DOT’s TIGER continues to roar
September 18, 2013
In case you did not notice, Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced that the DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) 2013 program received roughly $474 million for 52 transportation projects in 37 states.
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.
With this most recent round of funding, its fifth, as well as its predecessors, TIGER grant levels again exceeded the level of available funding, with applications for this round of grants topping $9 billion.
As reported in LM, funding for this round was made available through the White House’s FY 2013 Appropriations Act, with grants made available for capital investments in infrastructure that are awarded on a competitive basis based on published selection criteria.
And when these grants were issued, DOT said that the TIGER program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for large, multi-modal projects that are not often suitable for other federal funding sources, adding that these federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and transit agencies. DOT also said that the 2013 TIGER funding supports $1.8 billion in overall project investments.
This round of TIGER funding comes at a time when transportation infrastructure funding remains, to an extent, in limbo, given the relatively brief duration of the current federal transportation bill, MAP-21, which is set to expire next year and the Highway Trust Fund, which is insolvent and whose revenues come from the gasoline tax, which has not been raised since 1993.
This is what makes TIGER a good— make that a great—thing for infrastructure in the United States. Heightening that is the fact that earlier this year the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+, a notch above the D it received in the last Report in 2009.
What’s more, yesterday, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons along with Building America’s Future (BAF) Co-Chair and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell rolled out a new survey that highlights manufacturers’ concerns about America’s roads and bridges, transit and aviation systems and ports.
The survey was based on feedback from more than 400 manufacturers, many of whom maintain U.S. “infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse,” coupled with the belief that the U.S. infrastructure is not positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy, according to the survey.
Back to TIGER, though. According to the Coalition of America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC), 25 of the 52 grants are dedicated to freight or have some sort of freight focus, representing more than $205 million—or 43 percent of the $474 million awarded in this round of funding.
This is real money and real numbers, which don’t lie. TIGER is working and roaring and more projects like it or more funding allocated to the TIGER program are needed.
To put that into a bit better perspective, look at it from this perspective: through the first five rounds of TIGER, demand has topped available funding levels every time. DOT has received more than 5,200 applications totaling more than $114.2 billion, with TIGER dishing out about $3.6 billion to 270 projects.
“TIGER is terribly popular, and there is a growing body of work that shows not only has it been popular but it has also been quite cost-effective for the government when leveraging TIGER with non-federal sources more and more localities are starting to understand the cost benefit approach,” said Leslie Blakey, CAGTC Executive Director. “TIGER is showing better and better results and DOT has gained experience in managing the program which is resulting in a very high quality of product.”
And TIGER’s future looks bright, too, said Blakey, considering that it is a fairly small program relative to the entire U.S. transportation program, which helps to reduce pressure on Congress when it comes to continue funding it.
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