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What is the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

The I-66 Commuter Choice Program is a multimodal transportation improvement funding program. The purpose of the program is to identify and fund projects that benefit toll payers and move more people through the I-66 corridor, inside the Beltway. The basis for the I-66 Commuter Choice Program is a 40-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC). Additional information can be found at novatransit.org/i66commuterchoice.

What is the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission?

Founded in 1964, in part to represent the interests of the Commonwealth during the establishment of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency (WMATA), NVTC is charged with the funding and stewardship of WMATA and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE), which it co-owns. Because Northern Virginia is also home to six bus systems, NVTC works across jurisdictional boundaries to coordinate transit service.

NVTC manages more than $250 million each year in transit funding, deploys new technology and centralizes procurement efforts, facilitates regional dialogue across transit modes and provides, provides technical expertise to regional and statewide planning, conducts corridor studies, and provides data analysis and policy research.

Per the terms of the MOA, the CTB has delegated to NVTC the authority to select and administer the I-66 Commuter Choice Program. Additional information about NVTC can be found at novatransit.org/about-nvtc/commission.

How is the I-66 Commuter Choice Program related to the tolling of I-66?

The I-66 Commuter Choice Program is funded using revenue generated by the tolling of I-66 inside the Beltway. The tolling of I-66 is part of the Transform 66: Inside the Beltway Project. More information about the Transform 66: Inside the Beltway Project can be found at www.66expresslanes.org.

How is the I-66 Commuter Choice Program related to the widening of I-66 Inside the Beltway?

The widening of I-66 eastbound from two lanes to three lanes between Exit 67 at the Dulles Connector Road and Exit 71, the Fairfax Drive/Glebe Road exit, is another, separate, but related component of the Transform66: Inside the Beltway. More information about the Transform 66: Inside the Beltway Project, a joint effort between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), can be found at www.66expresslanes.org.

How are projects selected?

A project selection process has been established for the I-66 Commuter Choice Program. Projects will be screened for eligibility, with eligible projects advanced to technical evaluation.

NVTC, in coordination with a working group of jurisdictional and agency staff, will prioritize the projects and prepare a recommendation on the projects to be included in the FY 2018 I-66 Commuter Choice Program. The NVTC Commission selects the projects and submits for the selected projects to the CTB for approval.

What changes have been made in the Fiscal Year 2018 I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

Other than minor revisions and clarifications, the FY 2018 I-66 Commuter Choice Program is consistent with the FY 2017 program (previously known as the Transform 66 Multimodal Project). The eligibility, evaluation, and project selection process is unchanged and the basis for the I-66 Commuter Choice Program is the MOA, which is unchanged from FY 2017.

Compared to the FY 2017, the FY 2018 I-66 Commuter Choice Program has less emphasis on project completion and implementation by toll day one and will have a separately developed framework for the prioritization of projects.

How many projects were funded in FY 2017 Transform 66 Multimodal Project?

10 projects were awarded funding under the FY 2017 Transform 66 Multimodal Project, representing projects in Arlington County, City of Falls Church, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County. The total FY 2017 funding award was $9,800,675.

Where can I find more information about the previous fiscal year projects?

All active and previous fiscal year(s) project information can be found at www.novatransit.org/i66commuterchoice/.

 

Is this an annual program?

The frequency of the program will be dependent on the availability of funding and the identification of projects.

 

Will there be a FY 2019 program?

NVTC anticipates holding a FY 2019 program. 

 

When will the program become multi-year?

A timeline for the program to transition to a multi-year program has not been determined. The program may transition to a multi-year program in the future years as more information about expected toll revenue is available. 

 

How is the I-66 Commuter Choice Program funded?

The I-66 Commuter Choice Program is funded using revenue generated by the tolling of I-66 inside the Beltway. The specific amount of funding for any fiscal year program is determined per section II.A.4 of the MOA. The MOA can be found here.

Are funding requests reimbursement-based under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

Yes. NVTC will manage funds from the I-66 Commuter Choice Program as a reimbursement-base program, similar to NVTA and DRPT grant programs.

What are the limits of funding operating assistance?

The limitation for funding operations is specifically for transit (bus and rail) whereby no more than 50 percent of the funding for the preceding five fiscal years may be used for transit operating assistance (See Section 2.A.4(e) of the MOA). Operating expenses that qualify for operating assistance under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program include: fuel, oil, drivers’ salaries and fringe benefits, dispatcher salaries and fringe benefits, and licenses. This definition is based on FTA Circular 9300.iE (urbanized area formula grant program) and FTA Circular 9040 (rural area formula grant program)

How many years of transit operating assistance funding can be applied for under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

Applicants can apply for up to eight years of operating assistance, as desired, subject to the requirements of Section 2.A.4(e), Section 2.B.1(d), and Section 2.B.1(e) of the MOA.

