The sixth round of TIGER grants is heavily oversubscribed, with application requests running 15 times above the amount of money available for the competitive multimodal program, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday.
The department received 797 applications this year, compared to 585 in 2013, seeking a combined total of $9.5 billion in aid. Congress has appropriated $600 million for eligible infrastructure projects, which represents a 20-percent increase from the $474 million available in the previous funding round.
Applicants include states and local governments, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations or other groups that contribute their own funds and often receive contributions from private sector partners.
TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) is a popular program, especially among freight interests and municipalities, because it supports projects that typically aren't funded by states through federal formula-based highway aid. Projects that are regional and require multi-jurisdiction collaboration, are freight-related and involve ports, railroads and intermodal transport have been beneficiaries of previous funding rounds. Applicants are required to demonstrate how the project will meet federal criteria for promoting economic development, reducing congestion and pollution, and creating communities less dependent on automobiles.
Since 2009, the TIGER program has provided $3.5 billion to 270 projects around the country. During the previous five rounds, the DOT received more than 5,300 applications seeking more than $115 billion to leverage local funding for projects.
President Obama's surface transportation reauthorization proposal, the GROW America Act, would provide $5 billion for TIGER over four years.