TIGER II Grant Winners Announced; No Money for Jax

October 28, 2010 33 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Emphasizing limited investments in small and mid-sized communities, the U.S. Department of Transportation has finally revealed the list of projects that will be funded under the $600 million TIGER II grant program. Unfortunately, nothing in Jacksonville made the cut.

Salt Lake City's proposed Sugar House Streetcar


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.

Applications for grants had to be submitted by September 15, 2009, with grants to be announced by February 17, 2010. "State and local governments, including U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other political subdivisions of State or local governments, and multi-State or multi-jurisdictional applicants" could receive funding for surface transportation projects "that have a significant impact on desirable long-term outcomes for the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region." 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 transportation projects, passenger and freight rail transport 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 rich get richer: The Sugar House Streetcar is a 2.74 mile planned streetcar service in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah. Of the estimated $55 million project cost, Salt Lake City has provided $2.5 million in funding, and applied for $35 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding. An application was not approved in early 2010, but the project was granted $26 million Tiger II funding on October 20, 2010. The line should open at the end of 2012 or in early 2013.  This streetcar line will be in addition to the 88 miles of commuter rail and 19 miles of light rail already operating in this metropolitan area, which has 197,851 fewer residents than the Jacksonville Metro Area.

Significant Jacksonville Projects Submitted for TIGER II Funding Assistance

Here are three local projects that were submitted and denied TIGER II funding assistance.

$50 million - JTA request for Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center Phase 1 construction

$10 million - JAXPORT request for crane at Blount Island Marine Terminal

$1 million - JTA request for commuter rail planning grant

Orlando was granted $10 million to help pay for their $106 million/1.9 mile bus rapid transit project that will connect the neighborhood of Parramore with a nearby future Sunrail commuter rail station.

Florida's largest grant will be going to Jacksonville's Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) and the Port of Miami to reactivate a 4-mile rail line and port intermodal rail terminal.  This $22 million grant is expected to help fund a $47 million project that will remove an estimated 120,000 annual 17-mile truck trips between the Port of Miami and FEC's Hialeah railyard.

TIGER II Grant Winners

Quote of the Day for Jacksonville

"Better luck next time."

Article by Ennis Davis