Transportation infrastructure: DOT awards nearly $600 million in TIGER II funding
October 21, 2010
The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it has awarded nearly $600 million in funding from its TIGER II program for various transportation infrastructure-related projects.
TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II follows the original $1.5 billion TIGER program, which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and distributed grants to 51 projects out of more than 1,400 applications for almost $60 billion worth of projects that came in throughout the country. Of the 51 recipients, 22 centered on projects pertaining to goods movement. These funds were awarded in February 2010.
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.
In terms of selection criteria for TIGER II grants, submissions required: 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.
According to the DOT, TIGER II funding went towards 42 capital construction projects and 33 planning projects in 40 states. And DOT said that roughly 29 percent of TIGER II funding was for road projects, 26 percent for transit, 20 percent for rail projects, 16 percent for ports, 4 percent for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and five percent for planning projects.
Some of the freight-specific projects receiving funding were:
-Great Plains Freight Rail (KS and OK), $10.2 million;
-Port Manatee Marine Highway (FL), $9 million;
-Port of Miami rail access (FL), $22.8 million;
-West Vancouver Freight Access (WA), $10 million;
- South Park Bridge Replacement, (WA), $34 million;
- West Basin Railyard project at the Port of Los Angeles, $16 million;
-Coos Bay Rail Line, (OR), $13.6 million; and
- San Bernardino Airport Access project (CA), $10 million
As was the case in the initial TIGER funding, demand for dollars for myriad projects far exceeded what was available. In September, the DOT said that it had received nearly 1,000 construction grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia for the $600 million in available funding.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was step one and has financed nearly 15,000 transportation projects across every state in the country,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood on a conference call yesterday. “It has improved 40,000 miles of roadways and will connect 80 percent of Americans with a high speed rail network within the next quarter century. And through the TIGER grant program, the Recovery Act is also funding $1.5 billion in merit-based projects across the country.”
In terms of next possible steps for the TIGER program, LaHood said that TIGER is included as part of the federal transportation DOT/HUD bill, which recently was passed in both the House and Senate. Although the funding levels are different in the House and Senate, LaHood said he is pleased that Congress realizes that the TIGER program allows for creative and innovative opportunities that don’t fall under the traditional formulas that have been used by the DOT.
“I think Congress gets it, and we are pleased and grateful that Congress understands this is an important program,” said LaHood.
In an interview with LM earlier this year, Mort Downey, senior advisor at infrastructure firm Parsons-Brinkerhoff, described the TIGER grant award winners as the “cream of the crop.”
The criterion used by the DOT to select projects was fundamentally cost-benefit analysis, and this bodes well for the freight-related projects that were selected. But in order for these projects to be considered successful, Downey said 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.”
The TIGER II grants were also warmly received by a prominent transportation infrastructure concern.
“Today’s announcement reaffirms that competitive grants with objective, merit-based criteria are an effective way to invest in the nation’s multimodal infrastructure,” said Leslie Blakey, executive director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) in a statement. “These commerce-moving projects create jobs and other benefits up and down the supply chain, and are vital to the US economy.”
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