Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT).
Notice of funding opportunity (NOFO or notice).
This notice details the application requirements and procedures to obtain grant 
funding for eligible projects under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program. CRISI Program funding is provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, Div. K, Tit I, Public Law 115-31, (Appropriations Act). The opportunities described in this notice are available under Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 20.325, “Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements.”
Applications for funding under this solicitation are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT, June 21, 2018. Applications for funding or supplemental material in support of an application received after 5:00 p.m. EDT on June 21, 2018 will not be considered for funding. Incomplete applications will not be considered for funding. See Section D of this notice for additional information on the application process.
Applications must be submitted via 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. For any supporting application materials that an applicant is unable to submit via www.Grants.gov (such as oversized engineering drawings), an applicant may submit an original and two (2) copies to Ms. Amy Houser, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W36-412, Washington, DC 20590. However, due to delays caused by enhanced screening of mail delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, applicants are advised to use other means of conveyance (such as courier service) to assure timely receipt of materials before the application deadline.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
For further project or program-related Start Printed Page 7529information in this notice, please contact Ms. Frances Bourne, Office of Policy and Planning, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W38-207, Washington, DC 20590; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 202-493-6366. Grant application submission and processing questions should be addressed to Ms. Amy Houser, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W36-412, Washington, DC 20590; email: email@example.com; phone: 202-493-0303.
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Start Supplemental Information
Notice to applicants: FRA recommends that applicants read this notice in its entirety prior to preparing application materials. A list providing the definitions of key terms used throughout the NOFO is in Section A(2) below. These key terms are capitalized throughout the NOFO. There are several administrative prerequisites and specific eligibility requirements described herein that applicants must comply with to submit an application. Additionally, applicants should note that the required Project Narrative component of the application package may not exceed 25 pages in length.
Table of Contents:
A. Program Description
B. Federal Award Information
C. Eligibility Information
D. Application and Submission Information
E. Application Review Information
F. Federal Award Administration Information
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts
A. Program Description
The U.S. rail network is central to the success of the American economy, carrying over 31.3 million passengers on Amtrak services and more than 1.6 billion tons of freight valued at nearly $600 billion. This program provides a comprehensive solution to fund Capital Project development and implementation to support infrastructure safety and improvements for both intercity passenger and freight railroads. Congress authorized this grant program for the Secretary to invest in a wide range of projects to improve railroad safety, efficiency, and reliability; mitigate congestion at both intercity passenger and freight rail chokepoints; enhance multi-modal connections; and lead to new or substantially improved Intercity Passenger Rail corridors. Additionally, the program includes rail safety projects, such as grade crossing enhancements, rail line Relocations and Improvements, and positive train control (PTC) deployment. Funds are also available to support rail regional and corridor Planning and environmental analyses. The purpose of this notice is to solicit applications for competitive CRISI Program funding authorized under Section 11301 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Public Law 114-94 (2015); 49 U.S.C. 24407 and funded in the Appropriations Act. The Appropriations Act did not include funding for projects described in 49 U.S.C. 24407 (c)(11) or (12).
2. Definitions of Key Terms
a. “Benefit-Cost Analysis” (or “Cost-Benefit Analysis”) is a systematic, data driven, and transparent analysis comparing monetized project benefits and costs, using a no-build baseline and properly discounted present values, including concise documentation of the assumptions and methodology used to produce the analysis; a description of the baseline, data sources used to project outcomes, and values of key input parameters; basis of modeling including spreadsheets, technical memos, etc.; and presentation of the calculations in sufficient detail and transparency to allow the analysis to be reproduced and sensitivity of results evaluated by FRA. Please refer to the Benefit-Cost Analysis Guidance for TIGER and INFRA Applications prior to preparing a BCA at https://www.transportation.gov/office-policy/transportation-policy/benefit-cost-analysis-guidance. In addition, please also refer to the BCA FAQs on FRA's website for some rail specific examples of how to apply the BCA Guidance for TIGER and INFRA Applications to CRISI applications.
b. “Capital Project” means a project for: Acquiring, constructing, improving, or inspecting rail equipment, track and track structures, or a rail facility; expenses incidental to the acquisition or Construction including pre-construction activities (such as designing, engineering, location surveying, mapping, acquiring rights-of-way) and related relocation costs, environmental studies, and all work necessary for FRA to approve the project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related environmental laws and regulations; highway-rail grade crossing improvements; communication and signalization improvements; and rehabilitating, remanufacturing or overhauling rail rolling stock and facilities.
c. “Construction” means the production of fixed works and structures or substantial alterations to such structures or land and associated costs.
d. “Final Design (FD)” means design activities following Preliminary Engineering, and at a minimum, includes the preparation of final Construction plans, detailed specifications, and estimates sufficiently detailed to inform project stakeholders (designers, reviewers, contractors, suppliers, etc.) of the actions required to advance the project from design through completion of Construction.
e. “Improvement” means repair or enhancement to existing Rail Infrastructure, or Construction of new Rail Infrastructure, that results in efficiency of the rail system and the safety of those affected by the system.
f. “Initiation” or “Initiate” means commencing service on a route that did not previously operate Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation.
g. “Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation” means rail passenger transportation, except commuter rail passenger transportation. See 49 U.S.C. 24401(3). In this notice, “Intercity Passenger Rail Service” and “Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation” are equivalent terms to “Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation.”
h. “NEPA” is a Federal law that requires Federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of a proposed action in consultation with appropriate federal, state, and local authorities, and with the public. The NEPA class of action depends on the nature of the proposed action, its complexity, and the potential impacts. For purposes of this NOFO, NEPA also includes all related Federal laws and regulations including Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. (See FRA's Environmental Procedures at: https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L02561.)
i. “Planning” means activities that support the development of a state or regional rail plan or a corridor service development plan.
j. “Positive Train Control (PTC) system” is defined by 49 CFR 270.5 to mean a system designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position, as described in 49 CFR part 236, subpart I.
