US: Obama Admin Unveils 46 TIGER Grants Totaling $511M

Obama administration announced today that 46 projects would share $511 million in grants for transportation and development projects aimed at promoting "livability."

The TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants will go to projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. The grants are designed to promote projects that encourage a range of modes of transportation, including transit, biking and pedestrian infrastructure.

The administration said it was swamped with applications for the grants, the third round in the program's run. DOT received more than 848 requests totaling $14.3 billion -- 25 times more than the available funding.

The grants were also delivered on a faster timeline, with DOT staffers working around the clock to respond to a directive from President Obama to accelerate infrastructure spending before the end of the year.

"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," LaHood said in a statement.

DOT said 48 percent of the funding will go to road and bridge projects, including $64 million for Complete Streets projects that incorporate bicycle, pedestrian and motorcycle infrastructure. Among those is a $15 million grant to the city of Buffalo, N.Y., to expand vehicle traffic on the city's main street.

Among other recipients was Chicago, which netted $20 million for repairs and expansions to the city's transit line, along with an expansion of a bike sharing program. Virginia also got $20 million to supplement a TIFIA loan for development of high-occupancy toll lanes that will connect to the Capital Beltway.

Despite the program's popularity with local officials, Congress has shaved funding for future grant allowances.

Under the transportation budget passed by both the House and Senate, TIGER would see its funding drop to just $500 million in fiscal 2012. Funding has dipped in each year of the program, which started with a $1.5 billion allowance for TIGER I.

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