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.
The grants will fund a wide range of innovative transportation projects in urban and rural areas across the country:
• Of the $500 million in TIGER 2012 funds available for grants, more than $120 million will go to critical projects in rural areas.
• Roughly 35 percent of the funding will go to road and bridge projects, including more than $30 million for the replacement of rural roads and bridges that need improvements to address safety and state of good repair deficiencies.
• 16 percent of the funding will support transit projects like the Wave Streetcar Project in Fort Lauderdale.
• 13 percent of the funding will support high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects like the Raleigh Union Station Project in North Carolina.
• 12 percent will go to freight rail projects, including elements of the CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program to reduce freight rail congestion in Chicago.
• 12 percent will go to multimodal, bicycle and pedestrian projects like the Main Street to Main Street Multimodal Corridor project connecting Memphis and West Memphis.
• 12 percent will help build port projects like the Outer Harbor Intermodal Terminal at the Port of Oakland.
• Three grants were also directed to tribal governments to create jobs and address critical transportation needs in Indian country.
Over the next six months, 27 projects are expected to break ground from the previous three rounds of TIGER. In addition, work is under way on 64 capital projects across the country.
On November 18, 2011, the President signed the FY 2012 Appropriations Act, which provided $500 million for Department of Transportation national infrastructure investments. Like the first three rounds, TIGER 2012 grants are for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are awarded on a competitive basis. This is the fourth round of TIGER funding.
Under all four rounds combined, the TIGER program has provided $3.1 billion to 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Demand for the program has been overwhelming, and during all four rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 4,050 applications requesting more than $105.2 billion for transportation projects across the country.
The fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate provides $500 million for a future round of TIGER grants.
Click HERE for additional information on individual TIGER grants.