One year after the stimulus bill was signed into law, the Department of Transportation unveiled the winners of its big TIGER grants, which are transportation projects awarded on merit to cities and transit agencies from around the country.
For proponents of new streetcar projects in cities like Cincinnati, Charlotte, and Atlanta, today’s announcement is a major let-down. Each had hoped to win but a small portion of the U.S. Department if Transportation’s $1.5 billion in discretionary funds for meritorious transportation projects.
Alas, applicants from all fifty states demanded a total of more than $56 billion in federal grants, and there simply is not enough money to spread around.
But the Department of Transportation is moving in a positive direction: only 23% of investment went to highway projects, compared to 26% for transit and much more for intermodal and freight rail. It also has invested big bucks in pedestrian improvement programs. Indeed, TIGER says a lot about how this DOT works when it’s not under the direct control of Congress: it is prioritizing spending that is not car-centric.