(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she successfully secured several of her priorities in a Senate spending bill. The Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill advanced out of the committee today and now moves to the full Senate.


The bill includes $525 million for the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive grant program, which is a $25 million increase over Fiscal Year 2016 funding. TIGER is a unique, cost-effective program that helps state and local agencies tackle complex transportation and economic development challenges in their communities. It supports critical investments in roads and bridges, public transit, freight and passenger rail, and ports.


Last month, Sen. Murray lead a letter signed by her colleagues, urging committee leaders to invest in this important program. Since Sen. Murray created the TIGER program in 2009, it has awarded nearly $4.6 billion to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, including 134 projects to support rural and tribal communities. Of that total, Washington state has received $229 million to support 15 projects. These include the Tacoma LINK Expansion, a new ferry terminal in Mukilteo, the North Spokane Corridor, the Mercer Corridor Redevelopment project in Seattle, the South Park Bridge Replacement in King County, the West Vancouver Freight Access project at the Port of Vancouver, improvements to I-5 to relieve congestion around Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and modernization of Terminal 46 at the Port of Seattle.


“I’m thrilled to see the TIGER program making a real difference in communities in Washington state and around the country,” Senator Murray said. “By investing in local transportation projects, we make our communities safer, create local jobs, spur economic growth, and make sure transportation systems are ready to meet the demands of the 21st century.”


Each year, the demand for TIGER grants far exceeds the amount of funding available. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation received applications from around the nation for nearly $10 billion dollars in projects, 20 times the amount available. The deadline to apply for this year’s round of TIGER grants is April 29, 2016.


In addition, the bill passed today continues to build on Sen. Murray’s work to support the safe transport of crude oil by rail, including:


  • $15.9 million for an automated track inspection program, railroad safety information systems, and research and development
  • $2 million for tank car research and testing conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Energy
  • $2 million for the Short Line Safety Institute for safety training for short line railroads transporting crude oil and ethanol, a program Sen. Murray helped create in 2014 and which supports short line railroads in Washington (Map of short line railroads in Washington state)
  • Funding to support crude oil safety inspectors, crude oil route safety managers, and tank car quality assurance specialists
  • Requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete a rulemaking to expand comprehensive oil spill response plan requirements to rail carriers by December 18, 2016, to better protect the safety of our communities and environment

Sen. Murray has been a leading voice in the Senate working to make the transportation of crude oil safer. Sen. Murray has also partnered with Sen. Maria Cantwell on the Crude-by-Rail Safety Act to immediately stop the use of outdated tank cars, increase rail inspections, and require the mitigation of volatile gases in crude oil.