As the Winter Olympics play out in Vancouver, fierce competition of another sort culminated in the U.S. Wednesday with the announcement of the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants.
The TIGER program was included in the Recovery Act to spur a national competition for innovative, multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects that promise significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, a region or the nation.
DC Streetsblog offered a roundup of the ideas that won and those that lost out bigtime. The analysis revealed that the funds veered away from “car-centric” thinking. This year’s TIGER eyes seemed fixed upon transit and related clean projects, while roads were somewhat snubbed, garnering a mere one-eighth of the program’s $1.5 billion of available funding--despite the fact that roads proposals made up 57% of applications.
The TIGER “gold medal” went to a $105 million Norfolk Southern project aiming to divert shipping traffic from trucks to trains, and upgrade passenger rail service from the Gulf Coast through the Mid-Atlantic.
The second most expensive prize went to CREATE, which aims to create car and pedestrian routes around rail tracks and separate passenger and freight routes in an effort to enhance freight mobility around Chicago. The award is worth $100 million.
Next came $98 million for another freight corridor called The National Gateway plan along CSX rail shipping lines in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
A significant roads project that managed to win TIGER’s pursuit was Texas' tolled Highway 161, which won $20 million in grant funding to support its $400 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation's federal financing program for local infrastructure work.
Overall, DC Streetsblog concluded, Southeastern and Midwestern freight rail projects were the most successful competitors of TIGER.