The following message was sent to the UTU National Legislative Office from Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo
The winners of TIGER 2013 grants were announced last week, and rail was again a big winner. Of the $474 million in funding awarded to 52 projects in 37 states, $146 million – roughly 30 percent of all funding – went to rail projects. Through five rounds now, TIGER – which stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery – has invested $808 million in rail projects in 48 states.
TIGER catalyzes economic growth, creating good-paying jobs while building a stronger transportation system for future generations. These are innovative, top-priority transportation projects that state, city, and community leaders deem essential.
But what we’re able to invest is just a drop in the bucket compared to the demand. For this round of TIGER, DOT received more than 500 applications requesting 20 times the funding available.
Last week, at announcement events for freight rail projects in Vermont and New Hampshire, I saw firsthand the commitment of state, city, and community leaders to doing what it takes to upgrade and enhance the safety of their freight rail systems. And it’s important to note that, for the 52 projects funded through TIGER, DOT’s grantees committed $1.8 billion in overall project costs.
This speaks to the fact that, to our partners, these projects aren’t luxuries, but absolute necessities. And to us, the projects moving ahead and those left on the planning table exemplify the need to make bold investments in transportation, and also to provide a dedicated, predictable source of federal rail funding.