k. “Preliminary Engineering (PE)” means engineering design to: (1) Define a project, including identification of all environmental impacts, design of all critical project elements at a level Start Printed Page 7530sufficient to assure reliable cost estimates and schedules, (2) complete project management and financial plans, and (3) identify procurement requirements and strategies. The PE development process starts with specific project design alternatives that allow for the assessment of a range of rail improvements, specific alignments, and project designs—to be used concurrent with project or service level NEPA and related analyses. PE occurs prior to FD and Construction.
l. “Rail Carrier” means a person providing common carrier railroad transportation for compensation, but does not include street, suburban, or interurban electric railways not operated as part of the general system of rail transportation. See 49 U.S.C. 10102(5).
m. “Railroad Infrastructure” means intermodal or rail facilities, including track, bridges, tunnels, rail yards, buildings, passenger stations, and maintenance and repair shops. In this NOFO, “Rail Infrastructure” is an equivalent term to “Railroad Infrastructure.”
n. “Relocation” is defined by 49 CFR 262.3 to mean moving a rail line vertically or laterally to a new location. Vertical Relocation refers to raising above the current ground level or sinking below the current ground level of a rail line. Lateral Relocation refers to moving a rail line horizontally to a new location.
o. “Restoration” means reinstating service to a route that formerly operated Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation.
p. “Rural Project” means a project in which all or the majority of the project (determined by the geographic location or locations where the majority of the project funds will be spent) is located in a Rural Area.
q. “Rural Area” is defined in 49 U.S.C. 24407(g)(2) to mean any area not in an urbanized area as defined by the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau defines Urbanized Area (UA) as an area with a population of 50,000 or more people.
Updated lists of UAs as defined by the Census Bureau are available on the Census Bureau website at http://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/dc10map/UAUC_RefMap/ua/.
r. “Tier 1 NEPA” includes the analysis and evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of an action at a broad level, such as a program concept for an entire corridor, and typically does not lead directly to project construction. It identifies the potential environmental impacts of the alternatives being considered for the program, as well as the mitigations that may be needed to address the impacts. The potential environmental impacts and mitigations must be incorporated into each alternative that is evaluated. These are generally Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) that result in the identification of a preferred alternative.
s. “Tier 2 NEPA” includes the required analysis and evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of an action at a project-specific level of detail. Tier 2 NEPA should be sufficient to support final design and construction activities and may include an EIS, an environmental assessment (EA), or a categorical exclusion (CE).
B. Federal Award Information
1. Available Award Amount
The total funding available for awards under this NOFO is $65,232,400 after $680,000 is set aside for FRA program oversight and $2,087,600 is set aside for Special Transportation Circumstances grants that are announced under a separate NOFO at www.GrantSolutions.gov. Under 49 U.S.C. 24407(g) at least $17 million must be made available for Rural Projects. The Appropriations Act directed FRA to award at least $10 million for projects under 49 U.S.C. 24407(c)(2) that contribute to the Initiation or Restoration of Intercity Passenger Rail Service.
2. Award Size
There are no predetermined minimum or maximum dollar thresholds for awards. FRA anticipates making multiple awards with the available funding. FRA may not be able to award grants to all eligible applications, nor even to all applications that meet or exceed the stated evaluation criteria (see Section E, Application Review Information). Projects may require more funding than is available. FRA encourages applicants to propose projects or components of projects that have operational independence that can be completed and implemented with the level of CRISI funding available together with other sources.
FRA strongly encourages applicants to identify and include other state, local, public, or private funding or financing to support the proposed project.
3. Award Type
FRA will make awards for projects selected under this notice through grant agreements and/or cooperative agreements. Grant agreements are used when FRA does not expect to have substantial Federal involvement in carrying out the funded activity. Cooperative agreements allow for substantial Federal involvement in carrying out the agreed upon investment, including technical assistance, review of interim work products, and increased program oversight. The funding provided under these cooperative agreements will be made available to grantees on a reimbursable basis. Applicants must certify that their expenditures are allowable, allocable, reasonable, and necessary to the approved project before seeking reimbursement from FRA. Additionally, the grantee is expected to expend matching funds at the required percentage alongside Federal funds throughout the life of the project. See an example of standard terms and conditions for FRA grant awards at: https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L19057.
4. Concurrent Applications
As DOT and FRA are concurrently soliciting applications for transportation infrastructure projects for several financial assistance programs, applicants may submit applications requesting funding for a particular project to one or more of these programs. In the application for CRISI Program funding, applicants must indicate the other programs to which they submitted or plan to submit an application for funding the entire project or certain project components, as well as highlight new or revised information in the CRISI Program application that differs from the application(s) for other federal financial assistance programs.
C. Eligibility Information
This section of the notice explains applicant eligibility, cost sharing and matching requirements, project eligibility, and project component operational independence. Applications that do not meet the requirements in this section will be ineligible for funding. Instructions for submitting eligibility information to FRA are detailed in Section D of this NOFO.
1. Eligible Applicants
The following entities are eligible applicants for all project types permitted under this notice:
a. A State;
b. A group of States;
c. An Interstate Compact;Start Printed Page 7531
d. A public agency or publicly chartered authority established by one or more States; 
e. A political subdivision of a State;
f. Amtrak or another Rail Carrier that provides Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation (as defined in 49 U.S.C. 24102);
g. A Class II railroad or Class III railroad (as those terms are defined in 49 U.S.C. 20102);
h. Any Rail Carrier or rail equipment manufacturer in partnership with at least one of the entities described in paragraph (a) through (e);
i. The Transportation Research Board together with any entity with which it contracts in the development of rail-related research, including cooperative research programs;
j. A University transportation center engaged in rail-related research; or
k. A non-profit labor organization representing a class or craft of employees of Rail Carriers or Rail Carrier contractors.
Joint applications must identify an eligible applicant as the lead applicant. The lead applicant serves as the primary point of contact for the application, and if selected, as the recipient of the CRISI Program grant award. Entities that are not eligible applicants may be included in an application as a project partner with one or more eligible applicants.
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
The Federal share of total costs for projects funded under this notice will not exceed 80 percent, though FRA will provide selection preference to applications where the proposed Federal share of total project costs is 50 percent or less. The estimated total cost of a project must be based on the best available information, including engineering studies, studies of economic feasibility, environmental analyses, and information on the expected use of equipment and/or facilities. Additionally, in preparing estimates of total project costs, applicants should refer to FRA's cost estimate guidance documentation, “Capital Cost Estimating: Guidance for Project Sponsors,” which is available at: https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0926.
The minimum 20 percent non-Federal match may be comprised of public sector (e.g., state or local) and/or private sector funding. FRA will not consider any Federal financial assistance, nor any non-Federal funds already expended (or otherwise encumbered) that do not comply with 2 CFR 200.458 toward the matching requirement. FRA is limiting the first 20 percent of the non-Federal match to cash contributions only. FRA will not accept “in-kind” contributions for the first 20 percent in matching funds. Eligible in-kind contributions may be accepted for any non-Federal matching beyond the first 20 percent. In-kind contributions, including the donation of services, materials, and equipment, may be credited as a project cost, in a uniform manner consistent with 2 CFR 200.306.
If Amtrak or another Rail Carrier is an applicant, whether acting on its own behalf or as part of a joint application, Amtrak or another Rail Carrier may use ticket and other non-Federal revenues generated from its operations and other sources as matching funds. Applicants must identify the source(s) of its matching and other funds, and must clearly and distinctly reflect these funds as part of the total project cost.
Before applying, applicants should carefully review the principles for cost sharing or matching in 2 CFR 200.306. See Section D(2)(a)(iii) for required application information on non-Federal match and Section E for further discussion of FRA's consideration of matching funds in the review and selection process.
a. Project Eligibility
The following rail projects that improve the safety, efficiency, and/or reliability of passenger and/or freight rail transportation systems are eligible for funding under this NOFO.
i. Deployment of railroad safety technology, including PTC and rail integrity inspection systems. Examples include: PTC components; integration of PTC with highway grade crossing systems; broken rail detection and warning systems; track intrusion systems; and electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking systems.
ii. A capital project as defined in 49 U.S.C. 24401(2) relating to Intercity Passenger Rail Service, except that such projects under this NOFO are not required to be in a State rail plan. Examples include: Acquisition, improvement, or rehabilitation of railroad equipment (locomotives and rolling stock); Railroad Infrastructure (grade crossings, catenary, signals, and PTC equipment); and rail facilities (yards, passenger stations, or maintenance and repair shops).
iii. A Capital Project necessary to address congestion challenges affecting rail service. Examples include: Projects addressing congestion that increase rail capacity; add or upgrade the condition, clearances, and capacity of rail mainlines; enhance capacity and service with less conflict between freight and intercity passenger rail; reduce delays and risks associated with highway-rail grade crossings; and provide more effective rail equipment.
iv. A Capital Project necessary to reduce congestion and facilitate ridership growth in Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation along heavily traveled rail corridors. Examples include: Projects addressing congestion that improve stations; increase rail capacity; reduce conflict between freight and intercity passenger rail; reduce delays and risks associated with highway-rail grade crossings; and provide more effective rail equipment.
v. A highway-rail grade crossing improvement project, including installation, repair, or improvement of grade separations, railroad crossing signals, gates, and related technologies; highway traffic signalization; highway lighting and crossing approach signage; roadway improvements such as medians or other barriers; railroad crossing panels and surfaces; and safety engineering improvements to reduce risk in quiet zones or potential quiet zones.
vi. A rail line Relocation and Improvement project. Examples include projects that: Improve the route or structure of a rail line by replacing degraded track; enhance/relocate railroad switching operations; add or lengthen passing tracks to increase capacity; improve interlockings; and relocate rail lines to alleviate congestion, and eliminate frequent rail service interruptions.
vii. A Capital Project to improve short-line or regional Railroad Infrastructure.
viii. The preparation of regional rail and corridor service development plans and corresponding environmental analyses. (See the examples under Track 1 and 2 below in Subsections C(3)(b)(i)-(ii) as they apply to regional and corridor rail Planning.)
ix. A project necessary to enhance multimodal connections or facilitate service integration between rail service and other modes, including between Intercity Rail Passenger Transportation and intercity bus service or commercial air service. Examples include: Intermodal transportation facilities projects that encourage joint scheduling, ticketing, and/or baggage handling; freight rail intermodal connections; and rail projects improving access to ports.
x. The development and implementation of a safety program or Start Printed Page 7532institute designed to improve rail safety. Examples include: Employee training; and public safety outreach and education.
b. Project Tracks for Eligible Projects
An applicant must submit an eligible project under one of the following four tracks: Track 1—Planning; Track 2—PE/NEPA; Track 3—FD/Construction; or Track 4—Safety Programs and Institutes. Applicants are not limited in the number of projects for which they seek funding. However, under this NOFO, applicants must submit only one application per project, and must designate only one track for that project. For example, an applicant cannot seek funding in the same application or multiple applications for both PE/NEPA and FD/Construction elements of the same project. FRA will only accept one project per application, with one exception: FRA will accept an application that proposes a combination of project elements such as track enhancements and grade crossing improvements if, and only if, (1) those project elements are contiguous or (2) those project elements result in greater improvement to rail safety, efficiency, and/or reliability if jointly implemented.
i. Track 1—Planning
Track 1 consists of eligible rail Planning projects. Examples include the technical analyses and associated environmental analyses that support the development of state rail plans, regional rail plans, and corridor service development plans, including: Identification of alternatives, rail network Planning, market analysis, travel demand forecasting, revenue forecasting, railroad system design, railroad operations analysis and simulation, equipment fleet Planning, station and access analysis, conceptual engineering and capital programming, operating and maintenance cost forecasting, capital replacement and renewal analysis, railroad industry governance and organization, and economic analysis.
ii. Track 2—PE/NEPA
Track 2 consists of eligible PE/NEPA projects. PE examples include: PE drawings and specifications (scale drawings at the 30% design level, including track geometry as appropriate); design criteria, schematics and/or track charts that support the development of PE; and work that can be funded in conjunction with developing PE, such as operations modeling, surveying, project work/management plans, preliminary cost estimates, and preliminary project schedules. NEPA examples include analysis and documentation related to a Tier 2 NEPA EIS, EA or CE. PE/NEPA projects funded under this track must result in sufficiently developed product(s) to support FD or Construction activities.
iii. Track 3—FD/Construction
Track 3 consists of eligible projects consisting of FD, Construction, and project implementation and deployment activities. Applicants must complete all necessary Planning, PE and NEPA requirements for projects submitted under this track. FD funded under this track must: Resolve remaining uncertainties or risks associated with changes to design scope; address procurement processes; and update and refine plans for financing the project or program to reflect accurately the expected year-of-expenditure costs and cash flow projections. Applicants selected for funding under the FD/Construction track must demonstrate the following to FRA's satisfaction prior to FRA's obligation of such funding:
(A) PE is completed for the proposed project, resulting in project designs that are reasonably expected to conform to all regulatory, safety, security, and other design requirements, including those under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
(B) NEPA is completed for the proposed project;
(C) Signed agreements with key project partners, including infrastructure-owning entities; and
(D) A project management plan is in-place for managing the implementation of the proposed project, including the management and mitigation of project risks.
FD examples include: Drawings at the 100% Design Level, interim design drawings that support development (e.g., drawings at the 60% Design Level), project work/project management plan, cost estimates, project schedules, and right-of-way acquisition and relocation plans. Construction examples include: Additions, improvements, replacements, renovations and/or repairs to track, bridge, station, rail yard, signal, and communication system infrastructure, and deployment of PTC or other railroad safety technology.
iv. Track 4—Safety Programs and Institutes (Non-Railroad Infrastructure)
Track 4 consists of projects for the development and implementation of safety programs or institutes designed to improve rail safety that clearly demonstrate the expected positive impact on rail safety. Sufficient detail must be provided on what the program or institute will accomplish, as well as the applicant's capability to achieve the proposed safety outcomes. Examples include: Initiatives for improving rail safety, such as training, public outreach, and education. Safety projects that involve eligible Planning, PE/NEPA, or FD/Construction should be submitted under Tracks 1-3, as appropriate.
c. Project Component Operational Independence
If an applicant requests funding for a project that is a component or set of components of a larger project, the project component(s) must be attainable with the award amount, together with other funds as necessary, obtain operational independence, and must comply with all eligibility requirements described in Section C.
In addition, the component(s) must be capable of independent analysis and decision making, as determined by FRA, under NEPA (i.e., have independent utility, connect logical termini, if applicable, and not restrict the consideration of alternatives for other reasonably foreseeable rail projects.)
d. Rural Project
FRA will consider a project to be in a Rural Area if all or the majority of the project (determined by geographic location(s) where the majority of the project funds will be spent) is located in a Rural Area. However, in the event FRA elects to fund a component of the project, then FRA will reexamine whether the project is in a Rural Area.
D. Application and Submission Information
Required documents for the application are outlined in the following paragraphs. Applicants must complete and submit all components of the application. See Section D(2) for the application checklist. FRA welcomes the submission of additional relevant supporting documentation, such as planning, engineering and design documentation, and letters of support from partnering organizations that will not count against the Project Narrative 25-page limit.
1. Address To Request Application Package
Applicants must submit all application materials in their entirety through www.Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT, on June 21, 2018. FRA reserves the right to modify this deadline. General information for submitting applications through Grants.gov can be found at: https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0270.
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For any supporting application materials that an applicant cannot submit via Grants.gov, such as oversized engineering drawings, an applicant may submit an original and two (2) copies to Ms. Amy Houser, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W36-412, Washington, DC 20590. However, due to delays caused by enhanced screening of mail delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, FRA advises applicants to use other means of conveyance (such as courier service) to assure timely receipt of materials before the application deadline. Additionally, if documents can be obtained online, explaining to FRA how to access files on a referenced website may also be sufficient.
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
FRA strongly advises applicants to read this section carefully. Applicants must submit all required information and components of the application package to be considered for funding. Additionally, applicants selected to receive funding must generally satisfy the grant readiness checklist requirements on https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0268 as a precondition to FRA issuing a grant award, as well as the requirements in 49 U.S.C. 24405 explained in part at https://www.fra.dot.gov/page/P0185.
Required documents for an application package are outlined in the checklist below.
i. Project Narrative (see D.2.a)
ii. Statement of Work (see D.2.b.i)
iii. Benefit-Cost Analysis (see D.2.b.ii)
iv. SF424—Application for Federal Assistance
v. Either: SF 424A—Budget Information for Non-Construction projects (required for Tracks 1, 2 and 4) or SF 424C—Budget Information for Construction (required for Track 3)
vi. Either: SF 424B—Assurances for Non-Construction projects (required for Tracks 1, 2 and 4) or SF 424D—Assurances for Construction (required for Track 3)
vii. FRA's Additional Assurances and Certifications
viii. SF LLL—Disclosure of Lobbying Activities
a. Project Narrative
This section describes the minimum content required in the Project Narrative of the grant application. The Project Narrative must follow the basic outline below to address the program requirements and assist evaluators in locating relevant information.
|I. Cover Page||See D.2.a.i.|
|II. Project Summary||See D.2.a.ii.|
|III. Project Funding||See D.2.a.iii.|
|IV. Applicant Eligibility||See D.2.a.iv.|
|V. Project Eligibility||See D.2.a.v.|
|VI. Detailed Project Description||See D.2.a.vi.|
|VII. Project Location||See D.2.a.vii.|
|VIII. Evaluation and Selection Criteria||See D.2.a.viii.|
|IX. Project Implementation and Management||See D.2.a.ix.|
|X. Planning Readiness||See D.2.a.x.|
|XI. Environmental Readiness||See D.2.a.xi.|
The above content must be provided in a narrative statement submitted by the applicant. The Project Narrative may not exceed 25 pages in length (excluding cover pages, table of contents, and supporting documentation). FRA will not review or consider for award applications with Project Narratives exceeding the 25-page limitation. If possible, applicants should submit supporting documents via website links rather than hard copies. If supporting documents are submitted, applicants must clearly identify the page number(s) of the relevant portion in the Project Narrative supporting documentation. The Project Narrative must adhere to the following outline.
i. Cover Page: Include a cover page that lists the following elements in a table:
|Lead applicant and co-applicant(s).|
|Project Track||1, 2, 3, or 4.|
|Will this project contribute to the Restoration or Initiation of Intercity Passenger Rail Service?||Yes/no.|
|Was a Federal grant application previously submitted for this project?||Yes/no.|
|If yes, state the name of the Federal grant program and title of the project in the previous application||Federal Grant Program:|
| ||Project Title:|
|If applicable, what stage of NEPA is the project in (e.g., EA, Tier 1 NEPA, Tier 2 NEPA, or CE)?||NEPA stage:|
|Is this a Rural Project? What percentage of the project cost is based in a Rural Area?||Yes/no. Percentage of total project cost:|
|City(ies), State(s) where the project is located.|
|Urbanized Area where the project is located.|
|Population of Urbanized Area.|
|Is the project currently programmed in the: State rail plan, State Freight Plan, TIP, STIP, MPO Long Range Transportation Plan, State Long Range Transportation Plan?||Yes/no. (If yes, please specify in which plans the project is currently programmed).|
ii. Project Summary: Provide a brief 4-6 sentence summary of the proposed project and what the project will entail. Include challenges the proposed project aims to address, and summarize the intended outcomes and anticipated benefits that will result from the proposed project.
iii. Project Funding: Indicate in table format the amount of Federal funding requested, the proposed non-Federal match, identifying contributions from the private sector if applicable, and total project cost. Describe the non-Federal funding arrangement. Include funding commitment letters outlining funding agreements, as attachments or in an appendix. Identify any specific project components that the applicant proposes for partial project funding. If all or a majority of a project is located in a Rural Area, identify the Rural Area(s) and estimated percentage of project costs that will be spent in the Rural Area. Identify any previously incurred costs, as well as other sources of Federal funds committed to the project and any pending Federal requests. Also, note if the requested Federal funding under this NOFO or other programs must be obligated or spent by a certain date due to dependencies or relationships with other Federal or non-Federal funding sources, related projects, law, or other factors. If applicable, provide the type and estimated value of any proposed in-kind contributions, and demonstrate how the in-kind contributions meet the requirements in 2 CFR 200.306.
Example Project Funding Table:Start Printed Page 7534
|Task No.||Task name/project component||Cost||Percentage of total cost|
|Total Project Cost.|
|Federal Funds Received from Previous Grant.|
|CRISI Federal Funding Request.|
|Portion of Non-Federal Funding from the Private Sector.|
|Portion of Total Project Costs Spent in a Rural Area.|
|Pending Federal Funding Requests.|
iv. Applicant Eligibility: Explain how the applicant meets the applicant eligibility criteria outlined in Section C of this notice, including references to creation or enabling legislation for public agencies and publicly chartered authorities established by one or more States. Joint applications must be signed by an authorized representative of each applicant and must include a description of the roles and responsibilities of each applicant, including budget and sub-recipient information showing how the applicants will share project costs.
v. Project Eligibility: Identify which project eligibility category the project is eligible under in Section C(3) of this notice, and explain how the project meets the project eligibility criteria.
vi. Detailed Project Description: Include a detailed project description that expands upon the brief project summary. This detailed description should provide, at a minimum, background on the challenges the project aims to address; the expected users and beneficiaries of the project, including all railroad operators; the specific components and elements of the project; and any other information the applicant deems necessary to justify the proposed project. If applicable, explain how the project will benefit communities in Rural Areas.
For all projects, applicants must provide information about proposed performance measures, as discussed in Section F(3)(c) and required in 2 CFR 200.301 and 49 U.S.C. 24407(f).
(A) Grade crossing information, if applicable: For any project that includes grade crossing components, cite specific DOT National Grade Crossing Inventory information, including the railroad that owns the infrastructure (or the crossing owner, if different from the railroad), the primary railroad operator, the DOT crossing inventory number, and the roadway at the crossing. Applicants can search for data to meet this requirement at the following link: http://safetydata.fra.dot.gov/OfficeofSafety/default.aspx.
(B) Heavily traveled rail corridor information, if applicable: For any project eligible under the eligibility category in Subsection C(3)(a)(iv), that reduces congestion and facilitates ridership growth in Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation, describe how the project is located on a heavily traveled rail corridor.
