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Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Department of Transportation's Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (INFRA Grants) for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Department of Transportation's Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (INFRA Grants) for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018

Elaine L. Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation
5 July 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 127 (Wednesday, July 5, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 31135-31151]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-14042]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary of Transportation

[Docket No. DOT-OST-2017-0090]


Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Department of 
Transportation's Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects 
(INFRA Grants) for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of 
Transportation.

ACTION: Notice of funding opportunity.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects 
(INFRA) program provides Federal financial assistance to highway and 
freight projects of national or regional significance. This notice 
solicits applications for awards under the program's FY 2017 and FY 
2018 funding, subject to future appropriations.

DATES: Applications must be submitted by 8:00 p.m. EST November 2, 
2017. The Grants.gov ``Apply'' function will open by August 1, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Applications must be submitted through www.Grants.gov. Only 
applicants who comply with all submission requirements described in 
this notice and submit applications through www.Grants.gov will be 
eligible for award.

[[Page 31136]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding this 
notice, please contact the Office of the Secretary via email at 
INFRAgrants@dot.gov. For more information about highway projects, 
please contact Crystal Jones at (202) 366-2976. For more information 
about maritime projects, please contact Robert Bouchard at (202) 366-
5076. For more information about rail projects, please contact 
Stephanie Lawrence at (202) 493-1376. For more information about 
railway-highway grade crossing projects, please contact Karen McClure 
at (202) 493-6417. For all other questions, please contact Paul Baumer 
at (202) 366-1092. A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or 
hard of hearing at 202-366-3993. In addition, up to the application 
deadline, the Department will post answers to common questions and 
requests for clarifications on USDOT's Web site at https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/INFRAgrants.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

A. Program Description
    1. Overview
    2. Key Program Objectives
    3. Program Name
B. Federal Award Information
    1. Amount Available
    2. Restrictions on Award Portfolio
    3. Repeat Applications
C. Eligibility Information
    1. Eligible Applicants
    2. Cost Sharing or Matching
    3. Other
D. Application and Submission Information
    1. Address
    2. Content and Form of Application
    3. Unique entity identifier and System for Award Management 
(SAM)
    4. Submission Dates and Timelines
E. Application Review Information
    1. Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process
    3. Additional Information
F. Federal Award Administration Information
    1. Federal Award Notices
    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
    3. Reporting
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts
H. Other Information
    1. Invitation for Public Comment on the FY 2017-2018 Notice
    2. Protection of Confidential Business Information
    3. Publication of Application Information

A. Program Description

1. Overview

    The INFRA program provides Federal financial assistance to highway 
and freight projects of national or regional significance. To maximize 
the value of FY 2017-2018 INFRA funds for all Americans, the Department 
is focusing the competition on transportation infrastructure projects 
that support four key objectives, each of which is discussed in greater 
detail in section A.2:

    (1) Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional 
level;
    (2) Leveraging Federal funding to attract other, non-Federal 
sources of infrastructure investment, as well as accounting for the 
life-cycle costs of the project;
    (3) Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite 
project delivery; and
    (4) Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and 
achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants.
    This notice's focus on the four key objectives does not compromise 
the Department's position that safety is our top priority. The 
Department is committed to reducing traffic fatalities and serious 
injuries on the surface transportation system. To reinforce the 
Department's safety priority, the USDOT will require projects that 
receive INFRA awards to consider and effectively respond to data-driven 
transportation safety concerns. Section F.2.a describes related 
requirements that the Department will impose on each INFRA project. 
These requirements focus on performing detailed, data-driven safety 
analyses and the incorporating project elements that respond to State-
specific safety priority areas.

2. Key Program Objectives

    This section of the notice describes the four key program 
objectives that the Department intends to advance with FY 2017-2018 
INFRA funds. These four objectives are reflected in later portions of 
the notice, including section E.1, which describes how the Department 
will evaluate applications to advance these objectives, and section 
D.2.b, which describes how applicants should address the four 
objectives in their applications.
a. Key Program Objective #1: Supporting Economic Vitality
    A strong transportation network is absolutely critical to the 
functioning and growth of the American economy. The nation's industry 
depends on the transportation network not only to move the goods that 
it produces, but also to facilitate the movements of the workers who 
are responsible for that production. When the nation's highways, 
railways, and ports function well, that infrastructure connects people 
to jobs, increases the efficiency of delivering goods and thereby cuts 
the costs of doing business, reduces the burden of commuting, and 
improves overall well-being. When the transportation network fails--
whether due to increasing bottlenecks, growing connectivity gaps, or 
unsafe, crumbling conditions--our economy suffers. Projects that 
address congestion in our major urban areas, particularly those that do 
so through the use of congestion pricing or the deployment of advanced 
technology, projects that bridge gaps in service in our rural areas, 
and projects that attract private economic development, all support 
national or regional economic vitality. Therefore, the INFRA program 
seeks these types of infrastructure projects.
b. Key Program Objective #2: Leveraging of Federal Funding
    The Department is committed to supporting the President's call for 
more infrastructure investment. That goal will not be achieved through 
Federal investment alone, but rather requires States, local 
governments, and the private sector to share responsibility and 
accountability, and to maximize their own contributions. The Federal 
government provided about 25%, or about $100 billion of the estimated 
$416 billion of public investment in transportation and water 
infrastructure in 2014,\1\ but more infrastructure investment is 
possible if the significant Federal contribution is a smaller portion 
of a larger total.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/49910-Infrastructure.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To increase the leveraging of Federal funding, the INFRA program 
will give priority consideration to projects that use all available 
non-Federal resources for development, construction, operations, and 
maintenance. (As described further in E.1.a (Criterion #2), the 
Department will also consider the level at which these resources are in 
fact available, particularly for rural areas). These projects include 
projects that maximize State, local, and private sector funding, 
projects that raise revenue directly, projects that benefit from local 
self-help, and projects that pair INFRA grants with broader-scale 
innovative financing, including Federal credit assistance such as 
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and 
Railroad Rehabilitation Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans.
    By emphasizing leveraging of Federal funding, the Department 
expects to expand the total resources being used to build and restore 
infrastructure, rather than have Federal dollars merely

[[Page 31137]]

displace or substitute for State, local, and private funds.
c. Key Program Objective #3: Innovation
    The Department seeks to use the INFRA program to encourage 
innovation in three areas: (1) Environmental review and permitting; (2) 
use of experimental project delivery authorities; and (3) safety and 
technology. The Department anticipates making awards that advance each 
innovation area, but it does not necessarily expect each INFRA project 
to address all three innovation areas. Instead, the Department expects 
applicants to identify the innovation areas that provide benefit to 
their project and propose activities in those areas.
Innovation Area #1: Environmental Review and Permitting
    Some project sponsors indicate that Federal law and regulations 
impose requirements on transportation projects that delay the timely 
delivery of infrastructure. Some claim that the current approach to 
environmental review and permitting can lead to costly delays that are 
not justified by environmental benefits. Others note that excessive 
spending for permitting and studies diverts resources from 
environmental mitigation. Fortunately, recent transportation 
authorizations, including the FAST Act, have introduced a number of 
reforms intended to reduce project timelines and costs without 
compromising the integrity of crucial environmental protections. The 
Department is eager to use the INFRA program to expand and improve upon 
these reforms.
    Under the INFRA program the Department seeks to test new approaches 
to the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure 
projects. This approach has four objectives: (1) Accelerating the 
environmental permitting and review process; (2) improving outcomes for 
communities and the environment; (3) facilitating concurrent and 
consistent environmental permitting and review, analysis and decision 
making across Federal agencies and geographic regions; and (4) 
establishing a shared vision of permitting success among all Federal 
agencies.
    In the current practice, the resource agencies that are responsible 
for environmental review and permitting, including U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental 
Protection Agency, operate independently and collaborate as necessary. 
This independent and distributed operation can frustrate efficient 
project delivery. Under the approach, the Department will aim to 
identify ``liaisons'' within each relevant resource agency. These 
liaisons will work closely and collaboratively with each other, project 
sponsors, and local field offices to steward projects participating in 
the effort through the environmental review process in a timely manner. 
The liaisons will be responsible for making consistent and timely 
permit determinations, while ensuring compliance with the purposes and 
procedures of the environmental permitting and review statutes. They 
will also have easy access to their counterparts throughout the 
Department, including in the Department's operating administrations, 
the Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Center, and the Build America 
Bureau.
    The Department's aim is for liaisons to have active and defined 
roles early in the project development process to define potential 
permitting risks as early as the project scoping and the development of 
alternatives stages. They will coordinate activity to reduce risks, and 
will have specific responsibilities (e.g., dispute resolution) that are 
triggered when a project is at risk for missing a permit deadline. 
Additionally, to ensure consistency across Federal agency 
jurisdictions, liaisons will coordinate permitting activities between 
Agency-specific districts for projects that cross jurisdictional 
boundaries.
    The Department's aim is to achieve timely and consistent 
environmental review and permit decisions. Liaisons' work will be 
tracked on the Federal Infrastructure Project Permitting Dashboard, an 
online tool for tracking the environmental review and authorization 
process for large or complex infrastructure projects.
    Participation in this new approach will not remove any statutory 
requirements affecting project delivery, and INFRA award recipients are 
not required to participate. However, the Department seeks INFRA 
applications for projects that could benefit from this approach, which 
are likely larger, more complex projects, and encourages those 
applicants to indicate whether they are interested in participating. 
Because the Department views this as a potential model for future 
environmental review and permitting, it seeks projects that will allow 
it to evaluate that model.
Innovation Area #2: Special Experimental Authorities
    By statute, all INFRA awards are subject to Federal requirements 
associated with the Federal-aid Highways program under title 23 of the 
United States Code. However, the Department is interested in ensuring 
that those requirements do not unnecessarily impede project delivery. 
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has long encouraged 
increasing private sector participation in the project development, 
finance, design, construction, maintenance, and operations. Since 1990, 
FHWA has experimented with innovative contracting practices under its 
Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14). In 2004, FHWA established 
Special Experimental Project No. 15 (SEP-15), which encouraged tests 
and experimentation throughout the entire project development process. 
SEP-15 was specifically aimed at attracting private investment, leading 
to increased project management flexibility, more innovation, improved 
efficiency, timely project implementation, and new revenue streams. 
Under SEP-14 and SEP-15, FHWA may waive statutory and regulatory 
requirements under title 23 on a project-by-project basis to explore 
innovative processes that could be adopted through legislation. This 
experimental authority is available to test changes that would improve 
the efficiency of project delivery in a manner that is consistent with 
the purposes underlying existing requirements; it is not available to 
frustrate the purposes of existing requirements.
    The Department encourages applicants for INFRA funding to consider 
whether their project is eligible for and would benefit from an 
experimental authority or waiver under SEP-14, SEP-15, or some other 
experimental authority program. For appropriate projects, applicants 
should propose to use experimental authority and describe their 
expected benefits. In particular, the Department is interested in 
proposals that will substantially accelerate the pace of project 
deployment.
    The Department is not replacing the application processes for SEP-
14, SEP-15, or other experimental programs, with this notice or the 
INFRA program application. Instead, it seeks detailed expressions of 
interest in those programs. If selected for an INFRA award, the 
applicant would need to satisfy the relevant programs' requirements and 
complete the appropriate application processes. Selection for an INFRA 
award does not mean a project's SEP-14 or SEP-15 proposal has been 
approved. The Department will make a separate determination in 
accordance with those programs' processes on the appropriateness of a 
waiver.

[[Page 31138]]

Innovation Area #3: Safety and Technology
    In addition to these cross-cutting safety-related requirements 
previously mentioned (and detailed in section F.2.a of this Notice), 
USDOT seeks opportunities under the INFRA program to experiment with 
innovative approaches to transportation safety, particularly projects 
which incorporate innovative design solutions, enhance the environment 
for automated vehicles, or use technology to improve the detection, 
mitigation, and documentation of safety risks. Illustrative examples 
include:

     Innovative designs that inherently reduce safety risk;
     Conflict detection and mitigation technologies for freight 
and non-freight interaction (e.g., intersection alerts and signal 
prioritization);
     Dynamic signaling or pricing systems to reduce congestion;
     Connected vehicle technology, including systems for 
vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications;
     Signage and design features that facilitate autonomous 
technologies;
     Applications to automatically capture and report safety-
related issues (e.g., identifying and documenting near-miss incidents); 
and
     Cybersecurity elements to protect safety-critical systems.

d. Key Program Objective #4: Performance and Accountability

    To maximize public benefits from INFRA funds and promote local 
activity that will provide benefits beyond the INFRA-funded projects, 
the Department seeks projects that allow it to condition funding on 
specific, measurable outcomes. For appropriate projects, the Department 
may use one or more of the following types of events to trigger 
availability of some or all INFRA funds: (1) Reaching project delivery 
milestones in a timely manner; (2) making specific State or local 
policy changes that advance desirable transportation outcomes; and (3) 
achieving transportation performance objectives that support economic 
vitality or improve safety.
    Each of these three types of events encourages accountability from 
project sponsors. First, project milestones can make a project sponsor 
accountable for timely project delivery. For example, to ensure that 
planning activities will not delay construction, the Department may 
condition construction funds on the sponsor completing those planning 
activities by a specific date. Second, INFRA funds can provide an 
additional incentive to make specific policy changes. For example, in 
some jurisdictions, administrative barriers to public-private 
partnerships prevent project sponsors from using an effective and 
proven method of project delivery. In such jurisdictions, the 
Department can help dismantle those barriers by conditioning INFRA 
funds on local policy changes. Finally, the Department can improve 
overall performance of the transportation system by tying funding to 
specific performance targets. For example, if an INFRA project is 
awarded to improve freight movement through a corridor, the Department 
may condition some of the INFRA funds to be used to improve one 
interchange in the corridor on the project sponsor's ability to 
demonstrate satisfactory levels of service at other points in the 
corridor. Improvements at those other points on the corridor to reach 
the target level of service could be made with other, non-conditioned 
INFRA funds or with non-Federal funds.
    These examples are illustrative, but the Department encourages 
applicants to identify other, creative ways to condition funding to 
advance INFRA program goals. The Department does not intend to impose 
these conditions on unwilling or uninterested INFRA recipients, nor 
does it intend to limit the types of projects that should consider 
accountability mechanisms. Instead, the Department encourages 
applicants to voluntarily identify measures through which the 
Department may hold them accountable, describe, in their application, 
how the Department could structure any conditions on funding, and 
detail how the structure advances INFRA program goals. As described in 
section E.1, an applicant-directed approach to accountability will 
allow the Department to differentiate among INFRA applications.

3. Program Name

    The INFRA grant program is authorized as the Nationally Significant 
Freight and Highway Projects program at 23 U.S.C. 117. The Department 
formerly referred to INFRA grants as Fostering Advancements in Shipping 
and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National 
Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grants. The Department has renamed the program 
Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA), to call attention to new 
priorities: Rebuilding and revitalizing our economy through 
infrastructure investment.

B. Federal Award Information

1. Amount Available

    The FAST Act authorizes the INFRA program at $4.5 billion for 
fiscal years (FY) 2016 through 2020, including $850 million \2\ for FY 
2017 and $900 million for FY 2018, to be awarded by USDOT on a 
competitive basis to projects of national or regional significance that 
meet statutory requirements. This notice solicits applications for up 
to $1.56 billion in FY 2017-2018 INFRA funds. Approximately $710 
million of FY 2017 funds are available for INFRA awards.\3\ The 
Department anticipates that approximately $810-855 million of FY 2018 
funds will be available for awards, but that total is uncertain because 
the Department is issuing this notice before appropriations legislation 
has been enacted for FY 2018. The estimate may be higher or lower than 
the final amount, which is dependent on future appropriations 
legislation. Any award under this notice will be subject to the 
availability of funds.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Funds are subject to the overall Federal-aid highway 
obligation limitation, and funds in excess of the obligation 
limitation provided to the program are distributed to the States. 
While $850 million is authorized for FY 2017, $788.8 million is 
available for award. For additional information see FAST Act Sec.  
1102(f) and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and 
Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016, Pub. L. 114-113, div. L 
Sec.  120.
    \3\ The Department intends to award the 10 percent of the FY 
2017 funding reserved for small projects to applications received 
under the Notice published in November, 2016. $709.92 million of FY 
2017 funds is available under the terms of this Notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Restrictions on Award Portfolio

    The Department will make awards under the INFRA program to both 
large and small projects. (Refer to section C.3.ii.for a definition of 
large and small projects.) For a large project, the FAST Act specifies 
that an INFRA grant must be at least $25 million. For a small project, 
including both construction awards and project development awards, the 
grant must be at least $5 million. For each fiscal year of INFRA funds, 
10 percent of available funds are reserved for small projects, and 90 
percent of funds are reserved for large projects. The Department 
intends to use 10 percent of the available FY 2017 funding to make 
small project selections under the Notice of Funding Opportunity 
published in November of 2016. The FY 2017 funds made available under 
this notice are for large projects. The anticipated FY 2018 funds will 
be for both large and small projects.\4\ In summary, the estimated 
funding available for FY 2017 and FY 2018 under this notice is 
approximately

[[Page 31139]]

$81 million-$85.5 million for small projects and $1.44 billion-$1.48 
billion for large projects.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Subject to availability of FY 2018 funding.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FAST Act specifies that not more than $500 million in aggregate 
of the $4.5 billion authorized for INFRA grants over fiscal years 2016 
to 2020 may be used for grants to freight rail, water (including 
ports), or other freight intermodal projects that make significant 
improvements to freight movement on the National Highway Freight 
Network. After accounting for FY 2016 and previous FY 2017 INFRA 
selections, approximately $326 million within this constraint remains 
available. Only the non-highway portion(s) of multimodal projects count 
toward the $500 million maximum. Grade crossing and grade separation 
projects do not count toward the $500 million maximum for freight rail, 
port, and intermodal projects.
    The FAST Act directs that at least 25 percent of the funds provided 
for INFRA grants must be used for projects located in rural areas, as 
defined in Section C.3.iv. The Department may elect to go above that 
threshold if the appropriate projects are submitted. The USDOT must 
consider geographic diversity among grant recipients, including the 
need for a balance in addressing the needs of urban and rural areas.

3. Repeat Applications

    The selection criteria described in Section E. of this Notice 
changed substantially from previous INFRA solicitations. Applicants who 
elect to resubmit an application from a previous solicitation should 
include a supplementary appendix which describes how their project 
aligns with the new selection criteria.

C. Eligibility Information

    To be selected for an INFRA grant, an applicant must be an Eligible 
Applicant and the project must be an Eligible Project that meets the 
Minimum Project Size Requirement.

