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Automatic Emergency Relief from FTA Regulatory Requirements Applicable to Hurricane Harvey Response


Transit agencies may take actions, such as providing service for evacuations, returning evacuees from shelters to their homes, transporting utility workers, and providing service to shelter residents, as long as these actions are directly related to Hurricane Harvey, without triggering the charter rule. Transit agencies may provide such services for up to 45 days from a declaration of emergency by the President, governor or mayor.

For Texas, the Presidential declaration of emergency began on August 23, so 45 days from that date is October 7, 2017. For Louisiana, the Presidential declaration of emergency began on August 27, so 45 days from that date is October 11, 2017. If transit agencies need to provide the type of emergency transportation services described above past those dates, they must follow the procedures set out in 49 CFR Part 601, Subpart D – Emergency Procedures for Public Transportation Systems.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

In accordance with 23 CFR 771.118(c)(11), FTA has determined that certain activities related to repairing transportation facilities damaged by an incident resulting in a Presidential disaster or emergency declaration are categorical exclusions and normally do not require any further NEPA approvals by FTA. These actions include:

  • Emergency repairs under 49 U.S.C. 5324 (FTA’s emergency relief program)

  • The repair, reconstruction, restoration, retrofitting, or replacement of any road, highway, bridge, tunnel, or transit facility (such as a ferry dock or bus transfer station), including ancillary transportation facilities (such as pedestrian/bicycle paths and bike lanes), that is in operation or under construction when damaged and the action:

  • Occurs within the existing right-of-way and in a manner that substantially conforms to the preexisting design, function, and location as the original (which may include upgrades to meet existing codes and standards as well as upgrades warranted to address conditions that have changed since the original construction)

  • Commences within a two-year period beginning on the date of the declaration


In accordance with the planning regulation (23 CFR part 450), emergency relief projects that do not involve substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes are not required to be in the TIP/STIP.


Generally, procurement of goods and services by transit agencies must be completed via a competitive procurement. However, the Uniform Guidance at 2 CFR 200.320 permits sole source contracting when the public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation; or the federal awarding agency expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the transit agency.

The recipient must document its sole source justification in writing. FTA encourages grant recipients considering a sole source based on exigency or emergency to contact FTA’s Region VI office for technical assistance and/or express authorization of a noncompetitive proposal.

Emergency Relief Program

FTA's Emergency Relief (ER) Program is intended for states and transit agencies that may be affected by a declared emergency or disaster and want to seek funding. See the ER Program guide -- particularly the frequently asked questions on page 59.

FTA has established an Emergency Relief Docket for calendar year 2017 so that grantees and subgrantees affected by national or regional emergencies may request temporary relief from FTA administrative and statutory requirements.

See the 2017 Emergency Relief Funding and Emergency Docket presentation.

For further information:

Bonnie L. Graves

Attorney-Advisor Office of Chief Counsel Federal Transit Administration 90 Seventh Street, Ste. 15-300 San Francisco, CA 94103 phone: (202) 366-0944 fax: (415) 734-9489

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