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Trump admin moving to end transit construction program and TIGER immediately

New documents released this week by the Trump administration make it clear that 2018 won’t be soon enough to eliminate funding for future transit construction and TIGER competitive grants — they want them gone now, in 2017.

After months of promises to invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure, President Trump’s 2018 budget request proposed eliminating the popular TIGER competitive grant program and ending the support for helping cities of all sizes build new transit lines, among other cuts.

This week, it’s become clear that the 2018 fiscal year (which begins this October) isn’t soon enough for the administration — they are now asking Congress to make most of the same cuts and changes in (the rest of) this year’s budget for 2017.

“The Administration proposes to suspend additional projects from entering the [transit capital grants] program, and believes localities should fund these localized projects.”

That’s what the Office of Management and Budget is requesting for the federal transit capital construction program, according to Jeff Davis’ Eno Transportation Weekly. That’s paired with a request to cut funding for transit construction by about $400 million for the rest of this fiscal year. Unlike the President’s recent proposal for the next fiscal year (2018), these cuts are proposed for the budget that Congress is negotiating now to keep the government operating through October.

You can help save these vital programs 

We’re looking for national, state and local organizations to demonstrate their support for fully funded TIGER and transit Capital Investment Programs. Sign onto T4America’s nationwide support letter by Friday, March 31st. 

Budget background: The government is operating under a continuing budget resolution (CR) because Congress failed to pass individual spending bills in late 2016 for this fiscal year. They instead passed a single bill to keep the government functioning at 2016 funding levels for most programs. Congress must produce budgetary legislation of some kind before the current CR expires on April 28, or run the risk of once again shutting down the government.

What does this mean for transit?

For one, it means $400 million less available this year to distribute to the ready-to-go transit projects that the federal government has already promised to fund by signing a full-funding grant agreement (FFGA). That means some unknown number of transit projects that were initially recommended to receive funding from FTA this year would be left out.

Secondly, suspending the pipeline means that transit projects in cities like Indianapolis, Tempe, Albuquerque, Ft. Lauderdale and dozens of others would be at the front of a line that would not move again under President Trump. Some of these cities expected to move ahead this year and were even recommended for funding by the Federal Transit Administration. Many have already pledged millions of their own dollars or have started development, engineering or construction work on projects that are on the cusp of receiving a federal grant to help complete it. And despite the administration’s belief that “localities should fund these localized projects,” the federal government funds interstate interchanges, highway widenings and road construction projects that are inherently local in nature almost every single day. There’s nothing more “local” about a transit project at all.

The administration is not satisfied to see the pipeline of transit projects shut down in 2018 — they want it shut down as soon as possible, in whatever budget Congress produces to carry us through the rest of this year.

What’s the news for TIGER?

It could mean the end of TIGER grants this year, with no grants awarded in 2017 at all.

CQ Roll Call reports that congressional housing/transportation appropriators are being asked to cut $2.7 billion from their budget for the rest of this year and eliminate $500 million from the TIGER program for this year — the entirety of this year’s funding. In years past, spring had been the time of year when USDOT would typically open the application period for this year’s batch of awards, with the aim to award TIGER grants sometime this fall. Though TIGER is technically funded for this year, with no certainty about a budget for the second half of the year from April to October, USDOT won’t make funding available that could be rescinded by Congress. And this is exactly why.

If you represent an organization of some kind, sign onto T4America’s nationwide support letter for these programs by Friday, March 31st. 

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Trump Moves to Immediately Gut Transit Expansion and TIGER Funding – Streetsblog USA

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  3. Terri Duffy

    5 months ago

    Albuquerque is right in the MIDDLE of this project! Central Avenue runs the entire length of the town and it is unzipped from one end to another. This is unconscionable!

  4. Jerry Alter

    5 months ago

    I’m concerned that Trump and other Republicans might say “If you don’t like the American transportation system being limited to the airplane and automobile, leave the United States and move to Europe preferably Zurich, Switzerland.”. That is disgusting! Seem to be that Republicans especially Trump want transportation within cities to be automobile only. We hate that!