1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants for INFRA grants are: (1) A State or group of 
States; (2) a metropolitan planning organization that serves an 
Urbanized Area (as defined by the Bureau of the Census) with a 
population of more than 200,000 individuals; (3) a unit of local 
government or group of local governments; (4) a political subdivision 
of a State or local government; (5) a special purpose district or 
public authority with a transportation function, including a port 
authority; (6) a Federal land management agency that applies jointly 
with a State or group of States; (7) a tribal government or a 
consortium of tribal governments; or (8) a multi-State or 
multijurisdictional group of public entities.
    Multiple States or jurisdictions that submit a joint application 
should identify a lead applicant as the primary point of contact. Joint 
applications should include a description of the roles and 
responsibilities of each applicant and should be signed by each 
applicant. The applicant that will be responsible for financial 
administration of the project must be an eligible applicant.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    This section describes the statutory cost share requirements for an 
INFRA award. Cost share will also be evaluated according to the 
``Leveraging of Federal Funding'' evaluation criterion described in 
Section E.1.a.ii. That section clarifies that the Department seeks 
applications for projects that exceed the minimum non-Federal cost 
share requirement described here.
    INFRA grants may be used for up to 60 percent of future eligible 
project costs. Other Federal assistance may satisfy the non-Federal 
share requirement for an INFRA grant, but total Federal assistance for 
a project receiving an INFRA grant may not exceed 80 percent of the 
future eligible project costs. Non-Federal sources include State funds 
originating from programs funded by State revenue, local funds 
originating from State or local revenue-funded programs, private funds 
or other funding sources of non-Federal origins. If a Federal land 
management agency applies jointly with a State or group of States, and 
that agency carries out the project, then Federal funds that were not 
made available under titles 23 or 49 of the United States Code may be 
used for the non-Federal share. Unless otherwise authorized by statute, 
local cost-share may not be counted as non-Federal share for both the 
INFRA and another Federal program. For any project, the Department 
cannot consider previously-incurred costs or previously-expended or 
encumbered funds towards the matching requirement. Matching funds are 
subject to the same Federal requirements described in Section F.2.b as 
awarded funds.
    For the purpose of evaluating eligibility under the statutory cost 
share requirements, funds from the TIFIA and RRIF credit assistance 
programs are considered Federal assistance and, combined with other 
Federal assistance, may not exceed 80 percent of the future eligible 
project costs.

3. Other

a. Eligible Project
    Eligible projects for INFRA grants are: Highway freight projects 
carried out on the National Highway Freight Network (23 U.S.C. 167); 
highway or bridge projects carried out on the National Highway System 
(NHS), including projects that add capacity on the Interstate System to 
improve mobility or projects in a national scenic area; railway-highway 
grade crossing or grade separation projects; or a freight project that 
is (1) an intermodal or rail project, or (2) within the boundaries of a 
public or private freight rail, water (including ports), or intermodal 
facility. A project within the boundaries of a freight rail, water 
(including ports), or intermodal facility must be a surface 
transportation infrastructure project necessary to facilitate direct 
intermodal interchange, transfer, or access into or out of the facility 
and must significantly improve freight movement on the National Highway 
Freight Network. Improving freight movement on the National Highway 
Freight Network may include shifting freight transportation to other 
modes, thereby reducing congestion and bottlenecks on the National 
Highway Freight Network. For a freight project within the boundaries of 
a freight rail, water (including ports), or intermodal facility, 
Federal funds can only support project elements that provide public 
benefits.
b. Eligible Project Costs
    INFRA grants may be used for the construction, reconstruction, 
rehabilitation, acquisition of property (including land related to the 
project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, 
construction contingencies, equipment acquisition, and operational 
improvements directly related to system performance. Statutorily, INFRA 
grants may also fund development phase activities, including planning, 
feasibility analysis, revenue forecasting, environmental review, 
preliminary engineering, design, and other preconstruction activities, 
provided the project meets statutory requirements. However, the 
Department is seeking to use INFRA funding on projects that result in 
construction. Public-private partnership assessments for projects in 
the development phase are also eligible costs.
    INFRA grant recipients may use INFRA funds to pay the subsidy and 
administrative costs necessary to receive TIFIA.

[[Page 31140]]

c. Minimum Project Size Requirement
    For the purposes of determining whether a project meets the minimum 
project size requirement, the Department will count all future eligible 
project costs under the award and some related costs incurred before 
selection for an INFRA grant. Previously-incurred costs will be counted 
toward the minimum project size requirement only if they were eligible 
project costs under Section C.3.b. and were expended as part of the 
project for which the applicant seeks funds. Although those previously-
incurred costs may be used for meeting the minimum project size 
thresholds described in this Section, they cannot be reimbursed with 
INFRA grant funds, nor will they count toward the project's required 
non-Federal share.
i. Large Projects
    The minimum project size for large projects is the lesser of $100 
million; 30 percent of a State's FY 2016 Federal-aid apportionment if 
the project is located in one State; or 50 percent of the larger 
participating State's FY 2016 apportionment for projects located in 
more than one State. The following chart identifies the minimum total 
project cost for projects for FY 2017 for both single and multi-State 
projects.

 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          FY17 NSFHP (50%                       FY18 NSFHP (50%
                                       FY17 NSFHP (30%        of FY16        FY18 NSFHP (30%        of FY17
                                           of FY16         apportionment)        of FY17         apportionment)
                State                   apportionment)      Multi-State       apportionment)      Multi-State
                                      One-State minimum      minimum *      One-State minimum      minimum *
                                          (millions)         (millions)         (millions)         (millions)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alabama.............................               $100               $100               $100               $100
Alaska..............................                100                100                100                100
Arizona.............................                100                100                100                100
Arkansas............................                100                100                100                100
California..........................                100                100                100                100
Colorado............................                100                100                100                100
Connecticut.........................                100                100                100                100
Delaware............................                 51                 86                 52                 87
Dist. of Col........................                 49                 81                 49                 82
Florida.............................                100                100                100                100
Georgia.............................                100                100                100                100
Hawaii..............................                 51                 86                 52                 87
Idaho...............................                 87                100                 88                100
Illinois............................                100                100                100                100
Indiana.............................                100                100                100                100
Iowa................................                100                100                100                100
Kansas..............................                100                100                100                100
Kentucky............................                100                100                100                100
Louisiana...........................                100                100                100                100
Maine...............................                 56                 94                 57                 95
Maryland............................                100                100                100                100
Massachusetts.......................                100                100                100                100
Michigan............................                100                100                100                100
Minnesota...........................                100                100                100                100
Mississippi.........................                100                100                100                100
Missouri............................                100                100                100                100
Montana.............................                100                100                100                100
Nebraska............................                 88                100                 89                100
Nevada..............................                100                100                100                100
New Hampshire.......................                 50                 84                 51                 85
New Jersey..........................                100                100                100                100
New Mexico..........................                100                100                100                100
New York............................                100                100                100                100
North Carolina......................                100                100                100                100
North Dakota........................                 76                100                 77                100
Ohio................................                100                100                100                100
Oklahoma............................                100                100                100                100
Oregon..............................                100                100                100                100
Pennsylvania........................                100                100                100                100
Puerto Rico.........................                 44                 74                 44                 74
Rhode Island........................                 67                100                 67                100
South Carolina......................                100                100                100                100
South Dakota........................                 86                100                 87                100
Tennessee...........................                100                100                100                100
Texas...............................                100                100                100                100
Utah................................                100                100                100                100
Vermont.............................                 62                100                 63                100
Virginia............................                100                100                100                100
Washington..........................                100                100                100                100
West Virginia.......................                100                100                100                100
Wisconsin...........................                100                100                100                100
Wyoming.............................                 78                100                 79                100
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* For multi-State projects, the minimum project size is the largest of the multi-State minimums from the
  participating States.


[[Page 31141]]

ii. Small Projects
    A small project is an eligible project that does not meet the 
minimum project size described in Section C.3.c.i.
d. Large/Small Project Requirements
    For a large project to be selected, the Department must determine 
that the project generates national or regional economic, mobility, or 
safety benefits; is cost-effective; contributes to one or more of the 
goals described in 23 U.S.C 150; is based on the results of preliminary 
engineering; has one or more stable and dependable funding or financing 
sources available to construct, maintain, and operate the project, and 
contingency amounts are available to cover unanticipated cost 
increases; cannot be easily and efficiently completed without other 
Federal funding or financial assistance; and is reasonably expected to 
begin construction no later than 18 months after the date of 
obligation. These requirements are discussed in greater detail in 
section D.2.b.vii.
    For a small project to be selected, the Department must consider 
the cost-effectiveness of the proposed project and the effect of the 
proposed project on mobility in the State and region in which the 
project is carried out.
e. Rural/Urban Area
    This section describes the statutory definition of urban and rural 
areas and the minimum statutory requirements for projects that meet 
those definitions. For more information on how the Department consider 
projects in urban, rural, and low population areas as part of the 
selection process, see Section E.1.a. Criterion #2, and E.1.c.
    The INFRA statute defines a rural area as an area outside an 
Urbanized Area \5\ with a population of over 200,000. In this notice, 
urban area is defined as inside an Urbanized Area, as designated by the 
U.S. Census Bureau, with a population of 200,000 or more.\6\ Rural and 
urban definitions differ in some other USDOT programs, including TIFIA 
and the FY 2016 TIGER Discretionary Grants program. Cost share 
requirements and minimum grant awards are the same for projects located 
in rural and urban areas. The Department will consider a project to be 
in a rural area if the majority of the project (determined by 
geographic location(s) where the majority of the money is to be spent) 
is located in a rural area. However, if a project consists of multiple 
components, as described under section C.3.f or C.3.g., then for each 
separate component the Department will determine whether that component 
is rural or urban. In some circumstances, including networks of 
projects under section C.3.g that cover wide geographic regions, this 
component-by-component determination may result in INFRA awards that 
include urban and rural funds.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ For Census 2010, the Census Bureau defined an Urbanized Area 
(UA) as an area that consists of densely settled territory that 
contains 50,000 or more people. Updated lists of UAs are available 
on the Census Bureau Web site at http://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/dc10map/UAUC_RefMap/ua/. For the purposes of the INFRA program, 
Urbanized Areas with populations fewer than 200,000 will be 
considered rural.
    \6\ See www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/InFRAgrants for a 
list of Urbanized Areas with a population of 200,000 or more.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

