USDOT is weighing 1400 TIGER grant applications (11 of which requested TIFIA funding) totaling $57 billion in funding requests. The TIGER (Grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program provides for $1.5 billion in discretionary grants to high impact transportation projects, and could fund up to $200 million in TIFIA assistance.
The program gives priority to shovel ready projects that can be completed on or before February 17, 2012. Selection criteria favor high-impact projects that lower life cycle costs, and enhance safety, sustainability, livability, and economic competitiveness. Grants can range in size from $20 – 300 million.
USDOT is required to ensure an equitable geographic distribution of funds, and may adjust its list of recommended projects after applying the program selection criteria described above. No state can receive more than $300 million in funds, and multi-state applications must allocate project costs to assist USDOT in determining funding levels for each participant.
TIFIA could significantly boost the program’s impact. TIFIA offers credit assistance (loan guarantees and direct loans) to states and their partners, and can leverage funding and help attract private investment as a way to fill a gap in the financial system between the risk-averse municipal bond markets and the high-interest loans available to the private sector.
The Federal Highway Administration has estimated that allocating the full $200 million in TIGER TIFIA grants could support $2 billion in credit assistance, more than tripling the funding outcome for the TIGER program. While USDOT has not released an official estimate of TIGER TIFIA funding requests, fully utilizing the TIFIA allocation would amplify the TIGER program’s impact by drawing on infrastructure investment in high-traffic congested urban corridors, consistent with the program’s focus on high impact projects.
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