Today (July 7), the Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) of the House Committee on Appropriations released H.R. ____, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 THUD Appropriations bill. The measure will be considered by the Subcommittee on July 8 and will be considered by the Full Committee next week.
Funding Levels and Grant Awards
The legislation contains historic funding levels, including the significant increases proposed for transit formula programs in H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act. The bill provides $18.9 billion for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs and $3 billion for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) programs.
Title V of the bill, “Additional Infrastructure Investments”, provides an additional $26 billion of emergency funding for Department of Transportation (DOT) programs. The Committee states that this funding is to “support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.” The additional funding includes:
- $5 billion for Capital Investment Grants
- $5 billion for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements
- $5 billion for Northeast Corridor Grants to Amtrak
- $3 billion for National Network Grants to Amtrak
- $100 million for Magnetic Levitation Technology Deployment Program
- $3 billion for BUILD Grants
- In addition, section 163 of the bill does not allow application of the Rostenkowski Test, an administrative provision that would require a $6 billion cut to public transportation formula grants in FY 2021.
Please click here to view the legislation.
Capital Investment Grants
The bill provides $2.175 billion for Capital Investment Grants (CIG) and requires the FTA to allocate 85 percent of these funds by December 31, 2022. Of the $2.175 billion, the bill provides $1.25 billion for New Starts, $525 million for Core Capacity projects, $300 million for Small Starts, and $100 million for the Expedited Project Delivery for CIG Pilot Program.
The bill also includes important policy provisions to ensure that FTA administers the CIG program in accordance with the procedural and substantive requirements of current law (49 U.S.C. 5309). Importantly, the bill prohibits FTA from:
- impeding or hindering a project from advancing or approving projects seeking a CIG federal share of more than 40 percent; and
- implementing or furthering new policies detailed in FTA’s June 29, 2018 “Dear Colleague” letter to CIG project sponsors. The Administration’s Dear Colleague letter established geographic diversity as a factor in FTA funding allocation decisions; considered DOT loans “in the context of” all federal funding sources requested by the project sponsor, and not separate from the federal funding sources; and included other Administration policy objectives. APTA has repeatedly communicated its serious concerns with the CIG policies outlined in the June 29 Dear Colleague letter to both Congress and the Administration. For APTA’s Summary of FTA’s June 29 CIG Dear Colleague, please click here.
Finally, the bill authorizes projects in the Expedited Project Delivery for CIG Pilot Program to be eligible for funding under the CIG program without further evaluation or rating. However, the CIG funding cannot exceed the federal share of 25 percent under the Pilot Program.
The bill provides $2 billion for Amtrak grants, $500 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants, and $200 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants. Under the CRISI program, $60 million is dedicated to highway-rail grade crossing improvement projects and $25 million is dedicated to capital projects and engineering solutions targeting trespassing, with preference given for projects located in counties with the most pedestrian trespasser casualties as identified in the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property. In addition, $90 million is dedicated for eligible projects that support the development of new intercity passenger rail service routes including alignments for existing routes, with preference for pre-construction elements including preliminary engineering and final design of such projects.
The bill also includes language prohibiting the FRA from awarding, transferring, or obligating the deobligated funds from the California high-speed rail project to any other program or recipient until litigation of the issue is completed.
The bill provides $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) (formerly TIGER) competitive grants for surface transportation projects, including public transportation and multi-modal projects. The bill requires that the DOT ensure equitable geographic distribution of the funds and investment in a variety of transportation modes. It requires that $600 million (60 percent) of this funding must be awarded for grants in large urbanized areas (population of 250,000 or more). It also stipulates that $20 million shall be used for transit-oriented development (TOD), and $20 million shall be used for projects located in areas of persistent poverty.