The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $21 million TIGER grant for the Raleigh Union Station project, 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.
“This grant for Raleigh’s Union Station means good jobs for North Carolina today and greater mobility that will generate economic benefits well into the future,” 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 and a strong economic foundation for years to come.”
Dubbed “The Gateway to the South,” the station will be a major stop on the Southeast high-speed rail corridor that will span from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Ga. It will also provide expanded service to intercity and commuter rail passengers, improve freight operations and add local and intercity bus service. The project will enhance safety by improving track signals and providing better access to station platforms.
The city of Raleigh estimates the project would stimulate the development of more than 2.5 million square feet of office space and 6,000 residential units downtown. Across the nation, cities like Denver and Sacramento have leveraged similar federal investments in their stations and rail service to attract hundreds of millions in new development, as new businesses and residents choose to locate near the expanded mobility options available at the station.
“No economy can grow faster than its transportation network,” said Administrator Szabo. “In fast growing regions like the Southeast, where expanding highways and airports alone will not be enough to accommodate that growth, rail must play an important role.”
The grant comes on the heels of other efforts to improve passenger rail service in the Southeast. More than half a billion has been invested through the FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program in North Carolina and construction is underway to reduce trip times and add more frequent service between Raleigh and Charlotte.
Through additional federal grants the states of North Carolina and Virginia are completing the prerequisite environmental and planning work to drastically reduce train travel times between the Raleigh and Washington, D.C. to allow travelers to make a roundtrip between the two cities within a single day for meetings and other events, strengthening the economic ties between the two regions, and creating new opportunities for job growth.
The TIGER program is a highly competitive grant program that funds innovative projects that are difficult or impossible 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.