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Bureau of Rail Freight

Rail Freight Assistance Program

Program Purpose
The Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP) is an annual grant program that provides financial assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure.  The intent of the Program is to (1) preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible, and (2) preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service.

Program Administration and Procedures
The Bureau of Rail Freight is charged with the administration of monies allocated from the Commonwealth’s General Fund to the RFAP. The current program allocation is $10.5 Million.

Financial assistance is available on a matching grant basis to railroad companies, transportation organizations, rail users, municipalities and municipal authorities whose proposals, at a minimum, meet certain project eligibility requirements.

Applications must be submitted electronically through “dotGrants” by the deadline established by the Bureau.

Due to funding constraints, individual project selection is very competitive.  All proposed projects receive a site evaluation to confirm the validity of the project and estimated costs. During the performance of the site evaluation, Bureau staff may reduce the scope of the project and/or the estimated costs. Upon completion of the site evaluation, all projects are scored and ranked for selection of funding based on the scoring criteria reflecting the intent of the program and the initiatives of the Commonwealth. Once the projects are selected, the Bureau presents its selections to the Program Management Committee (PMC) and the State Transportation Commission (STC) for approval. Following approval by the STC, all applicants are notified of their funding status and must enter into a grant agreement with the Commonwealth in order to receive project funding. 

Reimbursement is on an invoice basis as project work is completed.  A ten percent retainer is held until the Department’s final project inspection is performed.

If an application is selected for funding, the applicant must agree to use the state funded project facilities for rail service and achieve 50% of estimated carloadings for a period of at least five years from the date of the completion of the project.  Pro-rata refunds may be required if the car loadings are not achieved or the facility is not use for rail service.

All funded projects are subject to Prevailing Wage Requirements.

 No project shall begin prior to the Bureau's site evaluation and without the Bureau's written approval.
Eligible Projects and Funding Limits
Maintenance Projects: Consist of the replacement of ties, rails, plates, turnouts, and other track materials, structural materials and additional ballast to be sufficient functionally to restore, improve, or maintain an existing railroad line to the level necessary for safe operation or use and has an estimated useful life of at least five years but does not include acquisition cost of land, rights of land, buildings, or building materials to construct a new building.

Construction Projects: Consist of the cost to purchase ties, rail, ballast, other track materials, and structural materials in sufficient quantity to construct a railroad line (where none exists) or a rail associated facility to a level necessary for the operation or use, and has an estimated useful life in excess of five years, but does not include acquisition cost of land, rights of land, buildings, or building materials to construct a new building.

Combination Maintenance/Construction Projects: This is a combination maintenance/construction project as described previously.

The maximum state funding for any project is $700,000, or no greater than 70% of the actual total project cost, whichever is less. The funding for the construction portion of any project can not exceed $250,000.

The final grant award will be based upon actual bid costs or agreed upon prices if work is to be performed by your own labor forces.

Capital Budget Transportation Assistance Program

Program Purpose
The Capital Budget Transportation Assistance Program is an annual grant program that provides financial assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure. The intent of the Program is to (1) preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible, and (2) preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service. The current allocation for rail freight grants is $20.0 Million. Applicants must have a line item authorized in a current Capital Budget Act to be eligible to apply for funding. Capital Budget financial assistance is available on a matching grant basis with the state share not to exceed 70% of the actual total eligible project cost and the amount authorized by the Act containing the line item. Applications must be submitted electronically through “dotGrants” by the deadline established by the Bureau. Due to funding constraints, individual project selection is very competitive. Applications are administratively reviewed by the Bureau of Rail Freight to determine eligibility and are evaluated to determine the overall benefits of the proposed project to the Commonwealth. The Bureau presents its project selection recommendations to the Department’s Program Management Committee (PMC) and the Governor’s Office for approval. Applicants are notified of their funding status upon approval by the Governor’s Office and must enter into a grant agreement with the Commonwealth in order to receive project funding. Reimbursement is on an invoice basis as project work is completed. A ten percent retainer is held until the Department’s final project inspection is performed. If an application is selected for funding, the applicant must agree to use the state funded project facilities for rail service and achieve 50% of estimated carloadings for a period of at least five years from the date of the completion of the project. Pro-rata refunds may be required if the car loadings are not achieved or the facility is not use for rail service. All funded projects are subject to Prevailing Wage Requirements.

Eligible Projects and Funding Limits

Project eligibility is generally the same for Capital Budget as for the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP) as listed above.  In addition to construction and maintenance projects, land acquisition projects are also eligible. 

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