f. Project Components
    An application may describe a project that contains more than one 
component. The USDOT may award funds for a component, instead of the 
larger project, if that component (1) independently meets minimum award 
amounts described in Section B and all eligibility requirements 
described in Section C, including the requirements for large projects 
described in sections C.3.d and D.2.b.vii; (2) independently aligns 
well with the selection criteria specified in Section E; and (3) meets 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements with respect to 
independent utility. Independent utility means that the component will 
represent a transportation improvement that is usable and represents a 
reasonable expenditure of USDOT funds even if no other improvements are 
made in the area, and will be ready for intended use upon completion of 
that component's construction. If an application describes multiple 
components, the application should demonstrate how the components 
collectively advance the purposes of the INFRA program. An applicant 
should not add multiple components to a single application merely to 
aggregate costs or avoid submitting multiple applications.
    Applicants should be aware that, depending upon applicable Federal 
law and the relationship among project components, an award funding 
only some project components may make other project components subject 
to Federal requirements as described in Section F.2.b. For example, 
under 40 CFR 1508.25, the NEPA review for the funded project component 
may need to include evaluation of all project components as connected, 
similar, or cumulative actions.
    The Department strongly encourages applicants to identify in their 
applications the project components that meet independent utility 
standards and separately detail the costs and INFRA funding requested 
for each component. If the application identifies one or more 
independent project components, the application should clearly identify 
how each independent component addresses selection criteria and 
produces benefits on its own, in addition to describing how the full 
proposal of which the independent component is a part addresses 
selection criteria.
g. Network of Projects
    An application may describe and request funding for a network of 
projects. A network of projects is one INFRA award that consists of 
multiple projects addressing the same transportation problem. For 
example, if an applicant seeks to improve efficiency along a rail 
corridor, then their application might propose one award for four grade 
separation projects at four different railway-highway crossings. Each 
of the four projects would independently reduce congestion but the 
overall benefits would be greater if the projects were completed 
together under a single award.
    The USDOT will evaluate applications that describe networks of 
projects similar to how it evaluates projects with multiple components. 
Because of their similarities, the guidance in section C.3.f is 
applicable to networks of projects, and applicants should follow that 
guidance on how to present information in their application. As with 
project components, depending upon applicable Federal law and the 
relationship among projects within a network of projects, an award that 
funds only some projects in a network may make other projects subject 
to Federal requirements as described in Section F.2.
h. Application Limit
    To encourage applicants to prioritize their INFRA submissions, each 
eligible applicant may submit no more than three applications. The 
three-application limit applies only to applications where the 
applicant is the lead applicant. There is no limit on applications for 
which an applicant can be listed as a partnering agency. If a lead 
applicant submits more than three applications as the lead applicant, 
only the first three received will be considered.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address

    Applications must be submitted through www.Grants.gov. Instructions

[[Page 31142]]

for submitting applications can be found at https://
www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/InFRAgrants.

2. Content and Form of Application

    The application must include the Standard Form 424 (Application for 
Federal Assistance), Standard Form 424C (Budget Information for 
Construction Programs), cover page, and the Project Narrative. More 
detailed information about the cover pages and Project Narrative 
follows.
a. Cover Page
    Each application should contain a cover page with the following 
chart:

 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Project name
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Was an INFRA application for this project submitted previously?............  Yes/no.
If yes, what was the name of the project in the previous application?
Previously Incurred Project Cost...........................................  $.
Future Eligible Project Cost...............................................  $.
Total Project Cost (This should be the sum of the previous two rows).......  $.
INFRA Request..............................................................  $.
Total Federal Funding (including INFRA)....................................  $.
Are matching funds restricted to a specific project component? If so, which  Yes/no.
 one?.
Is the project or a portion of the project currently located on National     Yes/no.
 Highway Freight Network?.
Is the project or a portion of the project located on the NHS?.............  Yes/no (for each question).
 Does the project add capacity to the Interstate system?...........
 Is the project in a national scenic area?.........................
Do the project components include a railway-highway grade crossing or grade  Yes/no.
 separation project?.
 If so, please include the grade crossing ID.......................
Do the project components include an intermodal or freight rail project, or  Yes/no.
 freight project within the boundaries of a public or private freight rail,
 water (including ports), or intermodal facility?.
If answered yes to either of the two component questions above, how much of
 requested INFRA funds will be spent on each of these projects components?
State(s) in which project is located.
Small or large project.....................................................  Small/Large.
Urbanized Area in which project is located, if applicable.
Population of Urbanized Area.
Is the project currently programmed in the:................................  Yes/no (please specify in which
 TIP...............................................................   plans the project is currently
 STIP..............................................................   programmed).
 MPO Long Range Transportation Plan................................
 State Long Range Transportation Plan..............................
 State Freight Plan?...............................................
If selected, would you be interested in participating in a new               Yes/No.
 environmental review and permitting approach?.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. Project Narrative for Construction Projects
    The Department recommends that the project narrative follow the 
basic outline below to address the program requirements and assist 
evaluators in locating relevant information.

 
 
 
I. Project Description....................  See D.2.b.i.
II. Project Location......................  See D.2.b.ii.
III. Project Parties......................  See D.2.b.iii.
IV. Grant Funds, Sources and Uses of all    See D.2.b.iv.
 Project Funding.
V. Merit Criteria.........................  See D.2.b.v.
VI. Project Readiness.....................  See D.2.b.vi and E.1.c.ii.
VII. Large/Small Project Requirements.....  See D.2.b.vii.
 

    The project narrative should include the information necessary for 
the Department to determine that the project satisfies project 
requirements described in Sections B and C and to assess the selection 
criteria specified in Section E.1. To the extent practicable, 
applicants should provide supporting data and documentation in a form 
that is directly verifiable by the Department. The Department may ask 
any applicant to supplement data in its application, but expects 
applications to be complete upon submission.
    In addition to a detailed statement of work, detailed project 
schedule, and detailed project budget, the project narrative should 
include a table of contents, maps, and graphics, as appropriate to make 
the information easier to review. The Department recommends that the 
project narrative be prepared with standard formatting preferences. 
(i.e., a single-spaced document, using a standard 12-point font such as 
Times New Roman, with 1-inch margins.) The project narrative may not 
exceed 25 pages in length, excluding cover pages and table of contents. 
The only substantive portions that may exceed the 25-page limit are 
documents supporting assertions or conclusions made in the 25-page 
project narrative. If possible, Web site links to supporting 
documentation should be provided rather than copies of these supporting 
materials. If supporting documents are submitted, applicants should 
clearly identify within the project narrative the relevant portion of 
the project narrative that each supporting document supports. At the 
applicant's discretion, relevant materials provided previously to a 
modal administration in support of a different USDOT financial 
assistance program may be referenced and described as unchanged. The 
Department recommends using appropriately descriptive final names 
(e.g., ``Project Narrative,'' ``Maps,'' ``Memoranda of Understanding 
and Letters of Support,'' etc.) for all attachments. The USDOT 
recommends applications include the following sections:
i. Project Summary
    The first section of the application should provide a concise 
description of the project, the transportation challenges that it is 
intended to address, and how it will address those challenges. This 
section should discuss the project's history, including a

[[Page 31143]]

description of any previously incurred costs. The applicant may use 
this section to place the project into a broader context of other 
infrastructure investments being pursued by the project sponsor.
ii. Project Location
    This section of the application should describe the project 
location, including a detailed geographical description of the proposed 
project, a map of the project's location and connections to existing 
transportation infrastructure, and geospatial data describing the 
project location. If the project is located within the boundary of a 
Census-designated Urbanized Area, the application should identify the 
Urbanized Area.
iii. Project Parties
    This section of the application should list all project parties, 
including details about the proposed grant recipient and other public 
and private parties who are involved in delivering the project, such as 
port authorities, terminal operators, freight railroads, shippers, 
carriers, freight-related associations, third-party logistics 
providers, and freight industry workforce organizations.
iv. Grant Funds, Sources and Uses of Project Funds
    This section of the application should describe the project's 
budget. At a minimum, it should include:

    (A) Previously-incurred expenses, as defined in Section C.3.c.
    (B) Future eligible costs, as defined in Section C.3.c.
    (C) For all funds to be used for future eligible project costs, the 
source and amount of those funds.
    (D) For non-Federal funds to be used for future eligible project 
costs, documentation of funding commitments should be referenced here 
and included as an appendix to the application.
    (E) For Federal funds to be used for future eligible project costs, 
the amount, nature, and source of any required non-Federal match for 
those funds.
    (F) A budget showing how each source of funds will be spent. The 
budget should show how each funding source will share in each major 
construction activity, and present that data in dollars and 
percentages. Funding sources should be grouped into three categories: 
Non-Federal; INFRA; and other Federal. If the project contains 
components, the budget should separate the costs of each project 
component. If the project will be completed in phases, the budget 
should separate the costs of each phase. The budget should be detailed 
enough to demonstrate that the project satisfies the statutory cost-
sharing requirements described in Section C.2.
    (G) Information showing that the applicant has budgeted sufficient 
contingency amounts to cover unanticipated cost increases.
    (H) The amount of the requested INFRA funds that would be subject 
to the $500 million maximum described in Section B.2.
    In addition to the information enumerated above, this section 
should provide complete information on how all project funds may be 
used. For example, if a particular source of funds is available only 
after a condition is satisfied, the application should identify that 
condition and describe the applicant's control over whether it is 
satisfied. Similarly, if a particular source of funds is available for 
expenditure only during a fixed time period, the application should 
describe that restriction. Complete information about project funds 
will ensure that the Department's expectations for award execution 
align with any funding restrictions unrelated to the Department, even 
if an award differs from the applicant's request.
v. Merit Criteria
    This section of the application should demonstrate how the project 
aligns with the Merit Criteria described in section E.1 of this notice. 
The Department encourages applicants to address each criterion or 
expressly state that the project does not address the criterion. 
Applicants are not required to follow a specific format, but the 
following organization, which addresses each criterion separately, 
promotes a clear discussion that assists project evaluators. To 
minimize redundant information in the application, the Department 
encourages applicants to cross-reference from this section of their 
application to relevant substantive information in other sections of 
the application.
    The guidance here is about how the applicant should organize their 
application. Guidance describing how the Department will evaluate 
projects against the Merit Criteria is in section E.1 of this notice. 
Applicants also should review that section before considering how to 
organize their application.
Criterion #1: Support for National or Regional Economic Vitality
    This section of the application should describe the anticipated 
outcomes of the project that support the Economic Vitality criterion 
(described in Section E.1.a of this notice). The applicant should 
summarize the conclusions of the project's benefit-cost analysis, 
including estimates of the project's benefit-cost ratio and net 
benefits. The applicant should also describe economic impacts and other 
data-supported benefits that are not included in the benefit-cost 
analysis.
    The benefit-cost analysis itself should be provided as an appendix 
to the project narrative, as described in D.2.d. of this Notice.
Criterion #2: Leveraging of Federal Funding
    This section of the application should include information that, 
when considered with the project budget information presented elsewhere 
in the application, is sufficient for the Department to evaluate how 
the project addresses the Leverage criterion, including:
    (A) A description of the applicant's activities to maximize the 
non-Federal share of the project funding;
    (B) a description of all evaluations of the project for private 
funding, the outcome of those evaluations, and all activities 
undertaken to pursue private funding for the project;
    (C) a description of any fiscal constraints that affect the 
applicant's ability to use non-Federal contributions; and
    (D) a description of the non-Federal share across the applicant's 
transportation program, if the applicant is a regular recipient of 
federal transportation funding; and
    (E) a description of the applicant's plan to address the full life-
cycle costs associated with the project, including a description of 
operations and maintenance funding commitments made by the applicant.
Criterion #3: Potential for Innovation
    This section of the application should contain sufficient 
information to evaluate how the project includes or enables innovation 
in: (1) Environmental review and permitting; (2) use of experimental 
project delivery authorities; and (3) safety and technology. If the 
project does not address a particular innovation area, the application 
should state this fact.
    If an applicant is proposing to participate in the environmental 
review and permitting approach described in section A.2.c, the 
application should describe how the project would benefit from 
participation, identify significant anticipated permitting challenges, 
and identify coordination that might be necessary to complete the 
environmental and permitting review process.