(C) PTC information, if applicable: For any project that includes deploying PTC, applicants must:
1. Document submission of a revised Positive Train Control Implementation Plan (PTCIP) to FRA as required by 49 U.S.C. 20157(a);
2. Be tenants on one or more host railroads whose host railroad(s) document submission of a revised PTCIP as required by 49 U.S.C. 20157(a); or
3. Document why the applicant is not required to submit a revised PTCIP as required by 49 U.S.C. 20157(a), and how the proposed project will assist in the deployment (i.e., installation and/or full implementation) of a PTC system required under 49 U.S.C. 20157.
vii. Project Location: Include geospatial data for the project, as well as a map of the project's location. On the map, include the Congressional districts and Rural Area boundaries, if applicable, in which the project will take place.
viii. Evaluation and Selection Criteria: Include a thorough discussion of how the proposed project meets all the evaluation criteria and selection criteria, as outlined in Section E of this notice. If an application does not sufficiently address the evaluation and selection criteria, it is unlikely to be a competitive application.
ix. Project Implementation and Management: Describe proposed project implementation and project management arrangements. Include descriptions of the expected arrangements for project contracting, contract oversight, change-order management, risk management, and conformance to Federal requirements for project progress reporting (see https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0274). Describe past experience in managing and overseeing similar projects.
x. Planning Readiness for Tracks 2 and 3 (PE/NEPA and FD/Construction) Projects: Provide information about the planning process that analyzed the investment needs and service objectives of the project. If applicable, cite sources of this information from a Service Development Plan, State or regional rail plan, or similar planning document where the project has been identified for solving a specific existing transportation problem, and makes the case for investing in the proposed solution.
xi. Environmental Readiness for Track 3 FD/Construction Projects: If the NEPA process is complete, an applicant should indicate the date of completion, and provide a website link or other reference to the documents demonstrating compliance with NEPA, which might include a final CE, Finding of No Significant Impact, or Record of Decision. If the NEPA process is not yet underway or is underway, but is 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 NEPA and related milestones. 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 information in accordance with applicable NEPA requirements. Additional information regarding FRA's environmental processes and requirements are located at https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L05286.
b. Additional Application Elements
Applicants must submit:
i. A Statement of Work (SOW) addressing the scope, schedule, and budget for the proposed project if it were selected for award. The SOW must contain sufficient detail so FRA, and the applicant, can understand the expected outcomes of the proposed work to be performed and monitor progress toward Start Printed Page 7535completing project tasks and deliverables during a prospective grant's period of performance. Applicants must use FRA's standard SOW template to be considered for award. The SOW template is located at https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L18661. When preparing the budget as part of the SOW, the total cost of a project must be based on the best available information as indicated in cited references that include engineering studies, studies of economic feasibility, environmental analyses, and information on the expected use of equipment or facilities.
ii. A Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA), as an appendix to the Project Narrative for each project submitted by an applicant. The BCA must demonstrate in economic terms the merits of investing in the proposed project. The BCA for Track 2—PE/NEPA projects should be for the underlying project, not the PE/NEPA work itself. The project narrative should summarize the project's benefits.
Benefits may apply to existing and new rail users, as well as users of other modes of transportation. In some cases, benefits may be applied to populations in the general vicinity of the project area. Improvements to multimodal connections and shared-use rail corridors may benefit all users involved. Benefits may be quantified for savings in safety costs, reduced costs from disruption of service, maintenance costs, reduced travel time, emissions reductions, and increases in capacity or ability to offer new types of freight or passenger services. Applicants may also describe other categories of benefits that are difficult to quantify such as noise reduction, environmental impact mitigation, improved quality of life, or reliability of travel times. All benefits claimed for the project must be clearly tied to the expected outcomes of the project. Please refer to the Benefit-Cost Analysis Guidance for TIGER and INFRA Applications prior to preparing a BCA at https://www.transportation.gov/office-policy/transportation-policy/benefit-cost-analysis-guidance. In addition, please also refer to the BCA FAQs on FRA's website for some rail specific examples of how to apply the BCA Guidance for TIGER and INFRA Applications to CRISI applications.
For Tracks 1 and 4—Applicants are required to document project benefits. Any subjective estimates of benefits and costs should be quantified whenever possible, and applicants should provide appropriate evidence to support their subjective estimates. Estimates of benefits should be presented in monetary terms whenever possible; if a monetary estimate is not possible, then a quantitative estimate (in physical, non-monetary terms, such as crash or employee casualty rates, ridership estimates, emissions levels, energy efficiency improvements, etc.) should be provided. At a minimum, qualitatively describe the project benefits.
iii. SF 424—Application for Federal Assistance;
iv. SF 424A—Budget Information for Non-Construction or SF 424C—Budget Information for Construction;
v. SF 424B—Assurances for Non-Construction or SF 424D—Assurances for Construction;
vi. FRA's Additional Assurances and Certifications; and
vii. SF LLL—Disclosure of Lobbying Activities.
Forms needed for the electronic application process are at www.Grants.gov.
c. Post-Selection Requirements
See subsection F(2) of this notice for post-selection requirements.
3. Unique Entity Identifier, System for Award Management (SAM), and Submission Instructions
To apply for funding through Grants.gov, applicants must be properly registered. Complete instructions on how to register and submit an application can be found at www.Grants.gov. Registering with Grants.gov is a one-time process; however, it can take up to several weeks for first-time registrants to receive confirmation and a user password. FRA recommends that applicants start the registration process as early as possible to prevent delays that may preclude submitting an application package by the application deadline. Applications will not be accepted after the due date. Delayed registration is not an acceptable justification for an application extension.
FRA may not make a grant award to an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) and SAM requirements. (Please note that if a Dun & Bradstreet DUNS number must be obtained or renewed, this may take a significant amount of time to complete.) Late applications that are the result of a failure to register or comply with Grants.gov applicant requirements in a timely manner will not be considered. If an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements by the submission deadline, the application will not be considered. To submit an application through Grants.gov, applicants must:
a. Obtain a DUNS Number
A DUNS number is required for Grants.gov registration. The Office of Management and Budget requires that all businesses and nonprofit applicants for Federal funds include a DUNS number in their applications for a new award or renewal of an existing award. A DUNS number is a unique nine-digit sequence recognized as the universal standard for the government in identifying and keeping track of entities receiving Federal funds. The identifier is used for tracking purposes and to validate address and point of contact information for Federal assistance applicants, recipients, and sub-recipients. The DUNS number will be used throughout the grant life cycle. Obtaining a DUNS number is a free, one-time activity. Applicants may obtain a DUNS number by calling 1-866-705-5711 or by applying online at http://www.dnb.com/us.
b. Register With the SAM at www.SAM.gov
All applicants for Federal financial assistance must maintain current registrations in the SAM database. An applicant must be registered in SAM to successfully register in Grants.gov. The SAM database is the repository for standard information about Federal financial assistance applicants, recipients, and sub recipients. Organizations that have previously submitted applications via Grants.gov are already registered with SAM, as it is a requirement for Grants.gov registration. Please note, however, that applicants must update or renew their SAM registration at least once per year to maintain an active status. Therefore, it is critical to check registration status well in advance of the application deadline. If an applicant is selected for an award, the applicant must maintain an active SAM registration with current information throughout the period of the award. Information about SAM registration procedures is available at www.sam.gov.
c. Create a Grants.gov Username and Password
Applicants must complete an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) profile on www.Grants.gov and create a username and password. Applicants must use the organization's DUNS number to complete this step. Additional information about the registration process is available at: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/organization-registration.html.
Start Printed Page 7536
d. Acquire Authorization for Your AOR From the E-Business Point of Contact (E-Biz POC)
The E-Biz POC at the applicant's organization must respond to the registration email from Grants.gov and login at www.Grants.gov to authorize the applicant as the AOR. Please note there can be more than one AOR for an organization.
e. Submit an Application Addressing All Requirements Outlined in This NOFO
If an applicant experiences difficulties at any point during this process, please call the Grants.gov Customer Center Hotline at 1-800-518-4726, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (closed on Federal holidays). For information and instructions on each of these processes, please see instructions at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/apply-for-grants.html.
Please use generally accepted formats such as .pdf, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx and .ppt, when uploading attachments. While applicants may embed picture files, such as .jpg, .gif, and .bmp, in document files, applicants should not submit attachments in these formats. Additionally, the following formats will not be accepted: .com, .bat, .exe, .vbs, .cfg, .dat, .db, .dbf, .dll, .ini, .log, .ora, .sys, and .zip.
4. Submission Dates and Times
Applicants must submit complete applications to www.Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT, June 21, 2018. FRA reviews www.Grants.gov information on dates/times of applications submitted to determine timeliness of submissions. Late applications will be neither reviewed nor considered. Delayed registration is not an acceptable reason for late submission. In order to apply for funding under this announcement, all applicants are expected to be registered as an organization with Grants.gov. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early to ensure all materials are received before this deadline.
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 Grants.gov registration process before the deadline; (2) failure to follow Grants.gov instructions on how to register and apply as posted on its website; (3) failure to follow all instructions in this NOFO; and (4) technical issues experienced with the applicant's computer or information technology environment.
5. Intergovernmental Review
Executive Order 12372 requires applicants from State and local units of government or other organizations providing services within a State to submit a copy of the application to the State Single Point of Contact (SPOC), if one exists, and if this program has been selected for review by the State. Applicants must contact their State SPOC to determine if the program has been selected for State review.
6. Funding Restrictions
FRA is prohibited in 49 U.S.C. 24405(f) 
from providing CRISI grants for commuter rail passenger transportation (as defined in 49 U.S.C. 24102(3)). FRA's interpretation of this restriction is informed by the language in 49 U.S.C. 24407. FRA's primary intent in funding passenger rail projects will be to make reasonable investments in intercity passenger rail transportation. Such projects may be located on shared corridors where commuter rail passenger transportation and/or freight rail also benefit from the project.
FRA will only approve pre-award costs consistent with 2 CFR 200.458. Under 2 CFR 200.458, grant recipients must seek written approval from FRA for pre-award activities to be eligible for reimbursement under the cooperative agreement. Activities initiated prior to the execution of a cooperative agreement or without FRA's written approval may not be eligible for reimbursement or included as a grantee's matching contribution.
E. Application Review Information
a. Eligibility and Completeness Review
FRA will first screen each application for applicant and project eligibility (eligibility requirements are outlined in Section C of this notice), completeness (application documentation and submission requirements are outlined in Section D of this notice), and the 20 percent minimum match in determining whether the application is eligible.
FRA will then consider the applicant's past performance in developing and delivering similar projects and previous financial contributions, and previous competitive grant technical evaluation ratings that the proposed project received under previous competitive grant programs administered by the DOT if applicable.
b. Evaluation Criteria
FRA subject-matter experts will evaluate all eligible and complete applications by Track using the evaluation criteria outlined in this section to determine project benefits and technical merit.
i. Project Benefits:
FRA will evaluate the Benefit-Cost Analysis of the proposed project for the anticipated private and public benefits relative to the costs of the proposed project and the summary of benefits provided in response to subsection D(2)(a)(ii) including—
(A) Effects on system and service performance;
(B) Effects on safety, competitiveness, reliability, trip or transit time, and resilience;
(C) Efficiencies from improved integration with other modes; and
(D) Ability to meet existing or anticipated demand.
ii. Technical Merit:
FRA will evaluate application information for the degree to which—
(A) The tasks and subtasks outlined in the SOW are appropriate to achieve the expected outcomes of the proposed project.
(B) Applications indicate strong project readiness and meet requirements under the project track designated by the applicant.
(C) The technical qualifications and experience of key personnel proposed to lead and perform the technical efforts, and the qualifications of the primary and supporting organizations to fully and successfully execute the proposed project within the proposed timeframe and budget are demonstrated.
(D) The proposed project's business plan considers potential private sector participation in the financing, construction, or operation of the proposed project.
(E) The applicant has, or will have the legal, financial, and technical capacity to carry out the proposed project; satisfactory continuing control over the use of the equipment or facilities; and the capability and willingness to maintain the equipment or facilities.
