State, local, other government entities to compete for transportation project funding
The fourth round of the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is soliciting applications from qualified state and local government and quasi-government subdivisions for $500 million in available program funding.
The funds are for surface transportation projects nationwide such as highways, ports, commuter rail, streetcars, buses and high-speed rail.
Applicants can include state, local and tribal governments, including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other political subdivisions of state or local governments, and multi-state or multi-jurisdictional groups applying through a single lead applicant.
Texas projects have been awarded collectively $97 million in TIGER grants since 2009. Because the funds were just announced this week, TxDOT spokesperson Mark Cross said TxDOT officials are unsure if they will apply for projects in Texas. â€œItâ€™s too early to tell,â€ said Cross.
Nationwide, the three previous rounds of TIGER grants provided $2.6 billion for 172 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In Texas, 2009 TIGER grant funding included:
– $20 million to support a direct Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan of approximately $400 million for the Texas State Highway 161 project, sponsored by the North Texas Tollway Authority. The total cost of the project, which was designed to improve the regionâ€™s transportation network and service level, was estimated at $1.3 billion.
– $23 million for a proposed downtown streetcar line in Dallas. This project, sponsored by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, would begin downtown and run through the largest job center in the North Texas area, allowing stops at the Dallas Convention Center and Hotel, Trinity River Park, Methodist Medical Center and various residential areas. TIGER funding in the Lone Star State for 2010 included:
– $34 million toward a total cost of $91.2 million for Tower 55, a major rail and traffic bottleneck in downtown Fort Worth where two rail lines cross. TxDOT was both the applicant and sponsor for the project. The goal of the project was to improve the flow of train traffic there by adding another north-south track and installing equipment that would help reduce accidents. Also included was improvements to bridges and underpasses, city streets and intersections and other improvements.
Last year, two Texas projects garnered TIGER funds:
– The Westside Multimodal Transit Center project was awarded $15 million in TIGER funds toward a $35 million project of VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority in San Antonio. The project called for building a transit plaza to serve as a multimodal hub for San Antonioâ€™s current and planned bus routes, downtown streetcar, intercity bus and bus rapid transit service. It was also designed to meet the need of bicyclists and pedestrians.
– The Dart Orange Line Extension project in Dallas, part of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the applicant and sponsor, was awarded a grant of $5 million. Those funds were to be used to help defray the projected $429.5 million cost for the completion of the final segment of a 14.5-mile light rail link from downtown Dallas to DFW International Airport, with a new station at Terminal A. High-speed rail and intercity rail projects, just like in previous rounds of the grant funding, are eligible for grant funds. These types of projects can be awarded up to $100 million, while another $120 million has been set aside for rural transportation projects.
The competitive grants will be awarded based on criteria that includes safety, economic competitiveness, livability, environmental sustainability, state of repair and short-term job creation.
TxDOT officials and other government subdivision officials in the state wonâ€™t have much time to consider possible projects. Pre-applications for the TIGER funding are due Feb. 20 and applications are due March 19.