If multiple years of operating assistance are requested, does NVTC approve and fund the full operating request using the FY 2018 funding or would NVTC fund only the first year using of FY 2018 funding with the remaining years using subsequent fiscal year funding?

Multi-year funding requests may be awarded, in full, using the fiscal year funds under which the project was selected, subject to the performance of the project and the receipt of reimbursement requests.

Can a project be funded at less than the full request?

Partial funding may be made available subject to the availability of funding and the prioritization of projects. In order to receive partial funding, the applicant should demonstrate that one or more of the following conditions are true:

  1. The project can be scaled to accomplish a subset of project goals relative to the partial funding amount.
  2. The project, partially funded by the I-66 Commuter Choice Program, can still be ‘fully funded’ and delivered by the acquisition of funding outside the Project. The applicant should clearly describe the source, timeline, and likelihood of receiving the outside funding in a detailed cost estimate.

It is recommended that the applicant prepare detailed cost estimates, schedules, and benefit assessments that are specific to both the ‘fully funded’ and scaled project.  If the applicant determines that the scaled project is sufficiently distinct from the ‘fully funded’ projects, it is recommended that the applicant submit an entirely separate project application.

It is not the intention of the I-66 Commuter Choice Program to distribute partial funding towards a project that cannot be completed or implemented with a funding that is less than the full funding request.

What happens if project costs come in below the funding request?

Remaining, i.e. not reimbursed, funding could be repurposed to fund the next set of eligible, selected, and approved multimodal projects.

What money is funding this year's program?

Toll revenue is based on fiscal year. This year’s program will include the revenue generated between December 2017 to June 30, 2018, subject to CTB allocation.

Who is eligible to apply for funding?

All jurisdictions and other public transportation providers in Virginia Planning District 8 are eligible to submit multimodal project applications under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program. Eligible applicants include the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park; the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Purcellville and Vienna; and, the public transit system providers that serve these areas (VRE, WMATA, and PRTC) (See MOA Section 2.B.2).

Are towns considered eligible applicants?

Towns within Planning District 8 are considered eligible applicants under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program.

What types of projects are eligible for funding?

The eligibility criteria for projects are as follows: (See MOA Section 2.B.1)

  1. (a) Must benefit the toll-paying users of the Facility;
  2. (b) Must have the capacity to attain one or more of the Improvement Goals:[(1) move more people; (2) enhance transportation connectivity; (3) improve transit service; (4) reduce roadway congestion; and (5) increase travel options]
  3. (c) Must be one of the following multimodal transportation improvements serving the Corridor:
    1. (i) New or enhanced local and commuter bus service, including capital and operating expenses (e.g., fuel, tires, maintenance, labor and insurance), subject to the limitations [of no more than 20 percent of available funds for operating assistance], and transit priority improvements;
    2. (ii) Vanpool, and formal and informal carpooling programs and assistance;
    3. (iii) Capital improvements for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority rail and bus service, including capital and operating expenses, subject to the limitations [of no more than 20 percent of available funds for operating assistance] and improved access to Metrorail stations and Metrobus stops;
    4. (iv) Park and ride lot(s) and access or improved access thereto;
    5. (v) Roadway improvements to address impacts from the dynamic tolling of the Facility on roadways in the Corridor (including but not limited to Routes 7, 29, 50, and 309, and Washington Boulevard, Wilson Boulevard, and Westmoreland Street);
    6. (vii) Roadway operational improvements in the Corridor;
    7. (viii) Transportation Systems Management and Operations as defined in 23 U.S.C. § 101(a)(30) on December 1, 2015; (See below)
      1. [(A) In general.—
        1. The term “transportation systems management and operations” means integrated strategies to optimize the performance of existing infrastructure through the implementation of multimodal and intermodal, cross-jurisdictional systems, services, and projects designed to preserve capacity and improve security, safety, and reliability of the transportation system.
      2. (B) Inclusions.—The term “transportation systems management and operations” includes—
        1. (i) actions such as traffic detection and surveillance, corridor management, freeway management, arterial management, active transportation and demand management, work zone management, emergency management, traveler information services, congestion pricing, parking management, automated enforcement, traffic control, commercial vehicle operations, freight management, and coordination of highway, rail, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian operations; and
        2. (ii) coordination of the implementation of regional transportation system management and operations investments (such as traffic incident management, traveler information services, emergency management, roadway weather management, intelligent transportation systems, communication networks, and information sharing systems) requiring agreements, integration, and interoperability to achieve targeted system performance, reliability, safety, and customer service levels.]
        3. (ix) Projects identified in the Commonwealths Reports and projects in the region’s constrained long range plan, as such plan may be updated from time to time, and payments to a debt service reserve related to financing of such projects; and
  4. (d) For non-debt financed Projects, must demonstrate the ability to obligate the toll revenues to the cost of the Project within two fiscal years and to expend the toll revenues within five fiscal years of the fiscal year in which the funds are allocated by the CTB; and
  5. (e) Must demonstrate that the Projects will be in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations and have received or will receive all required regulatory approvals.

Are studies eligible?

Studies are eligible under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program, provided that it can be demonstrated that the studies meet the eligibility criteria of Section 2.B.1 of the MOA.

Is traffic calming a qualifying Multimodal Transportation Improvement under eligibility criteria B (Section 2.B.1 of MOA)?

Yes. If it can be demonstrated that a traffic calming project meets all other eligibility criteria set forth in Section 2.B.1 of the MOA (and described above), the project would be considered eligible for funding under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program. Traffic calming projects could be considered to be qualify as one or more of the following Multimodal Transportation Improvements:

vii. Roadway operational improvements in the Corridor
viii. Roadway improvements to address impacts from the dynamic tolling of the facility on roadways in the Corridor
ix. Transportation Systems Management and Operations as defined in 23 U.S.C. § 101(a)(30) on December 1, 2015

How is “obligated” defined under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program in reference to the eligibility criteria?

The ‘obligation’ requirement is met via including the I-66 Commuter Choice Program project funding in an adopted budget.  The ‘obligation’ requirement would also be met by awarding a contract for implementation of the project.

Do projects funded under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program need to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act?

Funding received from the I-66 Commuter Choice Program does not require compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Please note that projects must comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations and must have received or will receive all regulatory approvals as required by other funding sources or elements of the Project per the eligibility criteria of Section 2.B.1 of the MOA.

The MOA states that a transit project must be "new or enhanced." How can previously funded transit projects be considered eligible for funding in subsequent program years?

For the purposes of the I-66 Commuter Choice Program, a new or enhanced transit project is one that is either a) a completely new project applying for funding b) a substantial enhancement of existing service, or c) an existing service that was achieved with the application of funding from the I-66 Commuter Choice Program.
Accordingly, any transit project that was funded by the I-66 Commuter Choice Program in a prior program year may reapply for future funding subject to the limitations of the MOA.

The MOA states that funds must be "obligated (budgeted) in 2 years and spent in 5 years." From what milestone does this requirement start?

As defined in Section II.B.1(d) of the MOA, the requirement starts from the fiscal year in which the funds are allocated by the CTB. NVTC may request an extension of this timeline, which would be considered for approval by CTB.

What defines project "obligation?"

The ‘obligation’ requirement is met via including the I-66 Commuter Choice Program project funding in an adopted budget. The ‘obligation’ requirement would also be met by awarding a contract for implementation of the project.

Which phases of a project are eligible?

All phases of an eligible project may be considered eligible for funding so long as the project meets the eligibility requirements (see MOA Section II.B.1) and any other limitations as set forth in the MOA.

When does the application period open?

Applications for funding under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program will be accepted beginning 2:00 P.M. on September 21, 2017.

When are applications due?

Applications for funding under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program must be submitted no later than 5:00 P.M. on December 22, 2017. Applications for funding received after this time will not be considered. Partially completed applications may be deemed ineligible.

Will out of cycle application submission be considered?

No. All application must be submitted during the application period for each fiscal year.

Where can I find the application?

A copy of the FY 2018 I-66 Commuter Choice Program application is located here: www.novatransit.org/i66commuterchoice

Are there any limitations to the number of applications that can be submitted by a single jurisdiction/agency?

There is no limit to the number of project applications that can be submitted by a jurisdiction or agency. A separate application must be prepared for each project to be considered for funding.

Who should complete or contribute information to the application?

The application should be completed by a jurisdiction’s or agency’s representative that is knowledgeable about the project.

How do I submit an application?

All application will be submitted online. Eligible agencies and jurisdictions will receive an email with instructions on how to access the application submission website.

Will previously funded transit operating assistance projects need to reapply in future years or will they simply need to notify NVTC that they intend to continue service?

A previously funded project may apply for additional years of operating assistance.

For existing projects that have demonstrated performance that meets or exceeds documented performance measures per agreement with NVTC, and as evidenced in their annual reports to NVTC, a streamlined application process will be used. These projects may not be reevaluated and may be prioritized separately from other projects based on funding availability and fiscal year goals. This assumes the project is not substantially different with respect to scope or expected benefits.

