Up to $311.8 million will be available for freight and passenger rail projects, with about 25% of that funding reserved for rural projects. About $45 million of that $311.8 million will be available for projects that involve acquiring rights-of-way, track or track structures to support developing new intercity passenger rail service routes.
“We’re committed to addressing the unmet transportation needs of rural areas, which face unique challenges in safety, infrastructure condition, and passenger and freight usage,” said FRA Administrator Ron Batory. “I encourage all eligible parties to take full advantage of this funding opportunity.”
The projects should address any of the following: congestion challenges; highway-rail grade crossings; upgrades to short line or regional railroad infrastructure; the relocation of rail lines; improvements to intercity passenger rail capital assets; and the deployment of railroad safety technology.
In considering each application, FRA will take into account factors such as enhancing economic vitality; leveraging federal funding; adopting life-cycle accounting; using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grantees accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes, FRA said. The agency will give preference to projects where the proposed federal share of total costs does not exceed 50%.
FRA may also consider geographic diversity; diversity in the size of the systems receiving funding; the applicant’s receipt of other competitive awards; and projects located in, or that support transportation service in, qualified opportunity zones, the agency said.
Applications will be due on June 19, which is 60 days after FRA’s notice was published in the Federal Register. For more information about the CRISI program, go to FRA’s webpage on competitive discretionary grant programs.
Funding for the CRISI program is through the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, and FRA is authorized to provide this funding under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, also known as FAST Act.