Daily Report for Executives - September 5, 2013, By Heather Caygle
Key Development: DOT awards $474 million in transportation grants to 37 states.
Next Steps: Foxx says TIGER program may be in jeopardy if sequestration continues.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Sept. 5 announced the latest round of infrastructure discretionary grants, while also taking the opportunity to warn that future federal funding for similar infrastructure projects may not be possible if sequestration continues.
"Sequester is a blunt instrument that will wreak havoc in not only programs like this but also obviously in other lines of DOT business," Foxx said during a conference call with reporters.
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program's current round of funding will provide $474 million in discretionary grants for 52 projects in 37 states. Roughly half of all projects that received funding are located in rural communities.
Foxx said he hoped lawmakers didn't lose sight of the need to pass a broad budget deal that eliminates sequestration cuts when Congress returns from recess Sept. 9. Chances of a long-term budget deal in the near future are highly unlikely, though, because congressional leadership has said they plan to pursue a short-term continuing resolution before the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and are also spending part of the month debating the need for U.S. military intervention in Syria.
"Amid everything else that's going on in the world right now, our hope is that there continues to be work on moving forward with a budget package that eliminates sequester," Foxx said.
During the latest round of funding, the DOT received 585 applications requesting more than $9 billion in funding. Although the number of applications is lower than during previous rounds of TIGER funding, Foxx said the amount of project funding that states and cities requested should send a clear message to lawmakers.
"America is hungry for transportation projects and that's the message the House and Senate need to hear loud and clear as they come back from recess," Foxx said.
The DOT chief praised the benefits of TIGER, which has often been a target for some Republican lawmakers because of the administration's discretion over the award process.
"TIGER has helped get large multimodal projects off the ground that would otherwise struggle to find support from traditional funding sources," he said. "These projects are truly ones that have the power to transform communities," he said.
In the five rounds of funding since the program's inception in 2009, TIGER has provided more than $3.6 billion in discretionary grants to 270 projects across the country.
Congress provided $500 million for the current round. That amount was reduced to $474 million by sequestration. The DOT is required to devote at least $120 million to rural projects.
A range of projects were approved for the current round of funding including $1.4 million for rail corridor improvements in New Hampshire, $18 million to build part of a 33-mile trail system in Atlanta, and $20 million for the Kansas City, Mo., streetcar project.
During the conference call, Foxx also reiterated the administration's push for Congress to pass a long-term surface transportation bill. The current law (Pub. L. No. 112-141) reauthorizes federal highway and transit programs through fiscal 2014. Congress passed the two-year bill in 2013, a departure from previous transportation bills, which last about five years on average.
For more information on the current round of TIGER funding, go to http://www.dot.gov/tiger/
The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.