Will Congress Keep TIGER Going?

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced this week that U.S. DOT is seeking applications for $500 million in TIGER grants — the eighth round of funding since the program was launched in 2009.

TIGER funding will help fill gaps in Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Trail. Photo: Schuylkill Banks
TIGER funding will help fill gaps in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River Trail. Photo: Schuylkill Banks

TIGER is small compared to other federal programs, but it has quickly become an important source of funding for projects like the Indianapolis Cultural Trail or Tampa’s Riverwalk that would have a hard time getting support from highway-centric pots of money. Every cycle, U.S. DOT is overwhelmed with applications.

However, the future of TIGER is far from certain, writes Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America. T4A is urging TIGER supporters to contact senators about continuing the program:

The TIGER competitive grant program is one of the few ways that local communities of almost any size can directly receive federal dollars for their priority transportation projects. Unlike the overwhelming majority of all federal transportation dollars that are awarded via formulas to ensure that everyone gets a share, regardless of how they plan to spend it, TIGER projects compete against each other and are selected on their merits to ensure that each dollar is spent in the most effective way possible.

This competition spurs innovation, leverages federal funding by matching it with greater local dollars and awards funding to projects that provide a high return on investment. Choosing projects based on their potential benefits is exactly the direction that transportation spending needs to move in, and we need to ensure that this vital program continues.

Because TIGER was not even authorized in the five-year FAST Act and therefore wholly lacks any certainty of funding, congressional appropriators play an incredibly important role in deciding once again how much funding to provide for TIGER (and other key transportation programs) in the coming year. We want to ensure that the Senate’s key committee begins the process by providing at least the full $500 million they’ve provided in the past.

Members of Congress need to hear from you today. Do you represent a city, county, metro planning organization, or other group? We’re looking for these sorts of groups to sign a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of these programs. (We are not targeting individual letters at this time.)

Elsewhere on the Network today: Greater Greater Washington recounts the long political saga that preceded the upcoming launch of the D.C. Streetcar. Bike Pittsburgh says a local community’s crackdown on pedestrians illustrates all-too-common problems with the way we conceptualize the “right to the road.” And Systemic Failure writes that despite evidence that helmet laws don’t work and discourage cycling, South Australia is doubling down.