The U.S. Department of Transportation has finally revealed the list of projects that will be funded under the $511 million TIGER III grant program. After three years of coming up empty, a Jacksonville project has finally made it to the winner's circle. Here is a description of the program and the full list of winners.
What Is TIGER?
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) is a supplementary discretionary grant program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The legislation provides $1.5 billion for a National Surface Transportation System through September 30, 2011, "to be awarded on a competitive basis for capital investments in surface transportation projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area or a region." Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the program on February 4, 2009. Lana T. Hurdle, deputy assistant secretary for budget and programs, and Joel Szabat, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy, co-chaired the team responsible for selecting projects and watching over spending.
Specifics of the program
TIGER grants are awarded to transportation projects that have a significant national or regional impact. 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. The Department also gives priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate increases in economic activity.
Under Title 23 of the United States Code, these could include improvements to interstate highways, reworking of interchanges, bridge replacements or earthquake-related improvements, relocations of roads, and upgrading of the "rural collector road system". Other eligible projects include certain public transit projects, passenger and freight rail transportation projects, and port infrastructure. Selected projects might improve the economy of the entire country, transportation safety, and quality of life for communities. They might also reduce energy dependence or environmental problems. Job creation is also a priority, which would likely require the project to be shovel ready. Long-term benefit would also give a project a better chance of approval. Most grants would be between $20 million and $100 million, but exceptions are possible. Priority is given to projects with other sources of funding. No more than 20 percent of eligible funds may go to one state.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) received 848 project applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, requesting a total of $14.29 billion, far exceeding the $511 million made available for grants under the TIGER III program. The continuing demand for TIGER grants highlights the need for further investment in the nations transportation infrastructure that could be provided by President Obamas American Jobs Act. 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. It would also provide $10 billion for the creation of a bipartisan National Infrastructure bank.
Jacksonville's Winning Grant
JAXPORT applied for $25 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help in developing a $45 million railyard near Blount Island. This railyard would allow for cargo containers to be transferred between ships and trains. On December 12, 2011, it was announced that JAXPORT would receive $10 million from the federal grant program's rural award category to assist in the development of the project.
What's Next? TIGER IV
In terms of the next round of the TIGER program, the recently completed fiscal-year 2012 appropriations process in Congress included $500 million for a TIGER IV program, which will be put into motion next year, NRC officials said in a special bulletin.
Full List of 2011 TIGER Grant III Award Recipients (Click on images to enlarge)
Article by Ennis Davis