South West Transit Association
Legislative Alert: U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx Releases Revised GROW AMERICA Act
On Monday, March 30th, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled a revised version of the GROW AMERICA Act, the Administration’s proposal for a multi-year surface transportation bill. As newly proposed, the GROW AMERICA Act would authorize a strong funding level of $478 billion over six years (as opposed to $302 billion over four years authorized in the previous version). As in the previous version, the Administration recommends that highway, transit, and passenger rail programs be funded through a restructured Transportation Trust Fund. Funding for that Trust Fund would be a combination of current Highway Trust Fund revenue supplemented by a 14 percent transition tax on the approximate $2 trillion of foreign earnings that U.S. companies have accumulated overseas (“repatriation”).
The new version of GROW AMERICA authorizes $115 billion for public transportation programs, up from the $72 billion in the previous version. The new GROW AMERICA Act again includes increases to address the bus and rail state of good repair backlog, and would provide substantial investment in expanded transit capacity. Additionally, the bill would provide $28.5 billion over the six years for high performance and passenger rail programs with a focus on improving the connections between key regional cities throughout the country.
As in the original GROW AMERICA Act, the Administration proposes creation of two new programs, the Rapid Growth Area Transit Program, and the Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) Grants. The Rapid Growth Area Transit Program initiative would fund, through a discretionary grant program, bus rapid transit projects in urbanized areas that have experienced significant population growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. This program would be supplemental to the existing Capital Investment Grants (New Starts) Program, which would also see a significant increase under the Administration’s proposal.
The FAST program is a TIGER-like program that would be administered by the Secretary of Transportation and funded at a total of $6 billion over six years with funds derived equally from the Highway and Mass Transit Accounts of the Transportation Trust Fund and encompassing wide, multi-modal project eligibility. The aim of FAST is “to incentivize the adoption of bold, innovative strategies and best practices in transportation” for projects of $50 million and above. FAST would fund up to 100 percent of costs for the following types of projects: highway, bridge, public transportation, passenger and freight rail, maritime port infrastructure, and domestic short sea shipping. Additionally, one quarter of FAST funds would be distributed to MPOs designated by US DOT as high-performing under FAST’s Metropolitan Mobility program.
The GROW America Act also authorizes $7.5 billion over six years for the discretionary TIGER program managed at the USDOT Office of the Secretary. The program would be funded through the Multimodal Account of the new Transportation Trust Fund.
The Administration’s proposal again calls for increasing Buy America domestic content requirements for public transportation rolling stock. In FY 2016, it would require more than 60 percent domestic content, 70 percent in 2017, 80 percent in 2018 and 90 percent in 2019. By 2020, 100 percent of the cost of components and subcomponents for rolling stock, including rolling stock prototypes, would have to be produced in the United States. Moreover, rolling stock, including train control, communication, traction power equipment, and rolling stock prototypes, are subject to a newly established increase in the cost of components and subcomponents. GROW AMERICA also includes language to allow a grant recipient to advertise and award a contract for construction containing requirements for the employment of individuals residing in or adjacent to any of the areas in which the work to be performed is for construction work required under the contract in some limited circumstances.
For the passenger rail programs, the GROW AMERICA Act proposes $28.55 billion for grant programs aimed at enhancing the nation’s passenger rail network over six years. Funds would be authorized under the Rail Account of the new Transportation Trust Fund, and grants would be allocated under two main programmatic groupings: the Current Passenger Rail Service Program ($14.1 billion) and the Rail Service Improvement Program ($14.45 billion).
The Current Passenger Rail Service Program supports primarily the Northeast Corridor and Amtrak programs, but also provides funding for ADA compliance and meeting state passenger rail goals set under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA).
Within the Rail Service Improvement Program, the proposal would authorize a total of $3.05 billion over six years required to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on the nation’s commuter railroads, with $825 million provided in FY 2016. The funds are provided beyond the current implementation deadline ofDecember 31, 2015.
An APTA table comparing Enacted Funds from FY 2015 and GROW AMERICA Act Proposed Authorizations is available at the following link: APTA Table
For further detail, a section-by-section summary is available at the following link: GROW AMERICA Act (Summary)
The full bill text is available at the following link: GROW AMERICA Act (Bill Text)
U.S. DOT Announces seventh Round of TIGER Grants
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that $500 million will be made available for transportation projects across the country under a seventh round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program.
The Pre-Application deadline is 11:59 E.D.T. on May 4, 2015.
The Final application deadline is 11:59 E.D.T. on June 5, 2015.
For more information on the 2015 TIGER 2015 Grant program, please visit:
For the 2015 TIGER round, DOT is offering special topic webinars that delve into various aspects of the application process.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 1:00-3:00 pm: How to Compete for TIGER Discretionary Grants
Friday, April 10, 2015 1:00-3:00 pm: How to Compete for Non-Traditional Applicant
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 1:00-3:00 pm: How to Compete for TIGER Discretionary Grants
Thursday, April 23, 2015 1:00-3:00 pm: Preparing a Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA)
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 1:00-3:00 pm: How to Compete for TIGER Discretionary Grants
Registration links will be available on this page soon: http://www.dot.gov/tiger/outreach
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