Thursday, December 15, 2011

Intermodal Freight, Ports and Rail to Benefit from Latest Tiger Grants

(But there's Never Enough Money around When You Need It)
Shipping News Feature

US - Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $511 million from the third round of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s popular TIGER program. The announcement comes months ahead of schedule, and infrastructure projects including road and bridge improvements; transit upgrades; freight, port, intermodal terminal and rail cargo expansions as well as affecting private motorist’s cyclist and pedestrians.

The latest tranche of grants should be viewable in their entirety HERE showing the fortunate applicants and their succesful schemes. The forty six projects however have once again been cherry picked from a vast oversubscription. Half a billion dollars is not small change but TIGER lll saw 848 project applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, requesting a total of $14.29 billion from the DOT. This however pales in comparison to the past two years when TIGER’s l and ll had requests for $76 billion when only $2.1 billion was on the table.

TIGER grants are awarded to transportation projects that have a significant national or regional impact. Projects are chosen for their ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections.

The DOT prioritises projects it believes will create immediate and sustainable jobs which stimulate the economy. The logistics sector has done well from this phase of TIGER with 10% funding rail freight projects like the Muldraugh Bridge Replacement in Kentucky, 12% to be invested in ports and 29% of the funding will support transit projects like the Westside Multimodal Transit Center in San Antonio. Secretary LaHood was quick to stress the reasoning behind TIGER when he made the announcement saying:

“The overwhelming demand for these grants clearly shows that communities across the country can’t afford to wait any longer for Congress to put Americans to work building the transportation projects that are critical to our economic future. That’s why we’ve taken action to get these grants out the door quickly, and that is why we will continue to ask Congress to make the targeted investments we need to create jobs, repair our nation’s transportation systems, better serve the travelling public and our nation’s businesses, factories and farms, and make sure our economy continues to grow."

In November, President Obama directed DOT to take common sense steps to expedite transportation projects by accelerating the process for review and approval and by leveraging private sector funding to promote growth and job creation. As part of that initiative, DOT accelerated the TIGER III application review process and has announced the awards before the end of 2011, months ahead of the planned spring 2012 announcement.