[[Page 31144]]

    If an applicant is proposing to use SEP-14, SEP-15, or some other 
experimental authority program, the applicant should describe that 
proposal and their expected benefits. The applicant should also provide 
sufficient information for evaluators to confirm that the applicant's 
proposal would meet the requirements of the specific experimental 
authority program.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ SEP-14 information is available at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/contracts/sep_a.cfm. SEP-15 information is available at 
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/p3/tools_programs/sep15_procedures.aspx.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If an applicant is proposing to adopt innovative safety approaches 
or technology, the application should demonstrate the applicant's 
capacity to implement those innovations, the applicant's understanding 
of whether the innovations will require extraordinary permitting, 
approvals, or other procedural actions, and the effects of those 
innovations on the project delivery timeline.
Criterion #4: Performance and Accountability
    This section of the application should include sufficient 
information to evaluate how the applicant will advance the Performance 
and Accountability program objective. In general, the applicant should 
describe mechanisms that will allow the Department to hold it 
accountable for advancing INFRA program goals. Additional details for 
three approaches are provided in the following paragraphs, but these 
examples are not exhaustive. As described in greater detail in section 
A.2.d, the Department encourages applicants to identify other creative 
ways to condition funding to advance INFRA program goals and describe 
those mechanisms in this section of the application.
    If the applicant is proposing to condition funding availability on 
timely completion of project milestones, the applicant should identify 
specific milestone events, provide target dates for those milestones, 
and propose a relationship between some or all of the requested INFRA 
funding and the milestones.
    If the applicant is proposing to adopt a specific policy change, 
the applicant should provide sufficient information for evaluators to 
understand the existing policy, how changing the policy would advance 
the Department's goals, and how feasible the change will be for the 
applicant to complete within the project's delivery timeframe. The 
applicant should propose a relationship between some or all of the 
requested INFRA funding and its completion of the change.
    If the applicant is proposing to condition funding availability on 
reaching specific performance targets, the applicant should detail 
those performance targets in detail, describe the feasibility of 
tracking and achieving the target within the project's delivery 
timeframe, and propose a relationship between some or all of the 
requested INFRA funding and the performance objective.
vi. Project Readiness
    This section of the application should include information that, 
when considered with the project budget information presented elsewhere 
in the application, is sufficient for the Department to evaluate 
whether the project is reasonably expected to begin construction in a 
timely manner. To assist the Department's project readiness assessment, 
the applicant should provide the information requested on technical 
feasibility, project schedule, project approvals, and project risks, 
each of which is described in greater detail in the following sections. 
Applicants are not required to follow the specific format described 
here, but this organization, which addresses each relevant aspect of 
project readiness, promotes a clear discussion that assists project 
evaluators. To minimize redundant information in the application, the 
Department encourages applicants to cross-reference from this section 
of their application to relevant substantive information in other 
sections of the application.
    The guidance here is about what information applicants should 
provide and how the applicant should organize their application. 
Guidance describing how the Department will evaluate a project's 
readiness is described in section E.1 of this notice. Applicants also 
should review that section before considering how to organize their 
application.
    (A) Technical Feasibility. The applicant should demonstrate the 
technical feasibility of the project with engineering and design 
studies and activities; the development of design criteria and/or a 
basis of design; the basis for the cost estimate presented in the INFRA 
application, including the identification of contingency levels 
appropriate to its level of design; and any scope, schedule, and budget 
risk-mitigation measures. Applicants should include a detailed 
statement of work that focuses on the technical and engineering aspects 
of the project and describes in detail the project to be constructed.
    (B) Project Schedule. The applicant should include a detailed 
project schedule that identifies all major project milestones. Examples 
of such milestones include State and local planning approvals 
(programming on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program), 
start and completion of NEPA and other Federal environmental reviews 
and approvals including permitting; design completion; right of way 
acquisition; approval of plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E); 
procurement; State and local approvals; project partnership and 
implementation agreements including agreements with railroads; and 
construction. The project schedule should be sufficiently detailed to 
demonstrate that:
    (1) All necessary activities will be complete to allow INFRA funds 
to be obligated sufficiently in advance of the statutory deadline 
(September 30, 2020 for FY 2017 funds, September 30, 2021 for FY 2018 
funds), and that any unexpected delays will not put the funds at risk 
of expiring before they are obligated;
    (2) the project can begin construction quickly upon obligation of 
INFRA funds, and that the grant funds will be spent expeditiously once 
construction starts; and
    (3) all real property and right-of-way acquisition will be 
completed in a timely manner in accordance with 49 CFR part 24, 23 CFR 
part 710, and other applicable legal requirements or a statement that 
no acquisition is necessary.
    (C) Required Approvals.
    (1) Environmental Permits and Reviews. The application should 
demonstrate receipt (or reasonably anticipated receipt) of all 
environmental approvals and permits necessary for the project to 
proceed to construction on the timeline specified in the project 
schedule and necessary to meet the statutory obligation deadline, 
including satisfaction of all Federal, State and local requirements and 
completion of the NEPA process. Specifically, the application should 
include:
    (a) Information about the NEPA status of the project. If the NEPA 
process is complete, an applicant should indicate the date of 
completion, and provide a Web site link or other reference to the final 
Categorical Exclusion, Finding of No Significant Impact, Record of 
Decision, and any other NEPA documents prepared. If the NEPA process is 
underway, but not complete, the application should detail the type of 
NEPA review underway, where the project is in the process, and indicate 
the anticipated date of completion of all

[[Page 31145]]

