(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the bipartisan “Transportation Infrastructure Grants and Economic Reinvestment Act” (TIGER), a bill that would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to provide grants, direct loans, and loan guarantees to States, local governments, and transit agencies for critical transportation projects.
have been thrilled by the successful transportation projects that have been
funded in the two years since I established the TIGER grant program. These
projects are putting people to work, boosting regional economies, and improving
our country’s infrastructure,”
said Senator Murray. “I am proud to introduce this legislation today
to authorize more of these critical infrastructure investments that will help
communities and businesses succeed in the 21st century economy.”
“One of my highest priorities is to help ensure that our nation’s transportation infrastructure does not fall into disrepair. Safe and efficient transportation is essential to economic recovery and cannot be left solely to state governments, which are struggling with budget shortfalls,” said Senator Collins. “The demand for this important funding is great, and I look forward to working with Senators Murray and Durbin to build on the success of the TIGER grant program by continuing these critical economic investments.”
“Two years ago, we worked to develop the TIGER grant program as a coordinated, comprehensive effort to identify and fund nationally significant transportation projects that will improve safety, spur economic development, reduce congestion and create thousands of good paying jobs across the country,” said Senator Durbin. “It gives local communities and mayors the chance to showcase their best transportation projects and, for the first time, allows them to apply directly to the federal government for funding. The response has been overwhelming. I thank both Senators Murray and Collins for their leadership on this issue and will continue to work with them to see this successful program written into law.”
The TIGER Act, which authorizes funding for the TIGER grant program that Senator Murray created in 2009, invests in a variety of transportation modes, selects projects through a transparent, competitive and merit-based process, and requires the Secretary of Transportation to provide a full description of how applications will be evaluated. The grant program also ensures that projects across the country are funded, and includes several provisions to balance the needs of urban and rural areas.
An example of a project funded under the TIGER grant program is $34 million to replace Seattle’s 81-year old South Park Bridge, which has been closed for safety reasons. Before its closure, this structure connected a large manufacturing and industrial area to downtown Seattle, the Port of Seattle and Sea-Tac airport, carrying nearly 10 million tons of cargo annually. The closure of the structure has forced freight traffic onto already congested routes serving the South Seattle area. Additionally, the South Park neighborhood is home to 3,700 residents and 115 businesses whose lives and livelihoods are seriously disrupted without a safe, functioning bridge.
In Maine, TIGER grant funding will be used to repair 233 miles of railroad track in Northern Maine. The line, whose previous owner sought to abandon, serves 22 businesses. Lack of rail service would have driven up costs dramatically for these businesses and made them less competitive. In addition, a $20 million TIGER grant will be used to help replace the aging Memorial Bridge, a critical link between Maine and New Hampshire. During the summer, an estimated 12,000 cars cross the bridge each day—including workers going to and coming from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, one of Southern Maine’s largest employers. Without repairs, the bridge would have closed permanently within five years.
Several projects have been funded under the TIGER grant program in Illinois including a multimodal transportation center in Normal, Illinois. A $22 million grant was awarded for the completion of a downtown redevelopment project within the Town of Normal. The Multimodal Transportation Center will serve as a hub for numerous modes of transportation including Amtrak passenger rail, intercity bus, local mass transit, automobiles, intra-community shuttles, taxis, airport shuttles, as well as bicycles and pedestrians. The existing Normal Amtrak station is the second busiest passenger rail station in Illinois behind Chicago’s Union Station.