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Frequently Asked Questions - Port Infrastructure Development Grants

Q: Due to COVID-19, will the application deadline be extended?

A: At this time the Department does not expect to extend the deadline. In the event that the deadline is extended, the website and the Grants.gov opportunity will be updated.

Please identify any area(s) in the application narrative that may be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 situation for the Department’s consideration in the project’s evaluation.

Q: How can applicants compete for the $56.25 million set aside for projects requesting exactly $10 million in PIDP funds?

A: To compete for this set aside, an applicant must request EXACTLY $10 million. The Department may award less than the requested amount.

Applicants that request exactly $10 million may also include project alternatives that could be awarded less than or greater than exactly $10 million. These applicants should: (1) Expressly state the request amount alternative to $10 million, (2) describe the scope that would accompany that alternative request, (3) clearly indicate the budget and source of funds for the alternative request, and (4) provide sufficient information for the Department to assess the selection criteria for the alternative request.

Q: If an applicant requests less than $10 million, are they eligible to compete for the $56.25 million set aside?

A: No. An applicant must request EXACTLY $10 million to be eligible for the $56.25 million side. Applicants requesting less than $10 million will be considered for the remaining $168.75 million.

Q: What is the basis of the Port Infrastructure Development Grant Program?

A: On December 20, 2019, the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (FY20 Appropriations Act), which appropriated $225 million to be awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (Program). The Act directs the Department to make the Program’s discretionary grants to improve port facilities within or connecting to coastal seaports, inland river ports, and Great Lakes ports. The Program was established under Section 50302 of Title 46, United States Code, and authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA). The FY20 Program was designed to incorporate the combined mandates of the FY20 Appropriations Act and the NDAA.

Q: When are applications due?

A: May 18, 2020 at 8:00pm E.D.T

Q: Who is eligible to apply under the Port Infrastructure Development Program?

A: Eligible applicants for Program discretionary grants may be: a port authority, a commission or its subdivision or agent under existing authority, a State or political subdivision of a State or local government, a Tribal government, a public agency or publicly chartered authority established by one or more States, a special purpose district with a transportation function, a multistate or multijurisdictional group of entities, or a lead entity described above jointly with a private entity or group of private entities.

Q: Are US Territory Governments eligible to receive grants in the Port Infrastructure Development Program?

A: U.S. Territory governments are eligible for Port Infrastructure Development Program grants. Eligible US Territory governments include Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Q: What is the definition of “coastal seaport?”

A: A port on navigable waters of the United States or territories that are subject to the

Corps of Engineers regulatory jurisdiction for oceanic and coastal waters under 33 CFR 329.12

or that is otherwise capable of receiving oceangoing vessels with a draft of at least 20 feet (other

than a Great Lakes port).

Q: What is the definition of “Great Lakes” port?

A: A port on the Great Lakes and their connecting and tributary waters as defined under 33 CFR 83.03(o).

Q: What projects are eligible?

A: Eligible projects shall be located either within the boundary of a port, or outside the boundary of a port and directly related to port operations or to an intermodal connection to a port. Per the FY20 Appropriations Act, eligible projects are limited to: port gate improvements; road improvements both within and connecting to the port; rail improvements both within and connecting to the port; berth improvements; fixed landside improvements in support of cargo operations; utilities necessary for safe operations; a combination of activities described above.

Q: When must funds be obligated for an awarded project?

A: To ensure the funds are expended in a timely manner, the Department, to the extent possible, seeks to obligate PIDP funds by September 30, 2023.

Q: What are the determinations the Department must make about an applicant and project prior to selecting to selecting a project for award?

A: Per Section C.3.b of the NOFO:

  1. The project improves the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through a port or intermodal connection to the port.
  2. The project is cost effective.
  3. The applicant has the authority to carry out the project.
  4. The applicant has sufficient funding available.
  5. The project will be completed without unreasonable delay.
  6. The project cannot be easily and efficiently completed without Federal funding or financial assistance available to the project sponsor.

Q: Is vessel construction or acquisition an eligible project under this program?

A: No, this program will not fund vessel construction, reconstruction, reconditioning, or purchase of a vessel.

Q: Are development phase or planning activities eligible under this program?

A: Development phase activities (including planning, feasibility analysis, revenue forecasting, environmental review, permitting, and preliminary engineering and design work) that support the eligible capital projects are also eligible.  However, the Department will prioritize funding for projects that propose to move into the construction phase within the grant’s performance period.  Accordingly, applications for only development phase activities will be less competitive than capital grants.

Q: How many applications can a lead applicant submit under this program?

A: Each lead applicant may submit no more than one application.

Q: With multiple Federal infrastructure grant programs running concurrently (Ex. BUILD and PIDP), can an eligible entity apply for the same project via more than one grant opportunity?

