TIGER Grant Program to Provide Funding for Transportation Projects Across the Country

April 23, 2015

An estimated $500 million in transportation funding will soon be available through the seventh round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

The TIGER 2015 grant program will focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation in both urban and rural areas. Grants also are awarded to projects that emphasize improved connection to employment, education, services, workforce development and community revitalization, according to the USDOT.

The pre-application deadline for TIGER grants is May 4 and the final application deadline is June 5. Hermanus Steyn, PE, a principal engineer in Kittelson & Associates, Inc.’s (KAI) Portland office, is among KAI staff with grant writing experience and has participated in the TIGER program and Oregon’s Transportation and Growth Management grant program. Hermanus notes that, in addition to writing grant proposals, KAI informs its partner agencies of upcoming funding opportunities and application deadlines.

The TIGER grant program gives the USDOT an opportunity to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that provide significant and measurable improvements over existing conditions. Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion for six rounds to fund projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or a metropolitan area.

Applicants must detail the benefits their project would deliver for five long-term outcomes: safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, livability and environmental sustainability. The USDOT also evaluates projects on their expected contributions to economic recovery, as well as their ability to facilitate innovation and new partnerships.

The competitive structure of the TIGER program and its broad eligibility allow project sponsors at the state and local levels to avoid narrow, formula-based categories, and fund multimodal, multijurisdictional projects not eligible for funding through traditional USDOT programs.

For example, TIGER can fund port and freight rail projects, which play a critical role in the nation’s ability to move freight but are not eligible for any other sources of federal funds. Similarly, TIGER can provide capital funding directly to any public entity - including municipalities, counties, port authorities, tribal governments and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) - in contrast to traditional federal programs which provide funding to very specific groups of applicants (mostly state DOTs and transit agencies).

This flexibility allows the USDOT’s traditional partners at the state and local levels to work directly with a host of entities that own, operate and maintain much of the nation’s transportation infrastructure, but who/that otherwise cannot turn to the federal government for support.

By running a competitive process, the USDOT is able to reward applicants that exceed eligibility criteria and demonstrate a level of commitment that surpasses their peers. While TIGER can fund projects that have a local match as low as 20 percent of the total project costs, TIGER projects have historically achieved, on average, co-investment of two non-federal dollars (including state, local, private and philanthropic funds) for every TIGER dollar invested. The high level of co-investment achieved through TIGER, and the ability to foster creative and innovative approaches to transportation investments, is demonstrated across all types of TIGER projects, the USDOT states on its website. For more information about the TIGER grant program, please visit http://www.dot.gov/tiger.

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