For projects that are not meeting documented performance measures, the regular Call for Projects application process will be used. Applicants will have the opportunity to update project information and expected benefits and the application will receive a new evaluation score. These projects will be prioritized with all other projects submitted under that year’s Call for Projects.

How are projects evaluated?

All eligible projects will be technically evaluated using the following criteria that were approved by the Commission: person throughput, peak period travel time, connectivity, accessibility, diversion mitigation, and cost effectiveness.

How are the projects selected?

A proposed list of projects will be presented at a Northern Virginia Transportation Commission meeting. The Commission will send the list of recommended projects to the Commonwealth Transportation Board for approval.

When is funding anticipated to be awarded for selected projects?

Standard Grant Agreements for selected projects will be prepared following approval of the projects list by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Is the Standard Grant Agreement available for review?

The Standard Grant Agreement is not yet available. It will be developed in coordination with the jurisdictions and is intended to closely follow the agreements developed by NVTA for House Bill 2313 funding.

How are projects monitored?

Applicant are required to submit periodic reports to NVTC regarding the status and released benefits of funded projects. Measures of effectiveness for each project are based on the information provided in the project applications and refined or finalized during the Standard Grant Agreement Process.

If an applicant is applying for new bus service, should they only apply for operating hours to be during I-66 rush hours? Otherwise, if the route is going to operate beyond rush hours, isn’t that going to affect the C/B score?

The MOA does not include limitations on the hours or geographic limits of transit service that may be funded by I-66 Inside the Beltway toll revenue.

A project that meets the eligibility criteria as defined in Section II.B.1 of the MOA will be considered eligible for evaluation and selection.

However, the project benefit evaluation will be limited to the benefits that occur during the tolled periods and that are reasonably expected to be experienced by a toll-paying user of the facility.

The applicant may demonstrate that service in the non-tolled period will result in benefits to toll-payers or only quantify those benefits related to operating hours during the tolled period.

The cost-benefit score is calculated as the total benefit score divided by the total funding request. Only qualifying benefits will be used to determine the benefit score.

How many years of monitoring and reporting are required?

Section II.B.4 of the MOA requires NVTC to provide the CTB with annual reports containing, at a minimum:
1) a description of projects selected for funding in the past fiscal year and the benefits that were the basis for evaluation and selection
2) starting five years after effective date of the MOA, a review of projects funded in past fiscal years describing the degree to which the expected benefits were realized or are being realized, and
3) in the event a funded project is not providing substantially similar benefits that were the basis for evaluation and selection, an evaluation of the viability to modify the project or redeploy assets to other eligible projects
For NVTC to meet these minimum requirements, applicants with funded projects should generally be prepared to provide annual performance reports to NVTC for each year that a project is funded or for a minimum of five years from the date of the initial funding request. The specific monitoring and reporting requirements for each funded project will be defined in the project agreement with NVTC.

Is there a public involvement process for the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

Similar to the FY 2017 Transform 66 Multimodal Project, the I-66 Commuter Choice Program will include public meetings and a public commenting period.

Who can I speak to about the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

General questions can be directed to Patricia Happ, the NVTC I-66 Commuter Choice Program Manager www.novatransit.org/i66commuterchoice.

How can I find out what projects my locality or transit agency is submitting?

Specific project information can be provided by the point(s) of contact for each agency:

Jurisdiction/Agency Name Contact
Arlington County/ART Sarah Crawford scrawford@arlingtonva.us
Cristin Tolen ctolen@arlingtonva.us
City of Alexandria/DASH Allan Fye Allan.Fye@alexandriava.gov
City of Fairfax/CUE Sanford, Wendy Block Wendy.Sanford@fairfaxva.gov
City of Falls Church Jeffrey Sikes jsikes@fallschurchva.gov
City of Manassas Chloe Delhomme cdelhomme@ci.manassas.va.us
City of Manassas Park Laszlo A. Palko l.palko@manassasparkva.gov
DRPT Tim Roseboom Tim.Roseboom@drpt.virginia.gov
Ciara Williams Ciara.Williams@drpt.virginia.gov
Fairfax County/Connector Malcolm Watson Malcolm.Watson@fairfaxcounty.gov
Noelle Dominguez Noelle.Dominguez@fairfaxcounty.gov
Loudoun County/LCT Scott W Gross Scott.Gross@Loudoun.gov
Kathleen Leidich (alternate) kathleen.leidich@loudoun.gov  
NVTA Sree Nampoothiri Sree.Nampoothiri@thenovaauthority.org
Prince William County Brittany Martin BMartin@pwcgov.org
Elizabeth Scullin EScullin@pwcgov.org
PRTC Chuck Steigerwald Csteigerwald@omniride.com
VDOT Allahdoust, Fatemeh Fatemeh.Allahdoust@VDOT.Virginia.gov
VRE Christine Hoeffner choeffner@vre.org
WMATA Mark Phillips mephillips@wmata.com
Vienna Mike Gallagher michael.gallagher@viennava.gov
Dumfries Terry Meyers tmyers@dumfriesva.gov
Purcellville Dale E. Lehnig dLehnig@purcellvilleva.gov
Herndon Michael Wallick michael.wallick@herndon-va.gov
Leesburg Tom Brandon tbrandon@leesburgva.gov

