Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

August 3 Webinar on USDOT's TIGER Grants and Rural America

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on July 1, 2011, that it would offer a third round of the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program, which funds innovative, job-creating transportation projects. DOT is authorized to award $526.944 million through the program. At least $141 million of the program funds will be reserved for projects in rural areas.  (See Reconnecting America’s blog post for general information on TIGER.)

Reconnecting America is partnering with a number of organizations, including the American Public Transportation Association, the National Association of Development Organizations, the National League of Cities, PolicyLink, Rural Assembly, Smart Growth America, and Transportation for America, to support rural communities in submitting strong applications for this funding. To this end, our organizations are offering a webinar for rural transportation and planning practitioners on August 3 at 2:00 pm EDT. The webinar will provide an overview of TIGER, discuss innovative rural transportation projects, and showcase successful rural projects from earlier TIGER grant cycles. This webinar is the first in a two-part series that target prospective TIGER applicants from rural communities. The second webinar will take place in August and will focus on forming interdisciplinary, regional partnerships and on successful grant writing.

What: “TIGER Grants and Rural America”

When: Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

Where: Webinar information will be sent to registrants

RSVP: Click here to register.

The required set aside for rural communities represents nearly 27% of total TIGER funds, which is an increase from the portion directed toward rural places in the prior two rounds of funding. Especially given the municipal money woes faced in many rural communities, TIGER creates a particular opportunity to implement transportation projects that create jobs, support community and economic development and promote quality-of-life. In the first two rounds of funding, multimodal transit stations were a common type of project among successful rural applicants. For example, in 2010 Kent, Ohio (population 28,904) received a $20 million TIGER grant to build a new bus transfer center that will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization and redevelopment of the city’s downtown. The new station will serve as a transfer point for bus passengers traveling between Akron, Cleveland and other destinations in Portage County and will include retail space, bicycle storage and parking. With a green roof and geothermal heating, the building will serve as the city’s signature green building project. The City of Kent has estimated that the project will generate $105 million in total public and private development, create 266 construction jobs and 703 permanent jobs, and bring in $5.8 million in annual tax revenue for the city.

Complete Streets projects have been another common type of transportation project funded in rural communities through the TIGER program. Complete Streets provide safe and inviting travel options for all people, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, people with disabilities and drivers. In one example, TIGER II awarded $3.5 million to Hailey, Idaho (population 6,200) to rebuild a 2.44 mile street in order to add sidewalks, bike lanes, bus shelters, bike parking, landscaping and traffic calming elements. A similar project in Fort Valley, Georgia (population 8,200) received roughly $1.5 million from TIGER II to rebuild State University Drive to include a median, streetlights and improved sidewalks and crosswalks. Other innovative TIGER-funded projects that benefit rural communities have included a commuter rail extension and station in West Fitchburg, Massachusetts, short-line freight rail improvements in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, and an electric vehicle corridor project in Oregon.

See a full list of TIGER II projects, with rural recipients highlighted, here.

See a list of TIGER I projects here.