U.S. DOT says TIGER grants remain in high demand
April 06, 2012
While transportation infrastructure funding on a federal level continues to be strung along by a series of continuing resolutions to keep federal funding for surface transportation intact at current levels, one area which remains in high demand is the United States Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program.
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.
The DOT said this week that overwhelming demand for TIGER grants has again 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 in its coffers. DOT added that it received 703 applications for TIGER grants from across the country.
“President Obama has challenged us to invest in an America that is built to last, and it’s clear that communities across America can’t afford to wait any longer to get started,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “At a time when gas prices are high, it’s more important than ever that we invest in projects that will relieve congestion, improve the safety of our transportation systems, and provide Americans with affordable, efficient options for reaching their destinations.”
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 three rounds of TIGER funding were comprised of $2.6 billion to 172 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. And during the previous three rounds, the DOT said it received more than 3,348 applications requesting more than $95 billion for nationwide transportation projects.
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.
In a previous interview with LM, 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.”
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