The hunt is on for a share of $1.5 billion in U.S. Dept. of Transportation discretionary grants created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new program, which DOT calls Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, is aimed at projects that “will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region,” the measure says.

David Bauer, American Road and Transportation Builders Association senior vice president, says ARRA “basically had layers of activity.” For highways, the first layer was quick-starting projects like paving jobs, whose funds were obligated by July. Second-layer projects’ money must be obligated by March. TIGER grants are in a third layer for larger projects that may present opportunities for contractors and design firms, he says.

Applications were due on Sept. 15. At ENR press time, DOT had not finished its official count. A preliminary ENR tally, with American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ help, includes data from about 25 states and totals about $9.3 billion in requests. Among them are applications from individual states and multistate teams. For example, Pennsylvania is leading a five-state group seeking a total of $300 million for intermodal terminals and track work on the Crescent Corridor, a rail network from New Jersey to Louisiana. Localities also are eligible for the grants. ENR’s total includes some of those requests, such as Atlanta’s application for $298.3 million for a light-rail project.

($ millions)
Illinois “CREATE” program of rail improvements in Chicago 300
North Carolina I-85 improvements, including Yadkin River bridge 300.
Pennsylvania, Va., Ala., Miss., Tenn. Rail corridor projects, including intermodal facilities, track work. 300
Washington State Route 520 bridge replacement program 300
Alabama U.S. 280 elevated roadway 200
Missouri I-70 dedicated truck lanes 200
Colorado U.S. Route 36 corridor improvements 160-260
Iowa U.S. 34-U.S. 75 improvements, incl. Missouri River bridge 143.4
Wyoming Statewide wildlife-crossing underpasses, overpasses 100
Florida Improved road links to Southwest Fla. Int’l Airport 98.7.

“Clearly, there’s been an enormous amount of interest,” says Cathy Connor, Parsons Brinckerhoff senior vice president. The volume reflects states and localities that see an opportunity to access some funding while waiting for Congress to act on a reauthorization bill, she says.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood plans to announce TIGER winners in January. With grants capped at $300 million per project and $300 million per state, some applicants will be disappointed.