Federal Government Gives Away Billions for Transportation

Last year the Department of Transportation announced TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grants of $1.5 billion for transportation improvements or initiatives put forth by state and local governments, U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities, and metropolitan planning organizations.

Over $56 billion in funds were requested for the mere $1.5 billion available under the project, so many locations, people, and ideas were left out in the cold.

Clearly this is an area where the government needs to focus more of their budgeting.

The goals of the TIGER grants are:

  • preserving and creating jobs and promoting economic recovery (every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, while the same amount spent on highway infrastructure projects produced 8,781 job-months.)
  • investing in transportation infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits
  • assisting those most affected by the current economic downturn.

Secretary LaHood added “TIGER grants will reflect the desire for livable communities that are well-coordinated and open to new opportunities.”

Winners and Losers

Greater Greater Washington has a great analysis of the regional award in the DC area, reflecting on what won (Priority Bus) and what lost (bikes and transit), and Beyond DC has the financial break down of the $58.8 million the Washington area received.

Elena Schor at Streetsblog DC takes a look at the initiatives that will benefit nationwide, including streetcars, rail freight, and multimodal projects. Road-only projects that did not make room for transit, pedestrians, or bikes were largely given the thumbs down, receiving only one-eight of the available funds ($180 million), despite making up nearly 60% of the requests.

Very unfortunately, bicycle and pedestrian projects were essentially ignored, but the fact that DOT saw the necessity of moving away from road/car-only proposals in favor of space, time, and resource-efficient transit is an important step for the present and the future.

Now it’s time to make room for bikes and pedestrians, on a national level.

The full list of award is available in PDF form here.

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