milestones and of the final NEPA determination. If the last agency 
action with respect to NEPA documents occurred more than three years 
before the application date, the applicant should describe why the 
project has been delayed and include a proposed approach for verifying 
and, if necessary, updating this material in accordance with applicable 
NEPA requirements.
    (b) Information on reviews, approvals, and permits by other 
agencies. An application should indicate whether the proposed project 
requires reviews or approval actions by other agencies,\8\ indicate the 
status of such actions, and provide detailed information about the 
status of those reviews or approvals and should demonstrate compliance 
with any other applicable Federal, State, or local requirements, and 
when such approvals are expected. Applicants should provide a Web site 
link or other reference to copies of any reviews, approvals, and 
permits prepared.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Projects that may impact protected resources such as 
wetlands, species habitat, cultural or historic resources require 
review and approval by Federal and State agencies with jurisdiction 
over those resources.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (c) Environmental studies or other documents--preferably through a 
Web site link--that describe in detail known project impacts, and 
possible mitigation for those impacts.
    (d) A description of discussions with the appropriate USDOT modal 
administration field or headquarters office regarding the project's 
compliance with NEPA and other applicable Federal environmental reviews 
and approvals.
    (e) A description of public engagement about the project that has 
occurred, including details on the degree to which public comments and 
commitments have been integrated into project development and design.
    (2) State and Local Approvals. The applicant should demonstrate 
receipt of State and local approvals on which the project depends, such 
as State and local environmental and planning approvals and STIP or TIP 
funding. Additional support from relevant State and local officials is 
not required; however, an applicant should demonstrate that the project 
has broad public support.
    (3) Federal Transportation Requirements Affecting State and Local 
Planning. The planning requirements applicable to the Federal-aid 
highway program apply to all INFRA projects, but for port, freight, and 
rail projects planning requirements of the operating administration 
that will administer the INFRA project will also apply,\9\ including 
intermodal projects located at airport facilities.\10\ Applicants 
should demonstrate that a project that is required to be included in 
the relevant State, metropolitan, and local planning documents has been 
or will be included in such documents. If the project is not included 
in a relevant planning document at the time the application is 
submitted, the applicant should submit a statement from the appropriate 
planning agency that actions are underway to include the project in the 
relevant planning document.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 134 and 135, all projects 
requiring an action by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 
must be in the applicable plan and programming documents (e.g., 
metropolitan transportation plan, transportation improvement program 
(TIP) and statewide transportation improvement program (STIP)). 
Further, in air quality non-attainment and maintenance areas, all 
regionally significant projects, regardless of the funding source, 
must be included in the conforming metropolitan transportation plan 
and TIP. Inclusion in the STIP is required under certain 
circumstances. To the extent a project is required to be on a 
metropolitan transportation plan, TIP, and/or STIP, it will not 
receive an INFRA grant until it is included in such plans. Projects 
not currently included in these plans can be amended by the State 
and metropolitan planning organization (MPO). Projects that are not 
required to be in long range transportation plans, STIPs, and TIPs 
will not need to be included in such plans in order to receive an 
INFRA grant. Port, freight rail, and intermodal projects are not 
required to be on the State Rail Plans called for in the Passenger 
Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. However, applicants 
seeking funding for freight projects are encouraged to demonstrate 
that they have done sufficient planning to ensure that projects fit 
into a prioritized list of capital needs and are consistent with 
long-range goals. Means of demonstrating this consistency would 
include whether the project is in a TIP or a State Freight Plan that 
conforms to the requirements Section 70202 of Title 49 prior to the 
start of construction. Port planning guidelines are available at 
StrongPorts.gov.
    \10\ Projects at grant obligated airports must be compatible 
with the FAA-approved Airport Layout Plan (ALP), as well as 
aeronautical surfaces associated with the landing and takeoff of 
aircraft at the airport. Additionally, projects at an airport: Must 
comply with established Sponsor Grant Assurances, including (but not 
limited to) requirements for non-exclusive use facilities, 
consultation with users, consistency with local plans including 
development of the area surrounding the airport, and consideration 
of the interest of nearby communities, among others; and must not 
adversely affect the continued and unhindered access of passengers 
to the terminal.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To the extent possible, freight projects should be included in a 
State Freight Plan and supported by a State Freight Advisory Committee 
(49 U.S.C. 70201, 70202). Applicants should provide links or other 
documentation supporting this consideration.
    Because projects have different schedules, the construction start 
date for each INFRA grant will be specified in the project-specific 
agreements signed by relevant modal administration and the grant 
recipients, based on critical path items that applicants identify in 
the application and will be consistent with relevant State and local 
plans.
    (D) Assessment of Project Risks and Mitigation Strategies. Project 
risks, such as procurement delays, environmental uncertainties, 
increases in real estate acquisition costs, uncommitted local match, or 
lack of legislative approval, affect the likelihood of successful 
project start and completion. The applicant should identify all 
material risks to the project and the strategies that the lead 
applicant and any project partners have undertaken or will undertake in 
order to mitigate those risks. The applicant should assess the greatest 
risks to the project and identify how the project parties will mitigate 
those risks.
    To the extent it is unfamiliar with the Federal program, the 
applicant should contact USDOT modal field or headquarters offices as 
found at www.transportation.gov/infragrants for information on what 
steps are pre-requisite to the obligation of Federal funds in order to 
ensure that their project schedule is reasonable and that there are no 
risks of delays in satisfying Federal requirements.
vii. Large/Small Project Requirements
    To select a large project for award, the Department must determine 
that the project satisfies several statutory requirements enumerated at 
23 U.S.C. 117(g) and restated in the table below. The application must 
include sufficient information for the Department to make these 
determinations. Applicants should use this section of the application 
to summarize how their project meets each of the following 
requirements. Applicants are not required to reproduce the table below 
in their application, but following this format will help evaluators 
identify the relevant information that supports each large project 
determination. To minimize redundant information in the application, 
the Department encourages applicants to cross-reference from this 
section of their application to relevant substantive information in 
other sections of the application.

[[Page 31146]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Large project determination                    Guidance
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Does the project generate national    Summarize the economic,
 or regional economic, mobility, safety   mobility, and safety benefits
 benefits?                                described in Section V of the
                                          application, and describe the
                                          scale of their impact in
                                          national or regional terms.
2. Is the project cost effective?        Highlight the results of the
                                          benefit cost analysis
                                          described in Section V of the
                                          application.
3. Does the project contribute to one    Specify the Goal(s) and
 or more of the Goals listed under 23     summarize how the project
 U.S.C. 150 (and shown below)?            contributes to that goal(s).
(b) National Goals.--It is in the         This information may also be
 interest of the United States to focus   found in Section I or Section
 the Federal-aid highway program on the   V.
 following national goals:.
    (1) Safety.--To achieve a
     significant reduction in traffic
     fatalities and serious injuries on
     all public roads.
    (2) Infrastructure condition.--To
     maintain the highway
     infrastructure asset system in a
     state of good repair.
    (3) Congestion reduction.--To
     achieve a significant reduction in
     congestion on the National Highway
     System.
    (4) System reliability.--To improve
     the efficiency of the surface
     transportation system.
    (5) Freight movement and economic
     vitality.--To improve the national
     freight network, strengthen the
     ability of rural communities to
     access national and international
     trade markets, and support
     regional economic development.
    (6) Environmental sustainability.--
     To enhance the performance of the
     transportation system while
     protecting and enhancing the
     natural environment.
    (7) Reduced project delivery
     delays.--To reduce project costs,
     promote jobs and the economy, and
     expedite the movement of people
     and goods by accelerating project
     completion through eliminating
     delays in the project development
     and delivery process, including
     reducing regulatory burdens and
     improving agencies' work
     practices.
4. Is the project based on the results   Yes/No. Please provide evidence
 of preliminary engineering?              of preliminary engineering.
                                          For more information on
                                          preliminary engineering
                                          activities, please see: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federalaid/150311.cfm.
5a. With respect to non-Federal          Please indicate funding
 financial commitments, does the          source(s) and amounts.
 project have one or more stable and      Historical trends, current
 dependable funding or financing          policy, or future feasibility
 sources to construct, maintain, and      analyses can be used as
 operate the project?                     evidence to substantiate the
                                          stable and dependable nature
                                          of the non-Federal funding or
                                          financing.
5b. Are contingency amounts available    Contingency amounts are often,
 to cover unanticipated cost increases?   but not always, expressly
                                          shown in project budgets or
                                          the SF-424C. If your project
                                          cost estimates include an
                                          implicit contingency
                                          calculation, please say so
                                          directly.
6. Is it the case that the project       Discussion of the impact that
 cannot be easily and efficiently         not having any Federal
 completed without other Federal          funding, including an INFRA
 funding or financial assistance          grant, would have on project's
 available to the project sponsor?        schedule, cost, or likelihood
                                          of completion, can help convey
                                          whether a project can be
                                          completed as easily or
                                          efficiently without Federal
                                          funding available to the
                                          project sponsor.
7. Is the project reasonably expected    Please reference project budget
 to begin construction not later than     and schedule when providing
 18 months after the date of obligation   evidence.
 of funds for the project?
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For a small project to be selected, the Department must consider 
the cost effectiveness of the proposed project and the effect of the 
proposed project on mobility in the State and region in which the 
project is carried out. If an applicant seeks an award for a small 
project, it should use this section to provide information on the 
project's cost effectiveness and the project's effect on the mobility 
in its State and region, or refer to where else the information can be 
found in the application.
c. Guidance for Benefit-Cost Analysis
    This section describes the recommended approach for the completion 
and submission of a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) as an appendix to the 
Project Narrative. The results of the analysis should be summarized in 
the Project Narrative directly, as described in Section D.2.b.v.
    Applicants should delineate each of their project's expected 
outcomes in the form of a complete BCA to enable the Department to 
consider cost-effectiveness (small projects), determine whether the 
project will be cost effective (large projects), estimate a benefit-
cost ratio and calculate the magnitude of net benefits and costs for 
the project. In support of each project for which an applicant seeks 
funding, that applicant should submit a BCA that quantifies the 
expected benefits of the project against a no-build baseline, provides 
monetary estimates of the benefits' economic value, and compares the 
properly-discounted present values of these benefits to the project's 
estimated costs.
    The primary economic benefits from projects eligible for INFRA 
grants are likely to include savings in travel time costs, vehicle 
operating costs, and safety costs for both existing users of the 
improved facility and new users who may be attracted to it as a result 
of the project. Reduced damages from vehicle emissions and savings in 
maintenance costs to public agencies may also be quantified. Applicants 
may describe other categories of benefits in the BCA that are more 
difficult to quantify and value in economic terms, such as improving 
the reliability of travel times or improvements to the existing human 
and natural environments (such as increased connectivity, improved 
public

[[Page 31147]]

health, storm water runoff mitigation, and noise reduction), while also 
providing numerical estimates of the magnitude and timing of each of 
these additional impacts wherever possible. Any benefits claimed for 
the project, both quantified and unquantified, should be clearly tied 
to the expected outcomes of the project.
    The BCA should include the full costs of developing, constructing, 
operating, and maintaining the proposed project, as well as the 
expected timing or schedule for costs in each of these categories. The 
BCA may also consider the present discounted value of any remaining 
service life of the asset at the end of the analysis period (net of 
future maintenance and rehabilitation costs) as a deduction from the 
estimated costs. The costs and benefits that are compared in the BCA 
should also cover the same project scope.
    The BCA should carefully document the assumptions and methodology 
used to produce the analysis, including a description of the baseline, 
the sources of data used to project the outcomes of the project, and 
the values of key input parameters. Applicants should provide all 
relevant files used for their BCA, including any spreadsheet files and 
technical memos describing the analysis (whether created in-house or by 
a contractor). The spreadsheets and technical memos should present the 
calculations in sufficient detail and transparency to allow the 
analysis to be reproduced by USDOT evaluators. Detailed guidance for 
estimating some types of quantitative benefits and costs, together with 
recommended economic values for converting them to dollar terms and 
discounting to their present values, are available in the Department's 
guidance for conducting BCAs for projects seeking funding under the 
INFRA program (see https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/
infragrants).
    Applicants for freight projects within the boundaries of a freight 
rail, water (including ports), or intermodal facility should also 
quantify the benefits of their proposed projects for freight movements 
on the National Highway Freight Network, and should demonstrate that 
the Federal share of the project funds only elements of the project 
that provide public benefits.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

    Each applicant must: (1) Be registered in SAM before submitting its 
application; (2) provide a valid unique entity identifier in its 
application; and (3) continue to maintain an active SAM registration 
with current information at all times during which it has an active 
Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by a 
Federal awarding agency. The Department may not make an INFRA grant to 
an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable 
unique entity identifier and SAM requirements and, if an applicant has 
not fully complied with the requirements by the time the Department is 
ready to make an INFRA grant, the Department may determine that the 
applicant is not qualified to receive an INFRA grant and use that 
determination as a basis for making an INFRA grant to another 
applicant.

