The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $20 million grant to repair and update the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) fourth-busiest rail station, which also serves as a major bus terminal. The project is one of 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia selected to receive funding under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s highly competitive $500 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 program.
“Across the country, the TIGER program is putting Americans back to work improving transit facilities and expanding transportation access in communities nationwide,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “President Obama’s support for an America built to last is putting people back to work across the country building roads, bridges and other projects that will mean better, safer transportation for generations to come.”
The $140 million terminal overhaul will make much-needed repairs and updates to the 43-year-old bus and rail facility that will improve accessibility for commuters, especially elderly riders and people with disabilities. The project supports the long-term efficiency, reliability and sustainability of an essential transit terminal on Chicago’s South Side. A portion of the grant will be used to support an innovative, low-cost TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan for up to one-third of the project's cost. The TIFIA program provides federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees and standby lines of credit to finance surface transportation projects of national and regional significance.
“With transit ridership on the rise in Chicago and around the country, access to affordable public transit that’s safe, clean, reliable and desirable is more important than ever,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, at a grant announcement event at Chicago’s 95th Street Terminal.
Nationwide, there is an estimated $78 billion backlog in critical rail transit repair needs in cities such as Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. CTA alone, which serves 1.6 million riders daily, faces $7 billion in capital needs and repairs over the next four years. All of Chicago’s transit services combined face a 10-year, $24 billion backlog to repair and replace rail cars, rail stations, and rail bridges that are past their useful lives.
The TIGER program is a highly competitive grant program that funds innovative projects that are difficult to fund through other federal programs. In many cases, these grants will serve as the final piece of funding for infrastructure investments totaling $1.7 billion in overall project costs. These federal funds are being leveraged with money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies.
TIGER has enjoyed overwhelming demand since its creation, a trend continued by TIGER 2012. Applications for this most recent round of grants totaled $10.2 billion, far exceeding the $500 million set aside for the program. In all, the Department received 703 applications from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
The grants will fund a wide range of innovative transportation projects in urban and rural areas across the country: