- Projects range from roadways to light rail systems to bike-share programs
- Applications came from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
- A total of 848 applications sought $14.3 billion
- The $511 million available will go for 46 projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico
All 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., submitted applications to the Department of Transportation for grants to fund DOT projects, but -- in a sign of tough economic times coupled with a shortage of federal dollars -- not everyone is finding presents under the federal Christmas tree this year.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive $511 million in the latest round of Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.
The Transportation Department had received a total of 848 applications requesting $14.3 billion, exceeding the $511 million available under the TIGER program.
The grants will fund a range of transportation work in urban and rural areas from light rail systems and ports to bridges, roadways, runways, pipelines, streetcars and bike-share projects.
Among the biggest grants: $20 million for Chicago to complete 3.6 miles of track on the city's transit authority's Blue Line, serving millions of passengers, as well as expanding a bike-share program. The Missouri Department of Transportation also received $20 million for roadway improvements along the I-270 corridor in St. Louis.
Three grants were directed to tribal governments to create jobs and provide transportation needs. A grant of $3.7 million was given to the Seminole Tribe of Florida to improve several miles of road on the Big Cypress Reservation. The existing road has two 10-foot lanes with worn, unpaved shoulders and substandard sidewalks, according to DOT. Officials say the improvements will enhance emergency hurricane evacuation routes and enhance access to commercial and tourist destinations.
The smallest grant went to the Native Village of St. Michael, Alaska, which received a $1 million grant to resurface and re-contour roads to provide better access to schools and improve drainage issues that arise from seasonal flooding.
LaHood, who was in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday to highlight a streetcar project, told reporters the allocation of funds is coming months ahead of schedule to allow communities to move forward with critical, job-creating infrastructure projects. "Our economic challenges have been decades in the making and won't be solved overnight," said LaHood.
The city of Cincinnati was awarded a nearly $11 million grant to design and construct the Streetcar Riverfront Loop that the transportation department says "has the potential to revitalize" the city's urban core by providing a public transit alternative.
Work has already begun on 33 planning projects while 58 capital projects are under way from the previous two rounds of grants. LaHood said an additional 13 projects are expected to break ground within the next six months.
Of the $511 million in available funds, more than $150 million will go to projects in rural areas. Almost half of the funding will go to road and bridge projects.
An additional $16 million will be used to pay for administrative costs to make sure the program is properly administered "by the book," said LaHood.
DOT says grants are awarded to transportation projects that have a significant national or regional impact. the department gives priority to work expected to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.