FTA releases FY20 funding recommendations for CIG program

March 18, 2019
The annual report, meant to aid in the appropriations process, includes more than $995 million for projects with existing FFGAs and more than $494 million for projects that may become ready for the program.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released its Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program.

The recommendations are provided to inform the appropriations process for the fiscal year. Projects in the program are assigned a rating based on a set of statutorily defined project justification and local financial commitment criteria. The rating scale range is “High,” “Medium-High,” “Medium,” “Medium-Low” and “Low.” Projects must have a rating of above “Medium” to be eligible for CIG funding.

The report includes more than $995 million for 10 projects with existing Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGAs) and more than $494 million for projects that may become ready for CIG funding. The nearly $1.5 billion in recommended funding is based off the FY20 Presidential Budget Proposal, which was released in early March.

Out of the 53 projects currently listed in the CIG program, four received ratings under the “Medium” threshold, which makes them ineligible for federal funding. The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s plan to restore a historic streetcar in downtown L.A. and the Capital Area Transportation Authority’s proposed bus rapid transit line in Lansing, Mich., were both rated “Medium-Low.”

Additionally, both the Portal Bridge and Hudson Tunnels projects were rated “Medium-Low.” A more in-depth description of each of the project’s ratings shows that the Portal Bridge carried a “Medium-Low” rating on both its Local Financial Commitment Rating and its Project Financial Plan. The Hudson Tunnels project, which is in New Starts Project Development, earned a “Medium-High” rating on both its Land Use Rating and Economic Development Rating, but “Low” on its Local Financial Commitment Rating and its Project Financial Plan.

While the Portal Bridge project’s current rating makes it ineligible for CIG funds, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said on March 15 that the U.S. Coast Guard will implement marine traffic restrictions on the Hackensack River to reduce the risk of the bridge experiencing a failure, which would then impact commuters between New York and New Jersey.

The senator issued a fiery response to the rating claiming President Trump was “playing politics with a transportation ticking time bomb.”

Sen. Menendez continued, “We will get Gateway done. The commitment and resolve from our federal delegation and local partners are unwavering. But we can get it done faster, cheaper and better for everyone with this President on board.”

However, a single rating does not dictate a project’s ultimate outcome.

As FTA notes in the report, “Projects can be expected to continue to change as they progress through the CIG process. Hence, the ratings included in this Annual Report should not be construed as statements about the ultimate success or failure of those projects. Rather, the ratings provide assessments of the projects’ strengths and weaknesses at the point in time when they were rated.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.