A: Yes. However, there are differing requirements and selection criteria for each program. It is important that applicants tailor their applications to meet the requirements for each funding opportunity. Please note if the project has not substantively changed from prior submissions to BUILD or other Department programs, staff may rely on previous analyses.

Q: Will Buy American Act compliance be a consideration for this program?

A: The Department will consider whether an exception/waiver of the Buy American provisions will be necessary to complete the project. Among otherwise comparable applications, projects that depend on materials or manufactured products that do not comply with domestic preference requirements will be less competitive than projects that comply with those requirements. Among otherwise comparable applications that require exceptions or waivers, an application that presents an effective plan to maximize domestic content will be more competitive than one that does not.  The Department will not award projects that likely need a waiver but present no plan to maximize domestic content.

Q: Does NEPA need to be completed prior to submitting an application?

A: No. A project is not required to have NEPA completed at the time of submitting an application. However, part of the Project Readiness evaluation assesses the project scheduled as presented in the application, and assess the risk to a timely obligation.

Q: Will the Department of Transportation consider geographic diversity as part of this program?

A: The Department will consider the geographic diversity among applicants when selecting Port Infrastructure Development Program Grant awards.

Q: How do I determine if my project is located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone?

A: To determine if a location is in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, please consult map link below:

https://www.transportation.gov/opportunity-zones/opportunity-zones-interactive-map

Q: How do I determine if my project is rural?

A: A project is classified as rural if the project location is outside a 2010 Census-designated urbanized area. To determine if a location is in a Census-Designated UA, please consult Census maps of Urbanized Areas see the links below:

https://www.census.gov/geographies/reference-maps/2010/geo/2010-census-urban-areas.html  (detailed PDF maps for every UA)

https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/geography/guidance/geo-areas/urban-rural/2010-urban-rural.html

Q: What are the minimum and maximum grant award amounts?

A: The minimum grant award is $1 million. There is no maximum award.

Q: The Appropriations Act directs that of the $225 million available, at least $200 million will be reserved for grants to coastal seaports and Great Lakes ports. Can coastal seaports and Great Lakes also compete for the additional $25 million?

A: Yes, coastal seaports and Great Lakes ports are also eligible to compete for the additional $25 million not already set aside for those two specifically.  

Q: Will previously incurred costs or previously expended or encumbered funds count towards matching amounts for this program?

A: No, the Department will not consider previously incurred costs or previously expended or encumbered funds towards the matching requirement for any project.

Q: Are PIDP Transportation Grants a lump-sum cash disbursement at the time of award, or are they reimbursement grants? How do reimbursement grants work?

A-PIDP Grants are reimbursement grants. The recipient of a grant will not receive a lump-sum cash disbursement at the time of award announcement or obligation of funds.  Instead, the recipient must pay project costs as they are incurred and submit to DOT requests for reimbursement. This means that the recipient must have access to sufficient non-PIDP funding sources to manage cash flow associated with the project.

Q: Can the grantee's cost-share requirement be satisfied by in-kind contributions?

A: Yes, in-kind contributions may be used to satisfy the cost-share requirements. They should be outlined in the grant application, must be approved by MARAD prior to grant execution, and must adhere to the criteria outlined in 2 CFR Part 200, including Section 200.306, to be eligible.

Q: Can the grantee's cost-share requirement be satisfied by contributions from a third party who is involved in the project?

A: Yes.  As long as the contributions meet the requirements in Section C.2. (Eligibility Information: Cost Sharing or Matching) and F.2. (Administrative and National Policy Requirements) of the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Q: How can I find the Port Infrastructure Development Grant funding opportunity on Grants.gov?

A: You can use any of the following parameters to locate the funding opportunity on Grants.gov:

  • Funding Opportunity Number: 693JF7-20-BAA-0001; and
  • Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 20.823 - Port Infrastructure Development Program.

Q: What if I am having technical issues or would like guidance from grants.gov?

Please refer to the following links for technical issues with grants.gov:

Grants.gov Applicant Training

Grants.gov Online User Guide

You can also contact Grants.gov Customer Support Hotline at 1-800-518-4726, Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. E.D.T.

Q: Where can I find additional information about the 2020 Port Infrastructure Development Grant Program?

A: There are two webcasts available on the MARAD webpage that provide insight into the application and Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) development process. The accompanying slides for each webcast can also be found on the webpage. This information can be found at the following address: https://www.maritime.dot.gov/office-port-infrastructure-development/port...

Q: In order for USDOT to determine that a project will be “cost effective” for it to be selected, applicants should submit a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) as part of their grant application. What is the definition of a “cost effective” project?

A: Projects must be found to have estimated benefits that are reasonably likely to exceed costs in order to be considered cost effective. The Department will determine a project is cost effective if it estimates that the project’s benefit-cost ratio is equal to or greater than one.

Q: Is there an USDOT approved template applicants can use to help develop a BCA for a PIDP grant?

A: There is no specific BCA example template available.

Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020