top of page

Unlocking Federal Funding: How to Access FRA Rail Infrastructure Grants for Municipalities, Governments, and State DOTs

Maya Acharya, Transportation Industry Analyst for the Federal Railroad Administration, presents on 2024 rail infrastructure grants available through the FRA and US Department of Transportation.

Britni Eisenmann: We have Maya Acharya. She is with the Federal Railroad Administration sponsor outreach team. She supports the FRA outreach efforts in south central and southeast regions of the country and also acts as the State DOT Liaison. Her team supports potential grantees who have questions about FRA and DOT grants for rail projects.

Maya Acharya: The FRA recently reorganized regionally, so these are the regions, it's dependent on states. I am with the FRA sponsor outreach team. We are here to support grantees, potential grantees, anyone looking to ask questions about different grants and best practices when applying.

Maya: If y'all have looked at the FRA website, we have our discretionary grant calendar out. It shows when our NOFOs [Notice of Funding Opportunity] for our grants are published and then when they're due. So the main grants I'll be discussing today are CRISI and Rail Crossing Elimination, RCE. CRISI is currently published. It was published at the end of March and [your] applications will be due May 28th [2024]. Rail Crossing Elimination will be published at the end of May.

Maya: And this is just a tool for potential grantees. If you want to determine which grant would be most eligible for your projects. It'll ask, you know, what are you? A municipality? Are you a government? Are you a state DOT? And then it'll ask about your project, and then it will direct you to certain grants.

Maya: So here's a rundown of the FRA grants. CRISI, Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements, is currently published. It's sort of our catch all rail program. It funds most rail improvement projects and it's a widely used, widely competitive, grant program. All these programs are discretionary grant programs, so that means they are competitive. Also to note, that these grant programs are an 80% federal, 20% non-federal match. So, when you're applying, you need to indicate how you will pay for the 20% non-federal amount of the grant money. CRISI is our catch-all program. If you are have a rail project that doesn't look like it'll fit under any of the other grant programs, it'll likely fit under CRISI. The NOFO was published. So if you have any questions about that, you can go to the NOFO. If you have any questions about content of the NOFO, [the] NOFO has an email that you can ask questions through. Railroad Crossing Elimination [RCE] is little more applicable to the subject of today, blocked crossings. It's about any improvements done on rail crossings. That can include safety upgrades, signaling, it can also include completely eliminating the rail crossing, creating an overpass. Both of those programs are very important if you're trying to do any significant rail improvement in the area and are seeking funds. We also have Federal-State Partnership grant that's for more for larger scale intercity passenger rail projects. Restoration & Enhancement is really to enhance pre-existing infrastructure. And then Interstate Rail Compacts, which is basically promoting intercity passenger rail operations.

Maya: [These are] competitive grant applications. This is just some data on the number that was selected in the past and how much money was awarded per each grant application. One of the recommendations I would make if you're wondering if you're eligible, or if your project would be eligible, you can go on the website and look at previously awarded grantees and you can see what their project was and who they are. This might give you a better idea if your project, or your project area, you know, would be something that would be eligible within these grant programs.

Maya: I'll speak a little bit about the other US DOT grant programs that's outside of FRA. There are other grant programs that are available for communities RAISE, Reconnecting Communities, Safe Streets and Roads for All, and these other grant programs through Federal Highway Administration. This is also funding available. I just wanted to put that on your radar. There'll be more information available online. Safe Streets and Roads for All is currently open for applications at the moment.

Maya: When you're applying for through FRA, you need to determine which part of the project lifecycle your project is in. Just our general recommendation from FRA is that if you haven't done any project planning or project development, to make sure that that's included in your grant, because that can be very, very expensive. And without having done that work, we're not going to know the costs of construction of the engineering. If you want to have your project properly funded and if you want your grant to look reasonable when we review it, a good way is to make sure that you are asking for funding for the planning of the project.

Maya: And this just goes into more detail on what we consider are the different parts of lifecycle.

Maya: And this is just going to provide more information on each of these grant programs.

Maya: This sort of has, how many were selected last year, our eligibility requirements. This can all be found in NOFO. Rail Crossing Examinations wasn't published this year, but the NOFO from last year is something you can definitely review if you want to prepare an application for Rail Crossing Elimination.

Maya: This is the information for CRISI.

Maya: CRISI has $2.47 billion. It's the consolidated money from 2023 and 2024.

Maya: So a lot of money is available for the this year's application process. So that's something to keep in mind.

Maya: If you have any questions you can email Thank you everyone!


bottom of page