Image courtesy of Kansas City Streetcar Authority
Planned Kansas City streetcar line won $20-million grant, the largest in the fifth TIGER round.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has announced that 52 projects—including highways, bridge, transit, ports, rail and pedestrian paths—will share $474 million in grants in the latest round of its popular TIGER program.

In announcing the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program winners on Sept. 5, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters, “TIGER has helped get large, multimodal projects off the ground that would otherwise struggle to find support from traditional funding sources.”

The five largest grants will go to: Kansas City, Mo., streetcar, $20 million; Atlanta, BeltLine Corridor trail, $18 million; Rochester, N.Y., Inner Loop East reconstruction, $17.7 million; Fresno, Calif., Fulton Mall reconstruction, $15.9 million; and Boston, Mass., Connect Historic Boston pedestrian and bike paths, $15.5 million.

Foxx, in a conference call with reporters,  also noted that $121 million of the 2013 TIGER funds will go to projects in rural areas. In DOT's 2013 appropriations, Congress mandated that rural projects receive at least $120 million of this year's TIGER round's total funds.

As with the previous TIGER rounds, competition for the latest batch of funds was intense and most applicants did not make DOT's cut. In all, the department received 585 applications from agencies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. They sought a total of more than $9 billion, far more than the $474 million DOT had available to award.

Beth Osborne, DOT acting assistant secretary for policy, said winning projects generally scored well in about three of the department’s five criteria: economic competitiveness, safety improvements, community livability, environmental sustainability and rehabilitating infrastructure to a state of good repair.  

Agencies that receive TIGER aid typically supplement that money with state, local or private-sector funding. Foxx noted that the Kansas City streetcar project was "supported by a very strong funding source"—a local one-cent sales tax—which he said would provide about 80% of the project's cost, estimated at $102 million.

Osborne noted that another major factor in DOT's evaluations was a project's ability to obligate its TIGER funds by the statutory deadline of Sept. 30, 2014.

Since the TIGER program was launched in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, its five rounds have provided about $3.6 billion to 270 projects.