The FY 2022 CRISI Grant Notice of Funding Opportunity has been published and the program is now open for applications. Posted in the Federal Register on September 2, 2022, the Application Deadline is ninety days from the date of publication, which is December 1, 2022. With a historic $1.4 billion available for projects this year – over four times the resources in 2021 – we encourage every member to consider an application. If you need assistance with applications, please contact one of ASLRRA’s Grant Writing Preferred Providers.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently hosted an overview on September 15, 2022 covering How To Apply and Best Practices in the areas of: Project Narrative, Statement of Work, Benefit-Cost Analysis and Environmental Readiness. Click here to access the presentation materials and a recording of the event.
ASLRRA Members (when logged in) can click the titles of each of the sections below, or to the left, for additional, detailed information.
ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar Library features grant webinar recordings, including:
FRA has also hosted webinars, the most recent CRISI webinar is here.
ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program Preferred Providers offer grant writing services.
Before pursuing funding through CRISI, the applying entity must be properly registered in two federal systems: The System for Award Management (SAM) and grants.gov. Grant applicants must first be set up in SAM to register in grants.gov and all recipients of federal funds must be registered in SAM. All application materials are submitted through grants.gov.
Some short line projects seeking federal CRISI funds will involve getting the permission of outside parties, so identifying and working on these tasks early in the grant application writing process is important.
A common scenario for short lines is when a Class I freight railroad must approve the proposed grant-funded project. Short lines should review their lease agreements closely, as leases can include clauses specific to pursuit and use of public grant funding. Short lines should also presume that Class I permission will be required if the proposed project could affect the Class I’s property or operations. The fact that a Class I won’t contribute any monetary resources to the proposed funded project does not eliminate the need to meet all legal and operational coordination requirements.
Consider finding regional advocates, such as customers, businesses, or elected officials, who could help write letters of support touting your project’s importance to FRA.
FRA guidance directs grant applicants to templates for three required attachments for their capital grant programs: the Statement of work (SOW), Schedule, and Budget.
These templates have sometimes been confusing to CRISI applicants because they are provided in the form of drafts of what will become the starting point for attachments to a formal federal grant agreement if the application is successful.
Applicants should use these templates as requested by FRA, ideally without modifying the language and structure of the documents as provided. Applicants should insert the requested data where indicated, and as indicated.
Applicants are required to provide three foundational documents as attachments: a project statement of work (SOW); a schedule; and a budget. Completing these three documents at the beginning of the grant writing process reduces the risk of inconsistent information across these three documents. Preparing documents early will also assist with the preparation of other required application elements.
Effective communication of the transportation analysis supporting a CRISI application is fundamental to making the case for the project. Most CRISI applications will have a forecast for traffic of some type, often in the form of revenue carloads transported over twenty years, sometimes more, from the expected completion of construction.
It is surprisingly easy to provide an excellent data-driven transportation and benefit-cost analysis in the application attachments but neglect to communicate that information well in the grant application narrative. The narrative document must bring forward all important data and findings, including at least summary versions of traffic forecasts and scenarios.
ASLRRA thanks Blank Rome Government Relations Senior Advisor Richard Sherman for the information provided on these pages.
The FRA is holding Office Hours webinars every Thursday through Sept. 8, focusing on a different aspect of the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) during each session. While these webinars are focused on RCE grants, the information discussed could be insightful for railroads planning to apply for other grants, like the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. Following the webinar, they are recorded for later viewing.
Click the links below to register for the FRA’s remaining Office Hours sessions. Each webinar requires a separate registration.
USDA: Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program Grants
Approximately $100 million in grants have been made available to eligible entities to expand the sales and use of renewable fuels through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP).
The program includes grants of up to $5 million with cost-sharing of as much as half of all total project costs. Funding can be used to build and retrofit biofuel-related infrastructure such as pumps, dispensers and storage tanks. Eligible entities include rail fueling facilities.