The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Sept. 6 that it is taking
applications through Oct. 16 for $500 million in infrastructure project grants under the 2017 round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, more commonly known as TIGER.
"The TIGER grant program is a highly competitive program whose winners will be awarded with the funding they need to rebuild the infrastructure of their communities," said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. "TIGER grants will continue to fund innovative projects that will improve the safety of America's passengers and goods."
Under the fiscal 2017 appropriations act that Congress passed in April, TIGER grants will be for at least $5 million and not more than $25 million, the USDOT said, except that for projects in rural areas where the minimum size is $1 million. No more than $50 million can go to a single state, it said.
The announcement said that "the selection criteria remain fundamentally the same as previous rounds of the TIGER grants program, but the description of each criterion was updated."
That included changes in a section on judging the economic competitiveness of proposed projects. The USDOT added that for 2017 "projects that incorporate private-sector contributions, including through a public-private partnership structure, are likely to be more competitive [than] those that rely solely on public non-federal funding."
In addition, the 2017 program "will give special consideration to projects which emphasize improved access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas, such as projects that improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness," the USDOT said.
It noted that, as in the past, no less than 20 percent of the total or $100 million in grant funds must go to projects in rural areas.
In a formal
notice of funding availability, the USDOT said it "seeks applications for projects that exceed the minimum non-federal cost share requirement."
It also noted, using language reflected in past TIGER offerings, that the 2017 appropriations law "directs the department to prioritize projects that require a contribution of federal funds to complete an overall financing package," and that "all projects can increase their competitiveness for purposes of the TIGER program by demonstrating significant non-federal financial contributions."
However, it added, again echoing past TIGER announcements, that the "DOT recognizes certain communities with fewer financial resources may struggle to provide cost-share that exceeds the minimum requirements and will, therefore, consider an applicant's broader fiscal constraints when evaluating non-federal contributions."
The USDOT may retain up to $20 million from the grant pool for oversight and administration of the grants, it said. It may use up to $100 million of this TIGER round to pay federal subsidy and administrative costs for projects that receive credit assistance under the department's low-interest, long-term TIFIA loan program.
The notice also described a three-phase review process of all eligible project applications that are submitted before the deadline, a process ending with Chao making final grant selections from highly rated entries.
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