Some Republican lawmakers really can’t stand TIGER, the Obama Administration’s competitive grant program for innovative transportation projects, which has funded several local initiatives to improve transit, biking, and walking over the past few years. Right now, Republicans are fighting to keep TIGER funding out of an appropriations bill — even though demand for the program has been overwhelming. In the last round of funding, nearly 700 applications were received requesting $10.2 billion, with only $500 million available for about 50 projects.
But here’s the funny thing. If you didn’t know how much the GOP leadership has fought against funding for bike- and pedestrian-oriented projects, you might think they actually like them, based on their choice for the Republican National Convention this year. Republicans have chosen the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Florida as the site for their quadrennial convocation. Interestingly, the sports arena is adjacent to an important local amenity: the 2.6-mile Tampa Riverwalk, recipient of a $11 million TIGER grant just last month.
The funding will help fill in gaps in the greenway, which serves a downtown district that’s on a nice upward trajectory. A 20-story office building will soon be rising next to the RNC convention site — the first to be built in downtown Tampa in 20 years.
Maybe all the convention locations directly next to giant highway and bridge projects were booked?