(F) The proposed project is consistent with planning guidance and documents set forth by DOT, including those required by law or State rail plans developed under Title 49, United State Code, Chapter 227.
c. Selection Criteria
In addition to the eligibility and completeness review and the evaluation criteria outlined in this subsection, the FRA Administrator will select projects applying the following selection criteria:Start Printed Page 7537
i. FRA will give preference to projects for which the:
(A) Proposed Federal share of total project costs is 50 percent or less; and
(B) Net benefits of the grant funds will be maximized considering the Benefit-Cost Analysis, including anticipated private and public benefits relative to the costs of the proposed project, and factoring in the other considerations in 49 U.S.C. 24407 (e).
ii. After applying the above preferences, the FRA Administrator will take into account the following key Departmental objectives:
(A) Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level;
(B) Leveraging Federal funding to attract other, non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment, as well as accounting for the life-cycle costs of the project;
(C) Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and,
(D) Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants.
2. Review and Selection Process
FRA will conduct a three-part application review process, as follows:
a. Screen applications for completeness and eligibility;
b. Evaluate eligible applications (completed by technical panels applying the evaluation criteria); and
c. Select projects for funding (completed by the FRA Administrator applying the selection criteria).
F. Federal Award Administration Information
1. Federal Award Notice
FRA will announce applications selected for funding in a press release and on the FRA website after the application review period. FRA will contact applicants with successful applications after announcement with information and instructions about the award process. This notification is not an authorization to begin proposed project activities. A formal cooperative agreement or grant agreement signed by both the grantee and the FRA, including an approved scope, schedule, and budget, is required before the award is considered complete.
For all projects, obligation occurs when a selected applicant and FRA enter a written project specific cooperative agreement or grant agreement and is after the applicant has satisfied applicable requirements. For Track 2 PE/NEPA projects, these requirements may include transportation planning. For Track 3 FD/Construction projects, these requirements may include transportation planning, PE and environmental reviews.
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Due to funding limitations, projects that are selected for funding may receive less than the amount originally requested. In those cases, applicants must be able to demonstrate the proposed projects are still viable and can be completed with the amount awarded.
Grantees and entities receiving funding from the grantee, must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Examples of administrative and national policy requirements that grantees must follow include: 2 CFR part 200; procurement standards; compliance with Federal civil rights laws and regulations; requirements for disadvantaged business enterprises, debarment and suspension requirements, and drug-free workplace requirements; FRA's and OMB's Assurances and Certifications; Americans with Disabilities Act; safety requirements including those applicable to PTC projects,
NEPA, environmental justice requirements, performance measures under 49 U.S.C. 24407(f), and the requirements in 49 U.S.C. 24405 including the Buy America requirements.
See an example of standard terms and conditions for FRA grant awards at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/14426.
a. Reporting Matters Related to Integrity and Performance
Before making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000 (see 2 CFR 200.88 Simplified Acquisition Threshold), FRA will 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)). See 41 U.S.C. 2313.
An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM.
FRA will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 2 CFR 200.205.
b. Progress Reporting on Grant Activity
Each applicant selected for a grant will be required to comply with all standard FRA reporting requirements, including quarterly progress reports, quarterly Federal financial reports, and interim and final performance reports, as well as all applicable auditing, monitoring and close out requirements. Reports may be submitted electronically.
c. Performance Reporting
Each applicant selected for funding must collect information and report on the project's performance using measures mutually agreed upon by FRA and the grantee to assess progress in achieving strategic goals and objectives. Examples of some rail performance measures are listed in the table below. The applicable measure(s) will depend upon the type of project. Applicants requesting funding for the acquisition of rolling stock must integrate at least one equipment/rolling stock performance measure, consistent with the grantee's application materials and program goals.Start Printed Page 7538
|Rail measures||Unit measured||Temporal||Primary strategic
|Slow Order Miles||Miles||Annual||State of Good Repair||Safety||The number of miles per year within the project area that have temporary speed restrictions (“slow orders”) imposed due to track condition. This is an indicator of the overall condition of track. This measure can be used for projects to rehabilitate sections of a rail line since the rehabilitation should eliminate, or at least reduce the slow orders upon project completion.|
|Gross Ton||Gross Tons||Annual||Economic Competitiveness||State of Good Repair||The annual gross tonnage of freight shipped in the project area. Gross tons include freight cargo minus tare weight of the rail cars. This measure the volume of freight a railroad ships in a year. This measure can be useful for projects that are anticipated to increase freight shipments.|
|Rail Track Grade Separation||Count||Annual||Economic Competitiveness||Safety||The number of annual automobile crossings that are eliminated at an at-grade crossing as a result of a new grade separation.|
|Passenger Counts||Count||Annual||Economic Competitiveness||State of Good Repair||Count of the annual passenger boardings and alightings at stations within the project area.|
|Travel Time||Time/Trip||Annual||Economic Competitiveness||Quality of Life||Point-to-point travel times between pre-determined station stops within the project area. This measure demonstrates how track improvements and other upgrades improve operations on a rail line. It also helps make sure the railroad is maintaining the line after project completion.|
|Track Weight Capacity||Yes/No||One Time||State of Good Repair||Economic Competitiveness||If a project is upgrading a line to accommodate heavier rail cars (typically an increase from 263,000 lb. rail cars to 286,000 lb. rail cars.)|
|Track Miles||Miles||One Time||State of Good Repair||Economic Competitiveness||The number of track miles that exist within the project area. This measure can be beneficial for projects building sidings or sections of additional main line track on a railroad.|
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts
For further information regarding this notice and the grants program, please contact Ms. Amy Houser, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W36-412, Washington, DC 20590; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 202-493-0303, or Ms. Frances Bourne, Office of Policy and Planning, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W38-207, Washington, DC 20590; email: email@example.com; phone: 202-493-6366.
End Supplemental Information
Issued in Washington, DC, on February 15, 2018.
Director, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration.
[FR Doc. 2018-03534 Filed 2-20-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P