TIGER Grants May Take Transit Off Endangered List

Less money for highways, more for transit and "complete streets" - New Urban News takes a look at where the $1.5 billion TIGER grants are going.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) took its first steps in early 2010 toward what may be a new approach to funding projects - one that focuses more on multimodal solutions and economic development than on highways and automobile congestion mitigation.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been talking about 'livability' - designing places and transportation systems for transit and walking as well as for car travel. In January he announced that economic development, environmental benefits, and other livability criteria would factor into DOT funding along with the traditional yardsticks of cost and congestion.

DOT showed its seriousness about these goals in late February by awarding $1.5 billion in Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, part of the 2009 stimulus bill. A portion of the Tiger funds went to highways - but to a lesser degree than had been typical in the past. Streetcars, pedestrian/bicycle paths, multimodal transit centers, and transformation of automobile-oriented arterials into "complete streets" also received TIGER money.

Thanks to Renee Brutvan

Full Story: TIGER grants highlight new transportation paradigm



Michael Lewyn's picture


Overall, the Obama Administration has requested $42 billion for highways, and $10 billion for transit. (See http://www.dot.gov/budget/2010/2011budgethighlights.pdf for details).

Thus, $1.5 billion is not a particularly significant amount of money compared to overall federal spending for highways (or for that matter, federal spending for transit!) .

And in view of the state and local fiscal crisis, any additional spending should focus on protecting the transit we have- since there's not going to be much transit-oriented development if local governments have eliminated the transit. (For one rather visionary proposal of how to do this, see http://www.planetizen.com/node/37592 - but as the comments to that blog entry suggest, plain old funding increases might help as well).

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