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Connecticut Lawmakers Livid at the State’s Transport Stimulus Shutout

1:45 PM EST on February 19, 2010

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 transportationdepartment dropped the ball, particularly since this is the second timethis month that the state has fared miserably in competition for majorfederal transportation aid. State DOT officials insist that they are asdisappointed as anyone and that they've done everything possible to wina 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.

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