The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that the fifth round of TIGER grants is oversubscribed once again, with 568 applications from around the country seeking more than $9 billion for infrastructure projects for a program that only has $474 million in available funding.
The deadline for public and private entities to submit applications was June 3. States, local governments, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies and other groups, including those with private sector partners, are eligible for grants.
TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) began as part of the 2009 Recovery Act to help stimulate the economy. The program is highly competitive, with demanding requirements that applicants quantify how a project will increase safety, reduce congestion and emissions, create jobs and spur economic development, or fix failing infrastructure. Projects that provide benefits to the nation, a region, or metropolitan area are weighted more heavily during the selection process, as are ones sponsored by multiple partners that contribute their own money. The discretionary character of the program enables projects that cross jurisdictions to win awards. Freight-related projects, including for ports, have captured almost one-third of the $3.13 billion awarded so far.
TIGER has continued to receive support from Congress, but it was codified in the MAP-21 surface transportation legislation last summer. It lives through a series of appropriations and continuing resolutions, reflecting the mixed feelings on Capitol Hill about the executive branch having discretion to pick which projects to support rather than lawmakers doing the selecting through earmarks.
Both houses of Congress have eschewed earmarks for the time being.
The previous four rounds of the TIGER program provided $3.1 billion to 218 projects. DOT received more than 4,50 applications requesting more than $105.2 billion for transportation projects. - Eric Kulisch