The 2017 round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program was announced recently. $500 million in funding will be available to help communities improve transportation and rebuild their infrastructure. This year, special consideration will be given to projects in rural areas, especially those that address public health and safety, contribute to regional connectivity, or promote economic development.
TIGER was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which intended to stimulate the economy and address pressing needs like infrastructure, energy independence and education. Since TIGER's inception, $5.1 billion has been awarded for surface transportation infrastructure. According to the Eno Center for Transportation, TIGER is unique among major federal transportation grants in several ways:
- It was the first to allow surface transportation projects of all modes to apply
- It is one of the few to use benefit-cost analysis as part of the evaluation process
- It is one of the few open to any project sponsor and does not have to be directly accessed by a state DOT or transit agency
Eligible Projects for TIGER Funding
TIGER focuses on improved safety, connecting communities to jobs and services, and economic revitalization. Eligible projects include:
- Highway and bridge projects eligible under title 23, U.S.C.
- Public transportation projects eligible under chapter 53 of title 49, U.S.C.
- Passenger and freight rail transportation projects
- Port infrastructure improvements, including inland port infrastructure and land ports of entry
- Intermodal projects
- Research, demonstration and pilot projects if they result in long-term permanent surface transportation infrastructure that has independent utility
High-Profile TIGER Recipients
TIGER has left its paw prints on some familiar transportation projects around the country. Here are a few of the most recognizable:
- Hopi Nation - developed primary and secondary roadways through the Tawa'ovi Community Streets and Infrastructure Project, a sustainable community development program that focuses on increased travel efficiency that ultimately involved four tribes in four states
- Birmingham - rebuilt a multimodal street network damaged by a 2011 tornado to reconnect residents with vital services and restore access to historic civil rights destinations
- Atlanta - built 2.5 miles of the famous Atlanta Beltline, a system of multiuse trails and transit that connect 45 local communities together
- Houston - improved the bike grid that connects bike and pedestrian trails to bus and rail stops
- Fort Lauderdale - established a new streetcar line in its downtown district
- Vermont - extended Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express passenger train service to Burlington
- Chicago - repaired 3.6 miles of track on Blue Line, the elevated train that runs between downtown and O'Hare airport
- St. Louis - reconnected the Arch Grounds and the Mississippi River with the Downtown Core
Eligible applicants include Native American tribes, state and local governments, territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations, other political subdivisions of state and local governments. It emphasizes shared responsibility and accountability and supports projects hat have substantial nonfederal contributions. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 16, 2017. There is a series of recorded and upcoming webinars offered by the Department of Transportation. It should be noted that TIGER has been suggested for elimination under the current budget proposal.
eCivis and The Ferguson Group (TFG) conduced a webinar on how to win major federal grants, TIGER included. Heidi Schott of TFG gave the following tips for this highly competitive award:
- Maximize non-federal dollars to support the project. Having a match that exceeds requirements increases your chances.
- Always provide data to back up your statements.
- Ensure your project is close to shovel-ready.
If you would like to watch a recording of the webinar, or would like a quick review, the TIGER portion starts at 21:28: