The U.S. Department of Transportation said it plans to allocate almost $500 million to 40 projects under the popular TIGER grant program.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday announced the selection of 40 grant recipients for transportation projects who will share nearly $500 million this year under the highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.
Freight-related infrastructure projects garnered eight awards (20 percent), with six grants going to port authorities.
Ports captured 15 percent of the total awards, but only 12.4 percent ($61.8 million) of the total funding and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) noted that no funds were directed to major maritime gateways with large cargo volumes. Excluding the initial year of the TIGER program in 2009, ports have received between 12.5 and 14.5 percent of funds allocated during each of the previous six funding rounds.
“It’s important that projects from the full range of port sizes and types receive grant awards in upcoming rounds of TIGER funding,” AAPA President Kurt Nagle said in a statement. The trade association has argued before that ports and port-related infrastructure such as road and rail connectors, deserve a quarter of the total available because ports are vital to the nation’s economy and need help to more efficiently move freight.
The TIGER program is aimed at supporting multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional federal highway aid programs that follow strict formulas for disbursing money to state transportation departments.
Demand for fiscal year 2016 TIGER grants continued to far exceed available funds. The DOT said it received 585 eligible applications from all 50 States, and several U.S. territories, tribal communities, cities, and towns throughout the United States, collectively requesting over $9.3 billion in funding. During the previous seven rounds, the Department received more than 7,300 applications requesting more than $143 billion for transportation projects across the country.
Since 2009, the TIGER grant program has provided a combined $5.1 billion to 421 projects. The 2016 TIGER round will support $1.74 billion in overall transportation investments from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies.
Until this year, TIGER was the only game in town for multi-modal freight projects to get federal aid. The DOT in early July announced 18 grant awards totaling $759.2 million for freight projects of national or regional significance, including intermodal facilities, under the new FASTLane program. FASTLane is one of two initiatives in the five-year FAST Act enacted early this year that provides dedicated funding for freight-related infrastructure projects.
The TIGER awards for freight projects were:
• $17.6 million – Port of Albany, N.Y., to reconstruct the wharf with roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) capacity, replace a warehouse, reconstruct a cargo storage area and rebuild a port roadway for project cargo.
• $10.7 million – Virgin Islands Port Authority, to renovate and reconstruct a RoRo dock, make waterside improvements to increase berthing capacity, construct a 19,000-square-foot multi-use facility for cargo storage and administrative activities, and implement security enhancements on the south side of St. Croix.
• $10 million – Port of Everett, Wash., to strengthen more than 500 feet of dock, creating a modern berth capable of handling RoRo and intermodal cargo, and upgrading high voltage power systems. The project will also construct rail sidings to increase on-site rail car storage.
• $10 million – Port of Guam to reconstruct and expand a wharf built in 1948, including a new sheet pile bulkhead retaining wall and upgrades to an access road. The project also includes demolition of surface facilities and construction of additional structural components.
• $7.3 million – Port of Portland, Ore., to construct a grade separation over a busy marine terminal rail lead and construct road, intersection, and multimodal improvements to increase access and connectivity between the port and nearby highways. The project includes a realignment of an intersection to better accommodate turning trucks.
• $6.2 million – Little Rock Port Authority to improve the slack water harbor area, including a new dock with direct dock to-rail capability, and additional rail storage.
• $9.8 million – Multiple county sponsors to rehabilitate a section of freight rail between Mullins, S.C., and Chadbourn, N.C., and a connection between Conway, S.C., and Chadbourne. The project replaces more than eight miles of existing rail, installs more than 50,000 ties, surfaces approximately 75 miles of track, and upgrades more than two dozen at-grade railroad crossings to make freight rail service more dependable in this rural region. The improvements will allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 25 mph – a significant improvement from the current 5-10 mph limits – thereby increasing efficiency of train service and reducing costs to shippers.
• $17.7 million – Scott County, Minn., to support construction of a grade-separated interchange at U.S. 169 and Highway 41, an area with high volumes of trucks hauling grain and aggregate. The project is expected to reduce traffic delays and thereby encourage industrial development.