$8B for High-Speed Rail, $1.5B in Transport Stimulus Coming This Winter
It’s shaping up to be anything but a quiet winter for the U.S. DOT, with $9.5 billion in grants for clean transportation set for release to the winners of two highly competitive contests for federal aid.
Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo announced today that his agency would release all $8 billion of the high-speed rail money included in the economic stimulus law by this winter. The total cost of all 259 submitted applications, per Szabo, was about $57 billion for both full-scale corridor development and smaller planning projects.
Szabo’s update comes less than a week after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Congress that he would name the winners of the stimulus law’s $1.5 billion TIGER grant program before the end of the year.
Within the Obama administration, ten teams are evaluating the applications submitted for TIGER, which the U.S. DOT says also total $57 billion. "We think we have a very good evaluation process going on and we have a lot of people in the department working on this," LaHood told the House infrastructure committee on Thursday.
TIGER’s built-in competition between modes of transportation, from rail to ports to roads, marks something of a new frontier for the DOT, which generally cordons off each mechanism for moving people and goods into separate silos.
The Senate climate change bill that was released last week includes a proposal for similar inter-modal grants to help states and cities promote clean transportation-based emissions reductions, so the success of the TIGER program could help move the federal government away from its silo-heavy system and towards a more open approach.