Connecticut Lawmakers Livid at the State’s Transport Stimulus Shutout

Connecticut was not alone in its failure to win any funding from the Obama administration’s competition for $1.5 billion in TIGER stimulus grants, but its Democratic members of Congress are not nursing their wounds quietly.

connect.pngOutlined in purple are improvements to Stamford’s Harbor Point neighborhood that would have been funded by TIGER grants. (Image: ConnDOT)

A group of Nutmeg State lawmakers led by Rep. Jim Himes (D) have asked for a meeting next week with U.S. DOT chief Ray LaHood to discuss the state’s shutout from TIGER (short for Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery), according to the Hartford Courant:

"I was outraged when I got the news," [Himes] said Thursday afternoon. " Chris Dodd was exceedingly angry. John Larson was not happy. We all called the White House. This is just unacceptable," Himes said.

At least one state lawmaker is saying that Connecticut’s transportation
department dropped the ball, particularly since this is the second time
this month that the state has fared miserably in competition for major
federal transportation aid. State DOT officials insist that they are as
disappointed as anyone and that they’ve done everything possible to win
a share of the money.

Connecticut had filed applications with the U.S. DOT for a total of $630 million in TIGER funding. The Courant reports that the state DOT sought $330 million of those bids, with local and regional proposals comprising the remainder.

Some of the state-endorsed TIGER projects will still move forward even without federal funding, the Courant notes, but several other Connecticut development plans will sit idle now that the state has lost its stimulus bids.

Among those likely-stalled proposals is the Stamford area’s Complete Streets and Transit Access pitch (available for download here), which asked for $21.3 million of federal money to promote new transit-oriented development in a low-income neighborhood while adding bike lanes and sidewalks to local streets and putting new jitney buses into circulation. The local contribution to the proposal would have accounted for 20 percent of the total cost, putting Stamford’s application at a potential disadvantage compared with other TIGER aspirants.

It’s worth noting that this week’s TIGER awards are not the only shot for cities such as Stamford to vie for federal aid. Congress approved $600 million for merit-based transport and development grants in its 2010 appropriations cycle.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

House Lawmakers Hail Transportation Stimulus — But Add Three Caveats

|
At a House transportation committee hearing today that marked the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s economic recovery efforts, lawmakers offered praise for the stimulus law’s impact on local infrastructure investments even as they hit upon three key areas of concern with its implementation. The Port of Los Angeles was shut out of the stimulus’ […]

Who Lost Out in the Bid for a Piece of TIGER Transportation Stimulus?

|
With more than $56 billion in applications submitted for just $1.5 billion in available funding, the Obama administration’s TIGER grants — short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — was one of the stimulus law’s most hotly contested programs. So it’s no surprise that the process resulted in its share of losers as well as […]

Coming Soon to Popular Transport Stimulus Programs: Local Funding

|
Two of the most popular transportation programs in the Obama administration’s stimulus law, the $1.5 billion in competitive grants known as TIGER and the $8 billion high-speed rail initiative, had an added feature that made them even more attractive to cities and states: the federal funding awards would not require a local match. Amtrak’s Empire […]

TIGER Grant Winners to be Announced By February 17

|
The winners of $1.5 billion in merit-based transportation stimulus grants through the program known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) will be announced on or perhaps even before February 17, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood confirmed this week. A rendering of Phoenix’s SkyTrain, which has applied for TIGER aid to link light rail with the […]

The Upside of GOP ‘Hypocrisy’ on Transportation Stimulus Grants

|
To call Rep. Pete Sessions (TX), chairman of the House Republican campaign committee, a critic of the Obama administration’s stimulus law would be putting it mildly. Sessions marked the one-year anniversary of the law’s passage last week by labeling the stimulus a "massive spending binge" that only "allegedly" created jobs in his district. Is his […]

Now Open for Bids: The Fourth Round of TIGER Grants

|
Transportation leaders, take your best shot. Applications are being accepted for $500 million in federal funding through the fourth round of U.S. DOT’s TIGER grants. DOT has renewed its commitment to this groundbreaking program, which awards money on a competitive basis to projects that have the potential to make a “significant impact on the nation, […]