4. Submission Dates and Timelines

a. Deadline
    Applications must be submitted by 8:00 p.m. EST November 2, 2017. 
The Grants.gov ``Apply'' function will open by August 1, 2017.
    To submit an application through Grants.gov, applicants must:

    (1) Obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number:
    (2) Register with the System Award for Management (SAM) at 
www.sam.gov; and
    (3) Create a Grants.gov username and password;
    (4) The E-business Point of Contact (POC) at the applicant's 
organization must also respond to the registration email from 
Grants.gov and login at Grants.gov to authorize the POC as an 
Authorized Organization Representative (AOR). Please note that there 
can only be one AOR per organization.
    Please note that the Grants.gov registration process usually takes 
2-4 weeks to complete and that the Department will not consider late 
applications that are the result of failure to register or comply with 
Grants.gov applicant requirements in a timely manner. For information 
and instruction on each of these processes, please see instructions at 
http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/applicant-faqs.html. If 
interested parties experience difficulties at any point during the 
registration or application process, please call the Grants.gov 
Customer Service Support Hotline at 1(800) 518-4726, Monday-Friday from 
7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST.
b. Consideration of Application
    Only applicants who comply with all submission deadlines described 
in this notice and submit applications through Grants.gov will be 
eligible for award. Applicants are strongly encouraged to make 
submissions in advance of the deadline.
c. Late Applications
    Applications received after the deadline will not be considered 
except in the case of unforeseen technical difficulties outlined in 
Section D.4.d.
d. Late Application Policy
    Applicants experiencing technical issues with Grants.gov that are 
beyond the applicant's control must contact INFRAgrants@dot.gov prior 
to the application deadline with the user name of the registrant and 
details of the technical issue experienced. The applicant must provide:
    (1) Details of the technical issue experienced;
    (2) Screen capture(s) of the technical issues experienced along 
with corresponding Grants.gov ``Grant tracking number'';
    (3) The ``Legal Business Name'' for the applicant that was provided 
in the SF-424;
    (4) The AOR name submitted in the SF-424;
    (5) The DUNS number associated with the application; and
    (6) The Grants.gov Help Desk Tracking Number.
    To ensure a fair competition of limited discretionary funds, the 
following conditions are not valid reasons to permit late submissions: 
(1) Failure to complete the registration process before the deadline; 
(2) failure to follow Grants.gov instructions on how to register and 
apply as posted on its Web site; (3) failure to follow all of the 
instructions in this notice of funding opportunity; and (4) technical 
issues experienced with the applicant's computer or information 
technology environment. After the Department reviews all information 
submitted and contact the Grants.gov Help Desk to validate reported 
technical issues, USDOT staff will contact late applicants to approve 
or deny a request to submit a late application through Grants.gov. If 
the reported technical issues cannot be validated, late applications 
will be rejected as untimely.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

a. Merit Criteria for Construction Projects
    To differentiate among applications for construction projects under 
this notice, the Department will consider the extent to which the 
project addresses the follow criteria, which are explained in greater 
detail below and reflect the key program objectives described in 
section A.2: (1) Support for national or regional economic vitality; 
(2)

[[Page 31148]]

leveraging of Federal funding; (3) potential for innovation; and (4) 
performance and accountability. The Department is neither weighting 
these criteria nor requiring that each application address every 
criterion, but the Department expects that competitive applications 
will substantively address all four criteria.
Criterion #1: Support for National or Regional Economic Vitality
    The Department will consider the extent to which a project would 
support the economic vitality of either the nation or a region. To the 
extent possible, the Department will rely on quantitative, data-
supported analysis to assess how well a project addresses this 
criterion, including an assessment of the applicant-supplied benefit-
cost analysis described in section D.2.d. In addition to considering 
the anticipated outcomes of the project that align with this criterion, 
the Department will consider estimates of the project's benefit-cost 
ratio and net quantifiable benefits.
    There are several different types of projects that the Department 
anticipates will successfully support national or regional economic 
vitality, including projects that:
     Achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and 
serious injuries on the surface transportation system;
     Improve interactions between roadway users, reducing the 
likelihood of derailments or high consequence events;
     Eliminate bottlenecks in the freight supply chain;
     Ensure or restore the good condition of infrastructure 
that supports commerce and economic growth;
     Sustain or advance national or regional economic 
development in areas of need, including projects that provide or 
improve connections to the Nation's transportation network to support 
the movement of freight and people; and
     Reduce barriers separating workers from employment 
centers, including projects that are primarily oriented toward reducing 
traffic congestion and corridor projects that reduce transportation 
network gaps to connect peripheral regions to urban centers or job 
opportunities.
    The Department anticipates that applications for networks of 
projects are likely to align well with this evaluation criterion 
because networks of projects often are able to address problems on a 
broader scale.
Criterion #2: Leveraging of Federal Funding
    To maximize the impact of INFRA awards, the Department seeks to 
leverage INFRA funding with non-Federal contributions. Therefore, the 
Department will consider the extent to which an applicant proposes to 
use non-Federal funding. For example, an application that proposes a 20 
percent Federal share will be more competitive than an otherwise 
identical application proposing 50 percent Federal share. For the 
purposes of this criterion, funds from Federal credit programs, 
including TIFIA and RRIF, will be considered non-Federal funding.
    There are three additional types of information that the Department 
will consider when evaluating an applicant's non-Federal contributions. 
First, DOT recognizes that applicants have varying abilities and 
resources to contribute non-Federal contributions. If an applicant 
describes broader fiscal constraints that affect its ability to 
generate or draw on non-Federal contributions, the Department will 
consider those constraints. Relevant constraints may include the size 
of the population taxed to supply the matching funds, the wealth of 
that population, or other constraints on the raising of funds. In 
practice, the Department expects that projects that come from rural or 
less-wealthy applicants will have to meet a lower standard for leverage 
than projects coming from urban or more wealthy applicants; however, 
the Department still expects all applicants' projects to maximize 
leverage to the extent they are able. Second, the Department recognizes 
that some applicants consolidate Federal funding into a minimum number 
of projects to simplify their burden complying with Federal 
administrative requirements. For those applicants, the Federal share on 
specific projects may be much higher than the overall Federal share of 
their overall transportation program. If an applicant follows that 
practice, explains their practice in their application, and provides 
evidence establishing the Federal share of their overall transportation 
program, the Department will consider that information. Third, the 
Department will consider how well the applicant has prepared for future 
operations and maintenance costs associated with their project's life-
cycle. Applicants should demonstrate a credible plan to maintain their 
asset without having to rely on future federal funding. This plan 
should include a description of the applicant's approach to ensuring 
operations and maintenance will not be underfunded in future years.
    In addition, the Department seeks to increase the sources of 
infrastructure funding by encouraging private infrastructure 
investment. Therefore, projects that incorporate private sector 
contributions, including through a public-private partnership 
structure, are likely to be more competitive than those that rely 
solely on public non-Federal funding. Likewise, applicants who have 
pursued private funds for appropriate projects are likely to be more 
competitive under this program than applicants who have not. If an 
applicant omits information on the applicability and pursuit of private 
funds, the Department may conclude that the applicant has not 
considered viable non-Federal funding alternatives and an INFRA award 
would be premature.
    This evaluation criterion is separate from the statutory cost share 
requirements for INFRA grants, which are described Section C.2. Those 
statutory requirements establish the minimum permissible non-Federal 
share; they do not define a competitive INFRA project.
Criterion #3: Potential for Innovation
    The Department seeks to use INFRA program to encourage innovation 
in three areas: (1) Environmental review and permitting; (2) use of 
experimental project delivery authorities; and (3) safety and 
technology. Under this criterion, the Department will consider the 
extent to which a project includes or enables innovation in each of 
those areas.
    In Innovation Area #1, as described in section A.2.c, the 
Department seeks to establish a new approach to the process of Federal 
environmental review and permitting. When making INFRA award decisions, 
the Department will consider an applicant's interest in the 
participating in this new approach and the extent to which the project 
could benefit from that participation. The Department will also 
consider the degree to which the results of a project's participation 
might be representative and reproducible to other departmental or 
government-wide projects or programs.
    In Innovation Area #2, as described in section A.2.c, the 
Department seeks innovative approaches to project delivery under the 
auspices of the FHWA SEP-14 and SEP-15 programs and any other 
applicable experimental programs. When making INFRA award decisions, 
the Department will consider the applicant's proposals to use those 
programs, whether the proposals are consistent with the objectives and 
requirements of those programs, the potential benefits that 
experimental authorities or waivers might provide to the project, and 
the broader applicability of potential results.

