The Department of Transportation just announced the recipients of its $1.5 billion discretionary grant program funded by last year’s stimulus bill. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program is the US DOT’s first attempt at a competitive grant program where projects of all modes compete based on their ability to meet national goals. Applicant projects had to show multiple benefits, including long-term goals of stimulating economic competitiveness, improving public safety, enhancing livability, developing sustainable transportation options, and helping achieve a state of good repair.
It comes as no surprise that many of the projects include complete streets elements. One of the recipients was complete streets project to spur revitalization and economic development in the historic Millwork District of downtown Dubuque, IA. As many as 60 percent of the new residents within the district are estimated to be traveling to work downtown, and the project will allow them to more conveniently and safely walk, bike, or take transit to work.
US Sentor Tom Harkin of Iowa issued a press release on this project today, stating “This funding goes to the very heart of Dubuque’s mission to transform the city into one of the best places to live and do business.” He continued, “In the end, residents will see reduced traffic congestion and improvement in the ability to walk to work or take public transit. The area is expected to provide much needed housing for working families with jobs downtown.” Sen. Harkin is the sponsor of the Complete Streets Act of 2009, S. 584.
Some of the other complete streets projects include bicycle and pedestrian networks in Philadelphia, PA and Indianapolis, IN; multi-modal transportation hubs in St. Paul, MN and Normal, IL; and “complete” bridges in Tulsa, OK and between Milton, KY and Madison, IN. Roads in rural Lake County, MT will be improved to complement local efforts in providing safe routes for people traveling by foot or bike to work, school, and other destinations. Portland, OR will reconstruct SW Moody Avenue as a complete street with three traffic lanes, dual streetcar tracks, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Bus Rapid Transit and a commuter bikeway will be established between Denver and Boulder, CO. A number of other recipient communities will investments in public transportation – light rail, streetcars, and buses – will encourage sustainable, walkable, bikable development along those routes. Check out the full list of funded projects (.pdf) for details.
There was overwhelming demand from cities, regions and states across the country for TIGER funding, with more than 1,400 applications from all 50 states totaling almost $60 billion. As Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote on his blog, “From freight rail to streetcars, from roadways to waterways to bikeways, we are affirming the truly multi-modal nature of American transportation.”
The success of the TIGER program exemplifies the thirst for a different approach to transportation and is a model for the performance based transportation funding system we hope to see in the next transportation bill.