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USDOT doles out TIGER II grants for 75 transportation projects

Although about 1,000 applicants sought TIGER II grants totaling more than $19 billion, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) ultimately whittled down the list of recipients to 75 for the $600 million available in the second phase of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

Yesterday, the USDOT announced 42 capital construction projects and 33 planning projects in 40 states will receive TIGER II grants. About 29 percent of the grants target road projects, 26 percent cover transit projects, 20 percent touch on rail projects and 16 percent will help fund port projects.

“These are innovative, 21st Century projects that will change the U.S. transportation landscape by strengthening the economy and creating jobs, reducing gridlock and providing safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement. “Many of these projects could not have been funded without this program.”

Capital grant amounts and recipients include:
• $47.7 million for the Atlanta streetcar project;
• $34 million for the Tower 55 project in Fort Worth, Texas;
• $26 million for the Sugar House streetcar project in South Salt Lake City;
• $22.7 million for the Port of Miami rail access project;
• $20 million for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line;
• $16.5 million for the Niagara Falls, N.Y., rail station;
• $16 million for the reconstruction of MRC Railroad in South Dakota;
• $16 million for the Port of Los Angeles West Basin rail yard project;
• $14.1 million for the Minot, N.D., grade separation project;
• $13.5 million for the Coos Bay rail line project in Oregon;
• $10.5 million for the Aroostook rail preservation project in Maine; and
• $10.2 million for the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad’s track, bridge and locomotive shop projects in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Planning grant amounts and recipients include:
• $2.2 million for the Newark train station improvement plan in Delaware;
• $950,000 for the downtown intermodal terminal in Madison, Wis.;
• $800,000 for the South Shore commuter-rail realignment study in Indiana; and
• $700,000 for the Lexington multi-modal station area plan in North Carolina.

However, a number of transportation projects didn’t make the cut, including an intermodal yard and warehousing operation proposed by CSX Corp., Shipyard Creek Associates and the city of North Charleston, S.C., the proposed Mid-America Intermodal Port in Quincy, Ill., and a planned streetcar system in Tucson, Ariz.

The Transportation Equity Network (TEN) lauded the grants, which reward innovation — making them a “valuable model” for future transportation funding — and create jobs, said Executive Director Laura Barrett in a prepared statement.

“The TIGER grants recognize that transportation is about access to opportunity and community by encouraging projects that address numerous issues at once: mobility, affordable housing, job creation and environmental sustainability,” she said. “The grants address the dramatic imbalance between highway funding and transit funding at the federal level, which is currently 80-20 in favor of highways.”

But public interest group Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) blasted the “anti-mobility” grants, which “fail to address fundamental problems with the current transportation system, and in fact make them worse,” CEI officials said in a prepared statement.

“Those concerned with tackling the real issues facing America’s surface transportation system —namely congestion— should be outraged,” said Marc Scribner, CEI’s land-use and transportation policy analyst. “Pedestrian and transit-user access is certainly important. However, outside of a few dense coastal cities, these modes of commuting represent a small percentage of overall transportation system use.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/21/2010