Senator Durbin proposes permanent TIGER
By Chrissy Mancini Nichols
May 13, 2011
This post first appeared at metroplanning.org
We applaud U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) desire to make the TIGER program permanent. Joined by U.S. Sens. Murray (D-Wash.) and Collins (R-Maine), Durbin introduced the bipartisan Transportation Infrastructure Grants and Economic Reinvestment Act (TIGER), a bill that would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to provide grants and direct loans and loan guarantees to states, local governments, and transit agencies to fund critical projects of national significance.
“Two years ago, we worked to develop the TIGER grant program as a coordinated, comprehensive effort to identify and fund nationally significant transportation projects that will improve safety, spur economic development, reduce congestion and create thousands of good paying jobs across the country,” said Sen. Durbin. “It gives local communities and mayors the chance to showcase their best transportation projects and, for the first time, allows them to apply directly to the federal government for funding.”
The TIGER Act, which authorizes funding for the TIGER grant program that Sen. Murray created in 2009, invests in a variety of transportation modes, selects projects through a transparent, competitive and merit-based process, and requires the Secretary of Transportation to provide a full description of how applications will be evaluated. The grant program also ensures that projects across the country are funded, and includes several provisions to balance the needs of urban and rural areas.
The TIGER I program (distributed in February 2010) was met with overwhelming demand from cities, regions, and states across the country: More than 1,400 applications were filed, representing all 50 states and totaling almost $60 billion in requests for $1.5 billion in available funds. The overwhelming demand for TIGER I resulted in a $600 million TIGER II program. Seventy projects from the 1,000 applications were awarded funding in last October, including a streetcar in Atlanta and a rail station in Niagara Falls, New York.
Guided by the livability principals, the TIGER program awards grants on a competitive basis. Measures include the project’s long-term outcomes, contributing to economic competitiveness, improving quality of life, reducing dependence on oil, reducing greenhouse gasses, creating jobs, and using innovative strategies. Priority is granted to projects that demonstrate strong collaboration between interjurisdictional partners.
Precisely because there is a limited supply of federal dollars for transportation funding, we must evaluate potential investments based on their ability to reduce hours spent in traffic, curb emissions, and connect affordable homes and jobs, which is what Sen. Durbin has proposed in the TIGER Act. The criteria should not be about how much is spent, but rather whether each investment gets us closer to our overarching goals.
Several projects have been funded under the TIGER grant program in Illinois including $100 million in funding for the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program, which is unlocking freight and commuter gridlock in our region by making critically needed infrastructure improvement; $10 million grant for the Moline Multimodal Transportation Center to establish true multimodal connections between local buses, taxis, bicycle and pedestrian facilities; and $10 million for the Peoria - Warehouse District Complete Streets Project for design a construction of a Complete Streets network in Peoria’s downtown warehouse district to revitalize the area through mixed-use development, combining homes with shopping and work destinations.
MPC urges you to call you local representative to support the TIGER Act. Click here to find your representative.