I have a project idea. How can I get it considered for funding?

All project must be submitted through an eligible jurisdiction or transit agency. Please reach out to the relevant point of contact (above) to discuss an idea for a project.

Should farebox revenue be indicated on the application to the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

NVTC does not require the applicant to provide farebox revenue information in the application. Farebox recovery, if used to supplement the operating costs of a project, will be considered as other requested (but not committed funds).

Note:  Only committed funds will be considered as “matching funds” for the purposes of the cost sharing evaluation criteria calculation.

If an applicant wishes to include anticipated farebox revenues for the project, it is recognized that specific value of the farebox revenues may vary year to year. Even if farebox revenues are committed in intent, the specific value may not be. The applicant may provide more information about farebox revenues (i.e. historic value) at their discretion to further indicate the expected amount of project costs that will be addressed by farebox revenue.

What is the appropriate way to quantify annual operating costs on the I-66 Commuter Choice Program application?

Recognizing that the application specifically requests annual operating costs, it is suggested that applicants either:

Adjust the inflated out year costs back to a net present value for the current year and add the calculated net present value to the initial year cost. The applicant should indicate the inflation rate that was considered and all the out year costs on the detailed cost spreadsheet

OR

Identify an average annual operating cost that approximates the sum of the initial year cost and subsequent inflated out years.  The applicant should indicate the inflation rate that was considered and all the out year costs on the detailed cost spreadsheet.

How are “committed funds” defined under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

‘Committed funds’ are defined as any funds that have been intended for use toward the cost of the Project within an adopted document or plan such as a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Funding identified in the out-years of a CIP would qualify as ‘committed funds’.  Committed funds may also include proffers or in-kind contributions. 

Funds that may not be classified as ‘committed’ include active applications or requests for funding from VDOT or DRPT, regional funding, other funding programs, or local funds that have been requested but not approved. These may be documented as ‘other requested funding sources’ in the project application. 

Are matching funds from other sources a requirement of the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

There is no requirement for matching funds from other source, however, the application and attachments should indicate all potential and committed funding sources related to the development and implementation of the project.

If a contractor is paid the operation and maintenance of service, are the contractor costs qualified operating expenses under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program?

Exhibit IV-1 in FTA Circular 9030.1e provides guidance as to what percent of a service contract can be considered “capital.” For instance, Service Contract (contractor provides maintenance and transit service; recipient provides vehicles) costs would be considered 40 percent “capital”.

In general, only contractor costs specifically associated with the operation of service would qualify as an operating expense under the I-66 Commuter Choice Program. It is recommended that the applicant separates operations and maintenance costs. For example, if a contractor is paid for operation and maintenance of service by the revenue hour, the revenue hour costs should be split between operations and maintenance. The operations portion would be considered as a qualified operating expense and the maintenance portion would be considered as a capital expense/non-qualified operations expense. These costs should be clearly identified on the application and in the detailed cost estimate that is submitted as an attachment to the applications.

Can I-66 Commuter Choice Program funding be considered as local match for other state and federal funding programs?

I-66 Inside the Beltway Toll revenues are considered state funds. As such, they would not be considered as a local match for state funding programs, but would likely be considered as a local match for a federal funding program subject to the specific rules of the funding program.

How will reimbursements be handled when there is a lead and co-applicant or when another agency incurs the expense?

NVTC will provide reimbursement to the lead applicant with which the project agreement was signed. Jurisdiction and agencies should determine a mutually-acceptable procedure for project billing and reimbursement.

How will scope and budget changes be addressed?

Minor changes to a project’s scope or budget may be treated as administrative modifications to the project agreements. These administrative modifications would likely not require any action by Commissioners or the CTB.

Administrative modifications could include changes that are not expected to result in substantial differences from the agreed upon project scope and the expected benefits. Additionally, changes that will not result in a reimbursement request that exceeds the CTB-allocated funding for the project may also be considered administrative modifications.

FAQs last update 12/15/17

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