Forty-two capital construction projects and 33 planning projects in 40 states will share nearly $600 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s popular TIGER II program for major infrastructure projects ranging from highways and bridges to transit, rail and ports, Secretary Ray LaHood announced.
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II received nearly 1,000 construction grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
The tremendous demand for TIGER II project dollars follows a similar demand for TIGER I project dollars. On Feb. 17, 2009, the Department announced 51 grant awards from nearly 1,500 applications for TIGER I grants nationwide. The TIGER I requests were for almost $60 billion worth of projects, 40 times the $1.5 billion available under that program. TIGER I dollars were made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“These are innovative, 21st century projects that will change the U.S. transportation landscape by strengthening the economy and creating jobs, reducing gridlock and providing safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices,” said LaHood. “Many of these projects could not have been funded without this program.”
Roughly 29 percent of TIGER II money goes for road projects, 26 percent for transit, 20 percent for rail projects, 16 percent for ports, four percent for bicycle and pedestrian projects and five percent for planning projects.
An example of projects funded is $47.6 million to the city of Atlanta to construct a new streetcar line connecting many of the most important downtown residential, cultural, educational and historic centers, demonstrating the department’s commitment to improving quality of life in major metropolitan areas.
TIGER II also provided $20 million to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to replace the deteriorating Memorial Bridge that connects Portsmouth, N.H., with Kittery, Maine. The bridge is at the end of its service life and has a bridge sufficiency rating of six out of 100. Safety concerns recently required a maximum three-ton weight restriction on the bridge, causing all truck traffic to be detoured. The project demonstrates the department’s commitment to bringing the nation’s aging road and highway infrastructure to a state of good repair.
In addition, TIGER II funds are being used to support a $546 million TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line, a key piece of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative to construct 12 major transit projects in 10 years rather than 30, exemplifying the department’s commitment to bold, regional transportation projects that create jobs in the short term while reinvesting in long term economic competitiveness and livability.
Under TIGER II, more than $140 million is reserved for projects in rural areas. As a competitive program, TIGER II is able to fund the best projects from around the country. Using merit-based evaluation criteria allows the Department of Transportation to address some of the nation’s most critical challenges like sustainability and economic competitiveness.
This marks the first time that the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have joined together in awarding grants for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing and urban development. Almost 700 applicants sought up to $35 million in TIGER II planning grants and up to $40 million in HUD Sustainable Community Challenge Grants. HUD’s funds can be used for localized planning efforts, such as development around a transit stop and zone or building code updates and improvements. The two departments, along with assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, participated in the evaluation of the planning grant applications.
To ensure the important investments made by the Recovery Act continue, President Obama recently announced a comprehensive infrastructure investment plan that would be front-loaded with $50 billion to expand and renew America’s roads, railways and runways.
TIGER II grants were awarded to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area. The projects chosen demonstrate 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/or enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections. The Department also gave priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity.