completeness. Applications that 
do not meet the requirements detailed in Section 4 of this notice will 
be ineligible for funding consideration.

5.2 Evaluation

    FRA intends to award funds to projects that achieve the maximum 
benefits possible given the amount of funding available. FRA will 
analyze each application for its technical merit and project benefits 
using the factors and sub-criteria below.
(1) Technical Merit \2\
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    \2\ 49 U.S.C. 20167 requires that FRA consider whether the 
railroad carrier has submitted a railroad safety risk reduction 
program, as required by 49 U.S.C. 20156. However, because FRA has 
not promulgated a final rule requiring railroads to develop railroad 
safety risk reduction programs under section 20156, FRA cannot give 
weight to this factor.
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    [cir] The application is thorough and responsive to all of the 
requirements outlined in this Notice.
    [cir] The tasks and subtasks outlined in the SOW are appropriate to 
achieve the expected safety outputs of the proposed project.
    [cir] The proposed costs are realistic and are sufficient to 
accomplish the tasks documented in the SOW.
    [cir] The appropriate partnerships and financing are in place to 
complete the proposed project.
(2) Project Benefits
    [cir] The application contains supportable data to describe the 
safety risk that currently exists if the proposed project is not 
completed. This information should include the age and condition of the 
rail infrastructure to be replaced, improved, or rehabilitated.
    [cir] The applicant describes the expected safety benefit of the 
project, making a reasonable link between that benefit and the proposed 
activities of the project. If applicable, this information should 
include the volume of hazardous materials transported over the 
infrastructure to be replaced, repaired or rehabilitated, and whether 
the infrastructure supports passenger rail operations.
    [cir] The relative impact of the proposed safety improvement (i.e., 
does the safety benefit have a significant impact on a given community 
or rail line).
    [cir] Other potential benefits, such as improved operational 
efficiencies, reduced maintenance costs, and potential increased 
ridership.
    [cir] The safety record of the railroad carrier that owns the 
infrastructure, including accident and incident numbers and rates.
    [cir] Information provided by the applicant that demonstrates the 
merit of investing in the proposed project using a benefit cost 
analysis that is systematic, data driven, and examines the trade-offs 
between project costs and expected safety benefit. Applicants should 
note if other, alternative investments were considered for submission 
under this notice using a similar benefit-cost analysis approach. 
Applicants are strongly encouraged to use Executive Order 12839 
(Principles for Federal Infrastructure Investments, 59 FR 4233), OMB 
Circular A-94 (Guidelines and Discount Rates for Benefit-Cost Analysis 
of Federal Programs), and OMB Circular A-4 (Regulatory Analysis) to 
conduct this analysis.

5.3 Selection

    In addition to the evaluation criteria outlined in Section 5.2 
above, the FRA Administrator may apply any or all of the following 
selection criteria to further ensure the projects selected for funding 
advance FRA and DOT's current mission and key priorities, as well as to 
ensure the projects selected are appropriate to meet national 
transportation safety and rail network objectives.
    (1) Alignment with DOT Strategic Goals and Priorities:
    [cir] Improving transportation safety;
    [cir] Maintaining infrastructure in a state of good repair;
    [cir] Promoting economic competitiveness;
    [cir] Advancing environmentally sustainable transportation 
policies;
    [cir] Furthering the six ``Livability Principles'' DOT developed 
with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the 
Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Partnership for 
Sustainable Communities;
    [cir] Enhancing quality of life; and
    [cir] Building ladders of opportunity to expand the middle class.
    (2) Project Delivery Performance:
    [cir] The applicant's track record in successfully delivering 
previous FRA and DOT grants on time, on budget, and for the full 
intended scope; and
    [cir] The extent to which the proposed project complements previous 
FRA or DOT awards.
    (3) Region/Location:
    [cir] The extent to which the proposed project increases the 
economic productivity of land, capital, or labor at specific locations, 
particularly in economically distressed areas;
    [cir] Ensuring an appropriate level of regional balance across the 
country; and
    [cir] Ensuring consistency with national transportation and rail 
network objectives.
    (4) Innovation/Resource Development:
    [cir] Pursuing new rail technologies that result in a favorable 
public return on investment and that ensure delivery of project 
benefits;
    [cir] Promoting innovations that demonstrate the value of new 
approaches to safety management, as well as contracting and project 
delivery; and
    [cir] Promoting domestic manufacturing, supply, and industrial 
development.
    (5) Partnerships:
    [cir] For projects that span multiple jurisdictions (States or 
local governments), emphasizing those that have organized multi-
jurisdictional partnerships with joint planning and prioritization of 
investments;
    [cir] Strengthening human capital and workforce opportunities, 
particularly for low-income workers or for people in economically 
distressed areas;
    [cir] Employing creative approaches to ensure workforce diversity 
and use of disadvantaged and minority business enterprises, including 
opportunities for small businesses and disadvantaged business 
enterprises, including veteran-owned small businesses and service-
disabled veteran-owned small businesses; and
    [cir] Engaging local communities and other stakeholder groups in 
the project in a way that offers an opportunity for meaningful 
engagement in the process.
    (6) Project Readiness:
    [cir] Applicant progress, if any, in reaching compliance with NEPA 
for the proposed project. It should be noted that NEPA-related work, or 
a NEPA decision (e.g., a Record of Decision, Finding of No Significant 
Impact, Categorical Exclusion determination) is not required to apply 
for funding under this notice;
    [cir] The extent to which a proposed project is consistent with an 
adopted State-wide transportation or rail plan;
    [cir] The level of detail provided in the submitted SOW, including 
whether there is enough information to immediately advance the proposed 
project to award;
    [cir] The level and degree to which the proposed project is 
dependent on other non-FRA financial contributions and the extent to 
which these contributions are secure; and
    [cir] Whether there are engineering materials developed and 
submitted to FRA or materials partially developed that may be available 
to FRA in the near future to assess the proposed project's design and 
constructability risks.

