A Department of Transportation discretionary grant pool for 2010 awards drew thousands of pre-applications seeking tens of billions of dollars to aid infrastructure projects, from a “TIGER II” fund that has $600 million to spend.
DOT officials told The Journal of Commerce that more than 2,300 pre-apps came in by the July 16 deadline, seeking about $26 billion in federal money.
That list could be whittled down before the final application deadline on Aug. 23, but it shows how many projects around the nation are competing for federal dollars to shore up ailing infrastructure or to make upgrades.
The grant pool was approved for the DOT by Congress as a follow-up to the popular $1.5 billion in discretionary grants the department is distributing from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That fund drew 1,400 applications totaling $57 billion in aid requests, but the DOT is spreading it among 51 construction projects. Those grants are going to a wide array of multi-modal freight rail, waterway, port and highway infrastructure projects, and some that target commuter travel.
While most of the ARRA’s $48 billion in total economic stimulus funds for the DOT are being parceled out under longstanding state allocation formulas for federal highway and transit funding, the measure also handed out $8 billion for the DOT to spend on intercity passenger rail development.
And it set aside the $1.5 billion for grants that DOT policymakers could spend on projects they deem especially important on a regional or national basis, not limited to traditional allocation formulas or transportation modes. The DOT labeled that fund as its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program, or TIGER. So when Congress gave it another $600 million to spend this year it called them TIGER II.
For the longer term, President Obama has asked Congress to create a $4 billion a year infrastructure fund that the DOT would also administer at its discretion, outside the normal spending formulas, but Congress has yet to approve that fund for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
-- Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.