TIGER demand underscores infra investment need

Applications for this year’s TIGER grants totaled $9.5bn, far exceeding the $600m set aside for 2014 and highlighting the need for further investment in transportation infra, Secretary Foxx says.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) received 797 eligible applications totaling $9.5 billion for the sixth round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, demonstrating the continued need for transportation investment nationwide, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

The number of applications was significantly higher than the 585 submitted in 2013, and came from 49 states, the District of Columbia and US territories.

“The continued overwhelming demand for these grants demonstrates that communities want the kind of long-term funding our Grow America Acts provides to build transportation projects across the country,” he said, referring to the transportation bill he sent to Congress for consideration in late April.

The Grow America Act allocates $5 billion over a four-year period to the TIGER programme, which offers federal funding possibilities for large, game-changing multi-modal projects.

However, a transportation bill introduced and unanimously approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee last week, does not include many of the proposals put forward in the Grow America Act.

Aside from not including any provisions for the TIGER programme, the MAP-21 Reauthorisation bill also does not lift restrictions that would allow states to toll interstates.

Instead, the bipartisan bill – co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer, David Vitter, Tom Carper, and John Barrasso – would reauthorise the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) currently in force but due to expire in September, at current funding levels plus inflation through 2020.

“Today’s passage sends a powerful signal to our colleagues and to our nation that we are serious about addressing the looming funding crisis in the Highway Trust Fund,” Boxer, a Democrat from California and the committee’s chairman said.

In its current form, the bill addresses only roads and bridges, not rail or mass transit. However, it will also be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and the Committee on Finance, which will decide how the bill will be funded.

The House of Representatives has not yet introduced its version of a surface transportation bill, but the lower chamber’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is developing one, according to a spokesperson for Committee chairman and Representative of Pennsylvania Bill Shuster.