TIGER Grant Recipients Showcase Innovation in Both Rural and Urban CommunitiesOctober 20, 2010
By Stephen Lee Davis
Program’s merit-based project selection is a model for next transportation authorization
The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced a second round of competitive grants for innovative transportation projects that address economic, environmental and travel issues. The 75 projects announced today under the TIGER grant program, funded by $600 million in the USDOT budget, meet a broad array of challenges, including:
- Bridge replacements or reconstruction in Seattle, WA; Portsmouth, NH; Kittery, ME; and Ann Arbor, MI to ensure users in urban and rural areas are safe and communities can stay connected via these crucial arteries.
- The creation of a new streetcar line in downtown Atlanta, building a vital rail link in Los Angeles’ transit network, and the rebuilding of a busy transit station in Cleveland to offer vital transportation options to residents.
- Investments in freight transportation including $10.5 million for new port cranes in Providence, R.I. and $16 million to rebuild a rail line connecting two towns in South Dakota to move agricultural goods more efficiently, resulting in lower transportation costs, less wear on local roads, reduced fuel consumption, and additional long-term jobs.
- $16 million to remove an under-used freeway and restore an urban boulevard in downtown New Haven, Conn. that will generate 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs while catalyzing new development, enhancing economic competitiveness and making downtown more livable.
Peoria, Illinois received $10 million to help transform a city street from a dangerous arterial to a complete street safe for all users, a type of project that can be difficult to fund with traditional funds from the current federal transportation law. “I know things are tough at the federal and state level but they’re almost overwhelming for us at the local level,” said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.
“This transportation investment will do exactly what it is intended to do: generate economic recovery,” he added. “It will create much needed jobs during the construction phase, but also hundreds of jobs from the private development resulting from this investment to make a complete, safe, livable street in Peoria. Without these kinds of focused investments from the federal government, local government could not possibly afford to make the same investment.”
“Almost all of these projects have two things in common,” said James Corless, the director of Transportation for America. ”They all will create desperately-needed jobs while building critical transportation infrastructure, and they have a hard time getting funded under the outdated structure of the current federal transportation program,”
“Just like the $1.5 billion in grants from earlier this year, these projects in communities across the country will create good paying jobs, spur local economic development, and keep our metro and rural areas connected,” Corless added. “Once again, the administration is responding to the demand for funding that can help make communities of all sizes more livable, more competitive and more connected.”
A complete list of TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) recipients can be found here on the DOT website: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/dot18810.html
Project applications had to show multiple benefits, with priority given to these criteria: 1) that projects improve the condition of existing facilities and systems, 2) contribute to the economic competitiveness of the U.S. over the medium- to long-term, 3) improve the quality of living and working environments for people, 4) improve energy efficiency, reduce dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and benefit the environment, and 5) improve public safety.
As in the first round funded by the stimulus, U.S. DOT received overwhelming demand for the limited amount of money, receiving more than 1,000 applications totaling nearly $19 billion for just a $600 million pot.
“Competition breeds innovation and bottom up collaboration – two things we desperately need more of in our federal transportation program,” said Corless. “The Congress should follow the lead of their constituents clamoring to build these sorts of projects and authorize the surface transportation program along similar lines to support innovation and ensure that each transportation buck creates multiple bangs, in communities of all sizes.”