TIGER Grant to Help Truckers Find Parking Spots

Among the many reforms introduced when the Republicans took control of the U. S. House of Representatives in the 2010 elections was the elimination of “pork barrel” projects from transportation funding.

They had been embarrassed by the stream of special interest bills for local highway projects (can you remember the “Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska) and decreed that they would pass “clean” bills in the future.

Well, they finally did pass a federal transportation bill this year and it doesn’t have any pork…unless, of course, you don’t count TIGER Grants, a program left over from when the Democrats controlled the Congress. TIGER lets the Obama administration pick a few projects for special funding each year and some are doozies.

Earlier this month U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the Department of Transportation will provide $500 million for 39 transportation projects in 34 states, some projects spanning several states, from its TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2015 program. This year rural areas received 43 percent of the project awards, a higher percentage than any previous year.

The Department received 627 eligible applications from 50 states and several U.S. territories, including tribal governments, requesting 20 times the $500 million available for the program.

One of them was directed at the trucking industry, a “$25 million grant to implement a regional truck parking information management system along interstates in Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, providing truck drivers with reliable, real-time information to make smarter, more efficient truck parking decisions.”

This raises the question—is it “pork” if it benefits your industry? We’d like to hear from our readers…when this parking project is operational…if the new system had any real benefit.

Other, more whimsical projects funded through this round of TIGER, was spread around a few western states, including (items in “parentheses” are the PR language from DOT):

  • $10 million grant to develop “complete streets and a linear park trail in Kalispell, Mont., that will catalyze redevelopment in the heart of the community by relocating rail serving the neighboring industrial park and removing rail from the downtown area.”
  • $2.9 million grant to assist in the construction of “critical roads and sidewalks in the native village of Point Hope, Alaska,” population 674, above the Arctic Circle.
  • $15 million grant to more than double the existing streetcar system in Tacoma, Wash., better connecting the downtown to major employment, medical, education, and other institutions.
  • A $15 million grant to construct a grade separated highway overpass at the intersection of State Route 347 and a double track rail line in Maricopa, Ariz., “fostering a safe, connected, accessible transportation system for the multimodal movement of people, goods and services.”
  • A $1 million grant to help complete a bike and pedestrian network in the Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico, population 3,500, “creating safe bicycle and pedestrian access linking economic centers to residential areas, and serving as the catalyst to the revitalization of the traditional village areas.”

This is the seventh TIGER round since 2009, bringing the total grant amount to $4.6 billion provided to 381 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. To date the DOT has received more than 6,700 applications requesting more than $134 billion for TIGER Grant projects. No estimate of the cost of the grant applications has been made.

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