[[Page 31149]]

    Finally, in Innovation Area #3, as described in section A.2.c, the 
Department seeks to experiment with innovative approaches to 
transportation safety, particularly in relation to automated vehicles 
and the detection, mitigation, and documentation of safety risks. When 
making INFRA award decisions, the Department will consider any 
innovative safety approaches proposed by the applicant, the safety 
benefits that those approaches could produce, and the broader 
applicability of the potential results. As described in section F.2.a, 
the Department expects all projects to implement baseline safety 
improvements consistent with FHWA's list of ``Proven Countermeasures'' 
and will not consider those improvements under this criterion.
Criterion #4: Performance and Accountability
    The Department intends to award INFRA funding to projects that will 
be delivered on agreed-upon schedules, that will generate clear, 
quantifiable, results, and that will advance the Department's 
transportation policy goals. The Department expects all applicants to 
provide accurate estimates of benefits of their project, its delivery 
schedule, and total costs. However, the Department will consider the 
extent to which the applicant proposes specific measures and conditions 
allowing the Department to ensure accountability, as described in 
section A.2.d. Instead of rewarding unrealistic promises, the 
Department intends to reward thoughtful planning, efficient delivery, 
and effective policy.
b. Additional Considerations
i. Geographic Diversity
    By statute, when selecting INFRA projects, the Department must 
consider contributions to geographic diversity among recipients, 
including the need for a balance between the needs of rural and urban 
communities. However, the Department also recognizes that it can better 
balance the needs of rural and urban communities if it does not take a 
binary view of urban and rural. Accordingly, in addition to considering 
whether a project is ``rural'' as defined by the INFRA statute and 
described in section C.3.e, when balancing the needs of rural and urban 
communities, the Department will consider the actual population of the 
community that each project serves.
ii. Project Readiness
    During application evaluation, the Department considers project 
readiness in two ways: To assess the likelihood of successful project 
delivery and to confirm that a project will satisfy statutory readiness 
requirements.
    First, the Department will consider significant risks to successful 
completion of a project, including risks associated with environmental 
review, permitting, technical feasibility, funding, and the applicant's 
capacity to manage project delivery. Risks do not disqualify projects 
from award, but competitive applications clearly and directly describe 
achievable risk mitigation strategies. A project with mitigated risks 
is more competitive than a comparable project with unaddressed risks.
    Second, by statute, the Department cannot award a large project 
unless that project is reasonably expected to begin construction within 
18 months of obligation of funds for the project. Obligation occurs 
when a selected applicant enters a written, project-specific agreement 
with the Department and is generally after the applicant has satisfied 
applicable administrative requirements, including transportation 
planning and environmental review requirements. Depending on the nature 
of pre-construction activities included in the awarded project, the 
Department may obligate funds in phases. Preliminary engineering and 
right-of-way acquisition activities, such as environmental review, 
design work, and other preconstruction activities, do not fulfill the 
requirement to begin construction within 18 months of obligation for 
large projects. By statute, INFRA funds must be obligated within three 
years of the end of the fiscal year for which they are authorized. 
Therefore, for awards with FY 2017 funds, the Department will determine 
that large projects with an anticipated obligation date beyond 
September 30, 2020 are not reasonably expected to begin construction 
within 18 months of obligation. For awards with FY 2018 funds, that 
deadline is one year later: September 30, 2021.

2. Review and Selection Process

    The USDOT will review all eligible applications received before the 
application deadline. The INFRA process consists of a Technical 
Evaluation phase and Senior Review. In the Technical Evaluation phase, 
teams will, for each project, determine whether the project satisfies 
statutory requirements and rate how well it addresses the selection 
criteria. The Senior Review Team will consider the applications and the 
technical evaluations to determine which projects to advance to the 
Secretary for consideration. The Secretary will ultimately select the 
projects for award. A Quality Control and Oversight Team will ensure 
consistency across project evaluations and appropriate documentation 
throughout the review and selection process.

3. Additional Information

    Prior to award, each selected applicant will be subject to a risk 
assessment as required by 2 CFR 200.205. The Department must review and 
consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated 
integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently the 
Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)). 
An applicant may review information in FAPIIS and comment on any 
information about itself. The Department will consider comments by the 
applicant, in addition to the other information in FAPIIS, 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.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notices

    Following the evaluation outlined in section E, the Secretary will 
announce awarded projects by posting a list of selected projects at 
https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/INFRAgrants. Following the 
announcement, the Department will contact the point of contact listed 
in the SF 424 to initiate negotiation of a project-specific agreement.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

a. Safety Requirements
    The Department will require INFRA projects to meet two general 
requirements related to safety. First, INFRA projects must be part of a 
thoughtful, data-driven approach to safety. Each State maintains a 
strategic highway safety plan.\11\ INFRA projects will be required to 
incorporate appropriate elements that respond to priority areas 
identified in that plan and are likely to yield safety benefits. 
Second, INFRA projects will incorporate two categories of safety-
related activities. The first category encompasses activities that the 
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has identified as ``proven safety 
countermeasures'' due to their history of

[[Page 31150]]

demonstrated effectiveness.\12\ The second category encompasses safety-
related tools, technologies, and practices from FHWA's Every Day Counts 
initiative.\13\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ Information on State-specific strategic highway safety 
plans is available at https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/shsp/other_resources.cfm.
    \12\ Information on FHWA proven safety countermeasures is 
available at: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/.
    \13\ Information of the FHWA Everyday Counts Initiative is 
available at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After selecting INFRA recipients, the Department will work with 
those recipients on a project-by-project basis to determine the 
specific safety requirements that are appropriate for each award.
b. Other Administrative and Policy Requirements
    All INFRA awards will be administered pursuant to the Uniform 
Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for 
Federal Awards found in 2 CFR part 200, as adopted by USDOT at 2 CFR 
part 1201. A project carried out under the INFRA program will be 
treated as if the project is located on a Federal-aid highway. All 
INFRA projects are subject to the Buy America requirement at 23 U.S.C. 
313. Additionally, applicable Federal laws, rules and regulations of 
the relevant operating administration administering the project will 
apply to the projects that receive INFRA grants, including planning 
requirements, Stakeholder Agreements, and other requirements under the 
Department's other highway, transit, rail, and port grant programs. For 
an illustrative list of the applicable laws, rules, regulations, 
executive orders, policies, guidelines, and requirements as they relate 
to an INFRA grant, please see http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/Freight/infrastructure/nsfhp/fy2016_gr_exhbt_c/index.htm.
    The applicability of Federal requirements to a project may be 
affected by the scope of the NEPA reviews for that project. For 
example, under 23 U.S.C. 313(g), Buy America requirements apply to all 
contracts that are eligible for assistance under title 23, United 
States Code, and are carried out within the scope of the NEPA finding, 
determination, or decision regardless of the funding source of such 
contracts if at least one contract is funded with Title 23 funds.

3. Reporting

a. Progress Reporting on Grant Activity
    Each applicant selected for an INFRA grant must submit the Federal 
Financial Report (SF-425) on the financial condition of the project and 
the project's progress, as well as an Annual Budget Review and Program 
Plan to monitor the use of Federal funds and ensure accountability and 
financial transparency in the INFRA program.
b. Reporting of Matters Related to Integrity and Performance
    If the total value of a selected applicant's currently active 
grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from all 
Federal awarding agencies exceeds $10,000,000 for any period of time 
during the period of performance of this Federal award, then the 
applicant during that period of time must maintain the currency of 
information reported to the System for Award Management (SAM) that is 
made available in the designated integrity and performance system 
(currently the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information 
System (FAPIIS)) about civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings 
described in paragraph 2 of this award term and condition. This is a 
statutory requirement under section 872 of Public Law 110-417, as 
amended (41 U.S.C. 2313). As required by section 3010 of Public Law 
111-212, all information posted in the designated integrity and 
performance system on or after April 15, 2011, except past performance 
reviews required for Federal procurement contracts, will be publicly 
available.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this notice, please contact the 
Office of the Secretary via email at InFRAgrants@dot.gov. For more 
information about highway projects, please contact Crystal Jones at 
(202) 366-2976. For more information about maritime projects, please 
contact Robert Bouchard at (202) 366-5076. For more information about 
rail projects, please contact Stephanie Lawrence at (202) 493-1376. For 
more information about railway-highway grade crossing projects, please 
contact Karen McClure at (202) 493-6417. For all other questions, 
please contact Paul Baumer at (202) 366-1092. A TDD is available for 
individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing at 202-366-3993. In 
addition, up to the application deadline, the Department will post 
answers to common questions and requests for clarifications on USDOT's 
Web site at https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/InFRAgrants. To 
ensure applicants receive accurate information about eligibility or the 
program, the applicant is encouraged to contact USDOT directly, rather 
than through intermediaries or third parties, with questions.

H. Other Information

1. Invitation for Public Comment on the FY 2017-2018 Notice

    The FAST Act authorized the INFRA program through FY 2020. This 
notice solicits applications for FY 2017 and FY 2018 only. The 
Department invites interested parties to submit comments about this 
notice's contents, and the Department's implementation choices, as well 
as suggestions for clarification in future INFRA rounds. The Department 
may consider the submitted comments and suggestions when developing 
subsequent INFRA solicitations and guidance, but submitted comments 
will not affect the selection criteria for the FY 2017-FY 2018 round. 
Applications or comments about specific projects should not be 
submitted to the docket. Any application submitted to the docket will 
not be reviewed. Comments should be sent to DOT-OST-0090 by November 2, 
2017, but, to the extent practicable, the Department will consider late 
filed comments.

2. Protection of Confidential Business Information

    All information submitted as part of, or in support of, any 
application shall use publicly-available data or data that can be made 
public and methodologies that are accepted by industry practice and 
standards, to the extent possible. If the application includes 
information the applicant considers to be a trade secret or 
confidential commercial or financial information, the applicant should 
do the following: (1) Note on the front cover that the submission 
``Contains Confidential Business Information (CBI)''; (2) mark each 
affected page ``CBI''; and (3) highlight or otherwise denote the CBI 
portions.
    The Department protects such information from disclosure to the 
extent allowed under applicable law. In the event the Department 
receives a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the 
information, USDOT will follow the procedures described in its FOIA 
regulations at 49 CFR 7.17. Only information that is ultimately 
determined to be confidential under that procedure will be exempt from 
disclosure under FOIA.

3. Publication of Application Information

    Following the completion of the selection process and announcement 
of awards, the Department intends to publish a list of all applications 
received along with the names of the applicant organizations and 
funding amounts requested.


[[Page 31151]]


    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2017.
Elaine L. Chao,
Secretary of Transportation.
[FR Doc. 2017-14042 Filed 7-3-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P

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