Dahlonega, GA will use its TIGER grant to make streets safer and more accessible. Photo via the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of the 2014 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program.
This year, a total of $600 million will be invested in 72 street, rail, transit, and port projects in 46 states and Washington, DC. As in the past, the program saw far more applicants than available funds: 797 eligible applications requesting 15 times the amount allocated to the program this year. In 2013, USDOT reviewed 585 applications and awarded just 52.
Designed to support innovative transportation projects, TIGER awards projects that improve not just streets and bridges, but also people’s lives and neighborhoods. TIGER applicants must demonstrate their ability to match funds, leverage multi-agency partnerships, improve transportation safety, and support the economy and natural environment. The TIGER program also brings all kinds of other money to the table—local, state and even private. Each dollar awarded through TIGER will leverage almost three dollars in matching funds from other sources. And the program encourages agencies and organizations to work collaboratively rather than working in separate “silos”, as is common with conventional projects.
With TIGER’s emphasis on getting the highest bang-for-the-buck and building solid partnerships, it’s no surprise that many of the winning street projects and plans are those that consider the needs of people—of all ages and abilities—who are walking, bicycling, and taking transit in addition to driving cars and trucks. Providing safe transportation options, a hallmark of Complete Streets, is fundamental in encouraging healthy activities like walking and bicycling to work or school and making sure employees have reliable access to job centers.
Looking through the list of funded projects and plans, it’s clear that each is deserving. Here are just a few of our favorites:
In Los Angeles, CA, the Eastside Access Improvements Project will upgrade the streetscape, including street furniture, lighting, planting, and storm parkways. The project will add crosswalks, sidewalks, a walk-bike esplanade, and regular and protected bike lanes within a one-mile radius of the 1st/Central Station of the Regional Connector rail line, making sure people can get to the train when it’s set to open for service in 2020 in the Little Tokyo neighborhood.
Waterbury, CT will use its grant to help revitalize the town’s river/rail corridor neighborhoods and downtown center, boosting an ongoing economic resurgence in the city and region. They will reconstruct Freight and Jackson Streets, build a new walking/bicycling bridge over Meadow Street, and make improvements around the Meadow Street Station.
In Detroit, MI, the M-1 Fixed-Rail Streetcar Project will build on prior TIGER assistance to construct 3.31 miles of streetcar with 12 stops through downtown Detroit.
Goleta, CA will conduct engineering and traffic studies on a corridor in the Old Town neighborhood, bringing with it improved accessibility for those with disabilities. Improved sidewalks and bicycle facilities will better connect visitors and residents with nearby transit and rail and help bring customers to Old Town businesses.
Coordinated with downtown revitalization efforts in Dahlonega, GA, the grant fills gaps in the sidewalk network, adds better crossings for those on foot, and introduces bicycle facilities the area.
In Tulsa, OK, the Riverside Drive Multi-Modal Access Project will rebuild and rehabilitate Riverside Drive with a Complete Streets mindset: improving walking and bicycling connections to the Gathering Place, a 75-acre recreational park and natural area.
The Champaign-Urbana, IL Mass Transit District will redesign five corridors around the University of Illinois to improve transit time between the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the campus, with an emphasis on making transit accessible to persons with disabilities, older adults, and economically disadvantaged populations.
And New York, NY’s Vision Zero: Saving Lives and Providing Opportunity Project, with one of the largest grants awarded, will execute a three-part safety improvement program across the five boroughs: safe pedestrian access to schools, safe pedestrian access to transit, and safe bicycle access to jobs. The project, which has an over 50% non-federal funding match, will focus on historically underserved communities through a comprehensive planning and public engagement process involving many city agencies.
The high demand for TIGER funding underscores the demand in urban and rural regions alike to plan and build projects that provide transportation options, build community partnerships, and address multiple goals in one shot.