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TIGER grants announced: Good news for Complete Streets and Trails
During the National Bike Summit Capitol Hill Lobby Day, several attendees were greeted by Congress members with good news about complete streets and trail projects coming to their district, courtesy of TIGER. The TIGER grants were announced by members of Congress on Wednesday, March 7, and by the US Department of Transportation later that week.
The news included two bicycling and walking trail projects. One is in Philadelphia to fill a gap in the Schuylkill River Trail. The other is on tribal lands in Alaska on an unpaved trail that has been damaged by erosion and ATV use. The project will use synthetic Geocell mats with an open configuration to improve safety for travelers as well as to protect native vegetation.
2018 TIGER Grants (funding levels)
The big story though is the number of complete streets projects! Of the 40 projects total, there were seven complete streets projects which included bicycling and walking which make up 16 percent of the funding. It is important to note though that bicycling and walking facilities will not be the bulk of that funding. Still these projects help create and improve networks through many types of communities. Those projects include:
- Carson City Gateway: South Carson Street Complete Streets: A road diet that includes dedicated bicycling facilities, sidewalks and intelligent technology systems in Carson City, Nevada.
- Downtown Akron Promenade (Phase Two): This project builds on a planning grant from an earlier TIGER to design and reconstruct main street with traffic calming, bicycle and pedestrian facilities,and improved transit and storm water facilities.
- City of Burlington Downtown/Riverfront Revitalization Project, Burlington, Iowa: This project includes complete streets improvements, a linear multi-use path park and waterfront improvements.
- Georgetown East Gateway, Delaware: Improves an intersection by including roadway realignment, signal improvements, bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, transit stops and lighting.
- Immokalee Complete Streets - Collier County, Florida: This complete streets project includes approximately 20 miles of new sidewalks, a bike boulevard network, transit improvements, landscaping, drainage improvements, etc.
- Frankfort Second Street Corridor Project, Frankfort, Kentucky: This grant will reconstruct a main corridor including wider sidewalks, , ADA accessibility, streetscape enhancements, bike lanes and green infrastructure improvements.
- Hightower Road Corridor, Mississippi State University: This grant will help complete an approximately two-mile, multimodal north/south corridor including sidewalks, bike lanes and transit improvements.
We didn’t know what to expect from this year’s TIGER grant program.
The TIGER program is different from most transportation programs. For TIGER, the funding and rules around this program are decided through the budget/appropriations process each year.
The White House would like to end the TIGER program or changie the criteria for choosing projects. While the Senate included language in their draft budget requiring using the same criteria as in the past, that budget has not passed. However, the US DOT made the choice this year to use the same criteria (safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and quality of life). If the DOT had changed the criteria, it is possible bicycling, walking and complete streets projects may not have been competitive.
Transit did not do nearly as well this year as in the past.
In the past transit projects have received more than 20 percent of TIGER funding. This year they received less than four percent. It is unclear if this is due to a value judgement by the US Department of Transportation, by a lack of applications or something else. Either way it is definitely something for us to watch. We know that communities with good transit systems are often also good for bicycling.
The League will continue to advocate for TIGER… please join us.
Funding for TIGER is in danger: While the Senate included funding in their budget, the House of Representatives zeroed out the program in theirs. Please join the League in asking your Senators and Representatives to support full funding for the TIGER program in the FY 2018 and 2019 budgets.