What May Be the Last TIGER Grants Trickled In
Regional announcements for 2017 TIGER awards are appearing, but the future of this funding that dates from 2009 is uncertain under the Trump Infrastructure Plan.
State departments of transportation are anxious to get their 2017 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants so they can use them for the spring construction season, according to a report in the Construction Equipment Guide.
Last week, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials an announcement would come soon, but the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has not released a full list of awards. Though a few 2017 TIGER grants have been announced regionally:
- Fort Smith, Arkansas, was awarded an $8.5 million TIGER grant for repairing and rehabilitating three rail bridges, according to Progressive Railroading.
- The Alabama State Port Authority was awarded a $12.7 million TIGER grant to convert a facility at Port of Mobile for vehicle processing, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
- Gallatin County, Montana, received a $10.3 million TIGER grant to improve transportation to Big Sky, according to Senator Steve Daines.
- Mississippi State University received a $7 million TIGER grant to implement a two-mile multimodal corridor, according to the university website.
- Carson City, Nevada, received a $7.5 million TIGER grant to improve pedestrian safety and mobility, according to the Nevada Appeal.
- Tradepoint Atlantic has received a $20 million TIGER grant to pay for deep-water port dredging, as well as railway and highway improvements in Baltimore County, Maryland, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.
- The Illinois Department of Transportation was awarded a $7.6 million TIGER grant to improve I-57 for safety, according to the Southern Illinoisan.
Editor's Note: USDOT posted the awards list of 41 projects funded in 43 states.
Will TIGER Grants End?
In 2017, USDOT announced $1 billion total in TIGER awards and federal funding to be awarded at the beginning of this year. TIGER grants date back to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. According to Streetsblog USA, the White House does not plan to fund TIGER grants going forward, but Congress is still budgeting for the program.
Transportation Today reported that some contentious discussion over the Trump Infrastructure Plan took place in a meeting with Secretary Chao and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Representative Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut said the administration’s budget shifted the responsibility of funding infrastructure onto states and local governments:
...Given that states already provide the majority of funding for highway and transit projects, why does the federal government want to put more of the burden on local governments, many of which are already strained, and those that are struggling economically that need this the most are also going to be hit really hard by this shift."
Chao responded, "From the beginning of our history, a lot of the infrastructure was done by the local governments,” Chao said. “So there has been no rollback."
While President Donald Trump made it a campaign promise to address the nation's aging infrastructure, there has been discussion that the Federal government may reduce its role and investment in transportation funding.
Mayors and others have expressed concern over the Trump Infrastructure Plan:
“Giving us a nickel or a dime for every 95 cents or 90 cents we put in doesn’t allow you to count our dollars as your infrastructure package” - @MayorOfLA on Trump infrastructure plan: https://t.co/2xqGnsHKi6 via @GOVERNING #SOTU
— NRDC Urban Solutions (@NRDCSolutions) January 29, 2018