Posted on April 17, 2009 4:38 AM
CMAP Economic Recovery Update, 3/17/09
FHWA recap. CMAP staff member Holly Ostdick attended last week's Federal Highway Administration webinar for local officials. Please refer to FHWA's questions and answers document. Among the things FHWA staff said in the webinar:
ARRA funds. FHWA's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding is from the General Fund, not the Highway Trust Fund. For what FHWA calls "locals," it includes $26.6 billion, which gets allocated to states for local distribution.
- Funds can be obligated until September 30, 2010 (end of the federal fiscal year), and ultimately the funds expire September 30, 2015 (end of FFY15).
- 30 percent of funds are to be sub-allocated per STP requirements.
- ARRA funds cannot be used for advanced construction or for reimbursement on projects already completed.
- Eligible uses are the same as for the Surface Transportation Program (STP).
- Projects must follow all federal requirements, which includes being in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), and the Federal Aid system.
- Priority should be given to projects that can be completed within three years and in an Economically Distressed area. FHWA has GIS data of what is considered Economically Distressed areas.
Reporting. In the project agreements between the State and FHWA, the recipient will be required to agree to the terms and conditions of using this money, which includes additional reporting (see "Oberstar memo" item below). Staff time to fulfill reporting requirements will not be eligible for ARRA funds unless directly billable to a specific project.
Oberstar memo. Regarding Rep. Oberstar's memo to MPOs, FHWA staff said they have no involvement in the reporting requirements assigned by the House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman, so all questions should be directed to committee staff.
Redistribution. Unspent funds under the "use it or lose it" provision will be redistributed starting at 11:59 a.m. EST on June 30, 2009. The first 50 percent of funds, again, must be spent within 120 days. The second half of funds (which, again, must be spent within one year) will be redistributed starting on March 31, 2010. If receiving redistributed funds they will have until the end of the FFY10 (9/30/2010) to obligate it. There is no requirement of sub-allocation when redistribution occurs.
Discretionary funding. Regarding the $1.5 billion "discretionary funding," selection criteria are being developed and should be available within a couple of months. Projects will be selected approximately within a year. The program will be administered by USDOT, with priority given to projects that also use other funds and that can be completed within three years.
This webinar and the remaining ones will be archived at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery.
Issue area updates. The CMAP staff have compiled the following status reports:
Housing. The office Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently starting posting weekly updates on the HUD Recovery Website: http://www.hud.gov/recovery/. The reports deliver weekly information on HUD program apportionments, and when these funds will be obligated and disbursed by each program. According to these reports, HUD will obligate 100 percent of the formula-based funds for the Public Housing Capital Fund and the Native American Housing Block Grants by March 19. CMAP will continue tracking these reports to determine when housing funds are scheduled for both obligation and disbursement.
Energy. As expected, the state of Illinois will receive nearly $344 million in Weatherization Assistance Funding and the State Energy Program. This is described in more detail at http://www.energy.gov/7005.htm and http://www.energy.gov/illinois.htm.
U.S. EPA has created a guide for local governments to understand the renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities available through the ARRA. The guide is online at http://www.epa.gov/solar/documents/local_guide_to_arra.pdf.
ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability has a web page dedicated to understanding the best way to take advantage of the ARRA funds, including a preparation checklist: http://www.icleiusa.org/action-center/financing-staffing/stimulus-funding-updates.
U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR office is sponsoring a repeat session of a popular webcast "Make the Most of Your Energy Efficiency Stimulus Funding" on Wednesday, March 18 at noon central time and again at 2:00 p.m. They are also hosting an upcoming webcast "Maximize Stimulus Funding with Performance Contracting and ENERGY STAR" on Tuesday, March 24 at noon central time. For more information, and to register for either of these, please visit https://energystar.webex.com/mw0305l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=energystar&service=7.
Environment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking proposals for coastal habitat restoration projects under ARRA including wetlands restoration, dam removal, and other projects. Up to $170 million may be available for coastal and marine habitat restoration, with typical awards expected to range between $1.5 million and $10 million. Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education, non-profits, commercial (for profit) organizations, U.S. Territories, and state, local and Indian tribal governments. Proposals are due by April 6, 2009. For more information, visit http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/recovery.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is holding a signup for floodplain easements, funded by ARRA under the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. Use of this easement option will support areas repeatedly damaged by floods. Sign-up began Monday, March 9 and runs through March 27, 2009. The State of Illinois has been divided into three regions, each with a specific payment rate cap. NRCS' goal is to have all floodplain easements acquired and restored within 12 to 18 months. Contact information for local service centers is as follows: McHenry (815-338-0099), Lake and Cook (847-608-8165), Kane and DuPage (630-584-7960), Will and Cook (815-485-0068), Kendall (630-553-5821).
State ARRA programs. The State of Illinois recovery website has a list of state programs that will receive ARRA funds.
USDOT blog. Secretary LaHood has a blog called "the Fast Lane" that is being updated frequently.
News links. Among the related coverage:
- A story in the Kansas City Star includes speculation that the U.S. Department of Energy will use ARRA funds to resuscitate the FutureGen carbon-capture project that had been slated for construction in Mattoon. This follows news last week that DOE had made a significant accounting error in earlier shelving the project.
- WBEZ aired a segment about how difficult it can be to track the stimulus spending.
- USA Today describes the possible rebirth of inter-city rail that's being prompted by the ARRA.