Nearly 1,000 construction grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia far exceeded the $600 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II dollars the U.S. DOT can award for infrastructure projects ranging from highways and bridges to transit and ports, Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Sept. 24. The announcement followed the August deadline for submissions.
The overwhelming demand for TIGER II grants continues a trend. Last Feb. 17, the U.S. DOT 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.
“The wave of applications for both TIGER II and TIGER I dollars shows the back-log of needed infrastructure improvements and the desire for more flexible funds,” said LaHood. “This also shows the opportunities still before us to create jobs, to reduce congestion, make wise environmental choices and help generate lasting economic growth.”
The $600 million in TIGER II grants is for capital investment in surface transportation projects. Up to $35 million can be used for planning grants. The U.S. DOT has partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer TIGER II planning grants along with HUD’s $40 million in Community Challenge Planning Grants.
Almost 700 applications were received for DOT or HUD planning 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. Combining these funds will provide applicants with one-stop shopping and greater consistency for community development projects that include both transportation and housing or economic development components. The U.S. DOT and HUD, along with assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will participate in the evaluation of the planning grant applications.
TIGER II grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area. The projects sought are those that 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 U.S. DOT also will give priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity.