MASSDOT: Accepting 2020 IRAP Applications

MASSDOT Launches 2020 IRAP VII Program. Total Available Funding "Up To" $3 Million. Stricter Emphasis on Project Readiness and Shorter Timelines are the Major Program Upgrades. Applications Due by 29 August.

29 July, Boston MA – The seventh round of Industrial Rail Access Program funding follows the same general principles of recent years. IRAP funds can be applied to up to 60% of a project’s total costs, and the maximum per-project award is $500,000. Eligible applicants include host municipalities, economic development corporations, freight railroads operating in the Commonwealth, and industrial rail shippers/receivers engaged in commercial ventures in the Commonwealth.

Five IRAP grants totaling $1.8 Million were awarded in 2018. There was no RFP issued for 2019. The 2019 program seems to have been a casualty of turmoil in the Rail & Transit division beginning in mid-2018.


There are indications in the new RFP that the program has undergone some needed recalibration. Most significantly, the timeline for project completion has been tightened for 2020 from two years (2018 IRAP RFP) to 12-18 months (“… projects that will be completed prior to June 2021 will receive special consideration”). In addition project evaluation will place greater weight on total project readiness, especially proof that all potential external interests and authorizations are in place and/or on track.

FY2020 MassDOT IRAP RFP Sec. V, C: [Demonstration] that the project is “ready to go” … completed within 12 to 18 months of award.

[…] Immediate Projects are those that demonstrate Project Readiness with a planned project duration of 6 months or less and a planned project completion date of June 30, 2020.

[…] Although Immediate Projects may be more heavily weighted in the evaluation process, projects with high levels of demonstrated public benefits may still be selected for award.

In support of the Project Readiness evaluation the following information should be described.

  • Project Right of Way – Describe the limits of work of the project identifying whether all work is on property owned by the applicant (by full ownership or easement) or if licenses/agreements are required. If licenses/agreements are required, identify the status of those rights.
  • Project Design – Describe the level of design of the project and the schedule for design completion.
  • Environmental/Permits – Describe any permits (environmental or other required permits) that are necessary for construction of the project, including the status of the permitting efforts and the planned schedule for any outstanding permits or environmental clearances.
  • Railroad Access/Agreement – Describe involvement of the servicing railroad in the project development process, including (as applicable) design review, railroad property access, switch agreements, construction and railroad flagging protection.
  • Third Party Coordination – Describe required actions and the planned time frame of any third-party project stakeholders required to advance the project. This may include utility relocations, roadway / municipal improvements, or coordination with abutting properties
  • Procurement – Describe anticipated procurements (equipment, material, and/or labor) necessary for the project and the planned schedule for those efforts.

Community Coordination – To the degree applicable for the project, describe any actions or activities that have been undertaken to coordinate with local community groups and/or regulatory commissions, or to coordinate with abutters.


Compared to previous rounds, the 2020 MassDOT IRAP application requires greater and more specific written detail in several sections:

FY2020 MassDOT IRAP applications must include all of the information requested in this section and carefully and completely respond to the following narrative requirements and organizational formatting {FY2020 IRAP RFA, Sec. V} .

A well-written project descriptions and orderly presentation of readiness will improve an applicant’s chance of receiving an IRAP award. Contact the ANRP Editor if you would like help developing or perfecting the narrative and formatting for your application. It’s what I do.