DOT speeds up TIGER funding

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced yesterday that 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $511 million from the third round of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced yesterday that 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $511 million from the third round of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program.

LaHood said the announcement came “months ahead of schedule” and will enable communities “to move forward with critical, job-creating infrastructure projects including road and bridge improvements; transit upgrades; freight, port and rail expansions; and new options for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

DOT received 848 project applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, requesting a total of $14.29 billion. “The overwhelming demand for these grants clearly shows that communities across the country can’t afford to wait any longer for Congress to put Americans to work building the transportation projects that are critical to our economic future,” said LaHood.

“That’s why we’ve taken action to get these grants out the door quickly, and that is why we will continue to ask Congress to make the targeted investments we need to create jobs, repair our nation’s transportation systems, better serve the traveling public and our nation’s businesses, factories and farms, and make sure our economy continues to grow,” he added.

Last month, according to LaHood, President Obama directed DOT to take “commonsense steps” to expedite transportation projects by accelerating the review and approval process and by leveraging private-sector funding to promote growth and job creation. As part of that initiative, DOT accelerated its TIGER III application review process, enabling it to announce these funding awards months ahead of the planned spring 2012 announcement.

Per DOT, the grants will fund a range of innovative transportation projects in urban and rural areas:

  • Of the $511 million in TIGER III funds available for grants, more than $150 million will go to critical projects in rural areas
  • Roughly 48% of the funding will go to road and bridge projects, including more than $64 million for “Complete Streets “projects that will “spur small business growth and benefit motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians”
  • 29% of the funding will support transit projects, such as the Westside Multimodal Transit Center in San Antonio.
  • 12% will help build port projects, such as Port of New Orleans Rail Yard Improvements.
  • 10% will go to freight rail projects, such as the Muldraugh Bridge Replacement in Kentucky.
  • Three grants were directed to tribal governments to create jobs and address critical transportation needs in Indian country.
  • Three grants will provide better multimodal access to airports, including DFW in Texas.

Delving into the complete list of grant recipients reveals at least ten among the Fiscal Year 2011 projects to be funded that should be of interest to trucking:

  • I-95 High-Occupancy Tolling (HOT) Lanes, Virginia, $20,000,000
  • St. Louis CityArchRiver Revitalization, Missouri, $20,000,000
  • State Route 91 Corridor Improvements, California, $20,000,000
  • Sellwood Bridge Replacement, Oregon, $17,700,000
  • I-5 Lewis-McChord Area Congestion Management, Washington, $15,000,000
  • Saddle Road Improvements, Hawaii,I $13,500,000
  • I-95/US-301 Interchange Improvement, South Carolina, $12,100,000
  • Kennebec Bridge Replacement, Maine, $10,810,000
  • IL 83 (147th Street) Reconstruction, Illinois, $10,438,000
  • Mississippi River Bridges ITS, Mississippi/Arkansas/Louisiana, $9,814,700

Work has already begun on 33 planning projects while 58 capital projects are under way across the country from the previous two rounds of TIGER, according to DOT, and an additional 13 projects are expected to break ground over the next six months.

In 2009 and 2010, DOT said it received a total of 2,400 applications requesting $76 billion, greatly exceeding the $2.1 billion available in the TIGER I and TIGER II grant programs. In the previous two rounds, the TIGER program awarded grants to 126 freight, highway, transit, port and bicycle/pedestrian projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

TIGER grants are awarded to transportation projects that have a significant national or regional impact. DOT said projects are chosen for their “ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections.” DOT o gives priority to projects that are “expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate increases in economic activity.”

According to LaHood, the continuing demand for TIGER grants highlights the need for further investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure that could be provided by President Obama’s American Jobs Act.

LaHood noted the American Jobs Act would provide $50 billion to improve 150,000 miles of road, replace 4,000 miles of track, and restore 150 miles of runways, “creating jobs for American workers and building a safer, more efficient transportation network.” He added that it would also provide $10 billion for the creation of a bipartisan National Infrastructure bank.

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