[[Page 25758]]

    (7) Other Potential Funding:
    [cir] Whether the applicant has submitted an application for 
funding under any other rail or transportation infrastructure grant or 
loan program, such as
    1. DOT's TIGER grant program;
    2. DOT's FASTLANE grant program;
    3. FRA's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan 
program; and
    4. The Federal Highway Administration's Transportation 
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program.

5.4 Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System 
(FAPIIS) Review

    FRA, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal 
share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold (see 2 CFR 
200.88, Simplified Acquisition Threshold), will review and consider any 
information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and 
performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 
U.S.C. 2313). An applicant, at its option, may review information in 
the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM 
and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding 
agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity 
and performance system accessible through SAM. FRA will consider any 
comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the 
designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about 
the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of performance 
under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by 
applicants as described in 2 CFR 200.205 (Federal Awarding Agency 
Review of Risk Posed by Applicants).

Section 6: Administration of Federal Grant Awards

    FRA will announce applications selected for funding after the 
application review period. FRA will contact applicants with successful 
applications after the announcement with information and instructions 
about the award process. Notification of a selected application is not 
an authorization to begin proposed project activities. A formal Notice 
of Grant Agreement signed by both the grantee and the FRA and 
containing an approved scope, schedule, and budget, is required before 
the award is considered complete.
    The period of performance for grants awarded under this notice is 
dependent upon the project and will be determined on a grant-by-grant 
basis. FRA will only consider written requests to FRA to extend the 
period of performance with specific and compelling justifications for 
why an extension is required. Any obligated funding not spent by the 
grantee and reimbursed by the FRA upon completion of the grant will be 
de-obligated.
    FRA will make awards for projects selected under this notice 
through cooperative agreements. Cooperative agreements allow for 
substantial Federal involvement in carrying out the agreed upon 
investment, including technical assistance, review of interim work 
products, and increased program oversight under 2 CFR part 200, 
appendix I. The funding provided under these cooperative agreements 
will be made available to grantees on a reimbursable basis. Applicants 
must certify that their expenditures are allowable, allocable, 
reasonable, and necessary to the approved project before seeking 
reimbursement from FRA. Additionally, the grantee must expend matching 
funds at the required percentage alongside Federal funds throughout the 
life of the project.

6.1 Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    Grantees and entities receiving funding from the grantee (sub-
recipients and contractors), must comply with all applicable laws and 
regulations. A non-exclusive list of administrative and national policy 
requirements that grantees must follow includes: 2 CFR part 200; 
procurement standards; compliance with Federal civil rights laws and 
regulations; disadvantaged business enterprises; debarment and 
suspension; drug-free workplace; FRA's and OMB's Assurances and 
Certifications; Americans with Disabilities Act; and labor standards, 
safety oversight, environmental protection, NEPA, environmental 
justice, and Buy American (41 U.S.C. 8302) provisions.

6.2 General Requirements

    The applicant will be required to comply with all standard FRA 
reporting requirements, including quarterly progress reports, quarterly 
Federal financial reports, and interim and final performance reports, 
as well as all applicable auditing, monitoring and close out 
requirements. Reports may be submitted electronically.
    The applicant must comply with all relevant requirements of 2 CFR 
180.335 and 180.350.

Section 7: Federal Awarding Agency Contact

    For further information regarding this Notice and the Railroad 
Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grant program, please contact John 
Winkle, attn.: Mary Ann McNamara, Office of Program Delivery, Federal 
Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room No. W38-302, 
Mail Stop 20, Washington, DC 20590; Email: [email protected]; Phone: 
(202) 493-6067; Fax: (202) 493-6333.

    Authority:  Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, Pub. L. 114-
113, division L, title I (2015).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2016.
Jamie Rennert,
Director, Program Delivery.
[FR Doc. 2016-10077 Filed 4-28-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-06-P