The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced that it has opened the competition for the sixth round of the popular TIGER discretionary grant program, which makes $600 million available in fiscal year 2014 for eligible infrastructure projects.
Congress included the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) money, a 20-percent increase from last year’s $474 million appropriation, in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for the current fiscal year that President Obama signed in January.
TIGER was created in the 2009 Recovery Act and has been annually funded by Congress ever since, for a total of $4.1 billion. It gives DOT more flexibility to award money to freight and multi-regional projects that normally don’t qualify for formula-based federal aid to states that is geared to highways. The program has received widespread praise for being fairly successful in making award decisions based on metrics that show the likelihood of economic development and job creation, congestion reduction, making communities more livable and pollution mitigation.
Eligible applicants include states and local governments, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations or multi-jurisdictional groups applying through a lead sponsor and including private sector interests. The TIGER funds leverage money contributed by the project partners.
Railroad and port projects have fared well in the past, taking a third of the money awarded so far. But freight-related projects may take a back seat in this round, which will emphasize assisting transportation options "that improve connections for both urban and rural communities, making it easier for residents to reach work, school and other ladders of opportunity. While continuing to support projects of all types, DOT will prioritize applications for capital projects that better connect people to jobs, training and other opportunities, promote neighborhood redevelopment and reconnect neighborhoods divided by physical barriers, such as highways and railroads," according to the TIGER Notice of Funding Availability.
Separating roadways and rail lines would be beneficial for freight railroads because it would allow trains to operate at higher speeds and reduce the potential for accidents.
The application deadline is close of business on April 28.