DOT doles out about $500 million in TIGER funding
June 25, 2012
United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said announced the latest round of funding for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2012 program.
LaHood said that 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia will receive about $500 million in TIGER grant funding.
The objective of the TIGER program is to ensure that economic funding is rapidly made available for transportation infrastructure projects and that project spending is monitored and transparent.
And as has been the case with previous rounds of funding, TIGER grant levels has typically exceeded the level of available funding, with applications for TIGER 2012 grants at $10.2 billion well above the available $500 million the program has available. DOT officials said it received 703 applications for TIGER grants.
“President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation for generations to come,” said LaHood in a statement. “TIGER projects mean good transportation jobs today and a stronger economic future for the nation.”
The federal government has had four rounds of TIGER funding, with the most recent one coming last November through President Obama’s FY 2012 Appropriations Act, which has $500 million for transportation infrastructure projects.
DOT officials added that the first four rounds of TIGER funding were comprised of $3.1 billion to 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. And during these four rounds, the DOT said it received more than 4,050 applications requesting more than $105.2 billion for nationwide transportation projects. In the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill in the Senate, there is another $500 million in its language for a future round of TIGER grants, said DOT.
Selection criteria for TIGER grants includes: contributing to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation; improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems; improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and improving the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections.
Of the 47 transportation projects receiving funding last week, about 35 percent of that funding will be allocated towards road and bridge projects, and 12 percent will go towards freight rail projects, including parts of CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program to reduce Chicago-area freight rail congestion, which will receive $10.44 million. Another 12 percent will go towards port projects, including the Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal at the Port of Oakland, which will receive $15 million.
William Schroeer, state policy director for Smart Growth America, told LM in a previous interview that the TIGER freight-related projects—especially the rail-focused projects—provide myriad benefits for freight transportation and logistics industry stakeholders.
“The freight-related projects will create more options—especially the option of getting freight off the roads and into trains,” said Schroeer. “But the rail freight projects didn’t make the cut in the intensely competitive TIGER program because they benefit shippers and providers. These projects made the cut because they will create so many different kinds of benefits, such as reduced road congestion, reduced pollution, and reduced road maintenance needs.”
And Mort Downey, senior advisor at infrastructure firm Parsons-Brinkerhoff, said in order for these projects to be considered successful, they ultimately need to deliver.
“These grants are important on the job creation front and even more importation on the long-term economic growth front—particularly for the freight projects,” noted Downey. “The freight projects in particular have very large cost-benefit potential and are largely focused on shippers in terms of supply chain efficiency and reducing inventories and [transit time] delays. A lot of these projects were ‘partnership projects’ between entities like railroads and ports, and TIGER money acted as the closer to make these deals work.”
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