The first of two webinars designed to help rural communities take advantage of the Department of Transportation's TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants was held Aug. 3. The outreach effort to support rural communities in submitting strong applications for this funding is supported by a number of organizations, including Reconnecting America, the American Public Transportation Association, the National Association of Development Organizations, the National League of Cities, PolicyLink, Rural Assembly, Smart Growth America, and Transportation for America.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on July 1, 2011, that it would offer a third round of the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program, which funds innovative, job-creating transportation projects. DOT is authorized to award $526.944 million through the program. At least $141 million of the program funds will be reserved for projects in rural areas. (See Reconnecting America’s blog post for general information on TIGER.)
Looking for funding for a new project in your community? HUD, DOT, EPA, and several other agencies have made available millions of dollars in funding to support the planning and implementation of projects that promote sustainable communities. Funding is available for a variety of uses, including community planning, affordable housing finance, technical assistance, research, and capital infrastructure investments. To help you navigate the complex maze of opportunities, Reconnecting America has compiled a list of all upcoming programs and deadlines.
While I appreciate Chairman Mica's commitment to moving forward on this important legislation, his outline for a six-year, $230 billion surface transportation bill represents a cut of approximately one-third from current funding levels and would cost well over half a million jobs. As a former elected official myself, I certainly understand the challenges he faces in moving this legislation forward during tough financial times. But these are exactly the times in which we must invest in our infrastructure - it is the path we will travel to job creation.
In anticipation of the release of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the 2011 round of HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants, Reconnecting America did a series of interviews with successful applicants from the 2010 round of HUD Regional Sustainable Communities Grants to understand has led to the formation of strong collaborative efforts that were successful in winning a highly competitive grant. These interviews included winners of both the Category 1 grants to support the creation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development and Category 2 grants for Detailed Execution Plans and Programs.
Representative John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced a far-reaching plan to privatize the Northeast Corridor (NEC) as well as intercity passenger and commuter rail service.
After receiving applications from half the states last month, the Obama Administration announced the winners of the High Speed and Intercity Rail grant program today. John Robert Smith, the President and CEO of Reconnecting America stated, "The vision created by these grants is one that should excite the American people. It calls for a high performance rail system that is reliable and competitive with the automobile and has the ability to reduce Americans' dependence on foreign oil."
The recently announced compromise to fund the federal government through the remainder of FY2011 preserves several critical programs, but also raises cause for concern. Reconnecting America is pleased to see that the compromise continues to support the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is effectively coordinating federal housing and transportation programs to provide the greatest benefits at the regional and local levels. Programs such as DOT's TIGER grants and HUD's Sustainable Communities grants will save taxpayer dollars over the long-term by helping communities make better investments today.
However, the reduction in the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts/Small Starts program (see analysis of cuts here) and the complete elimination of the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program in FY 2011 is a step in the wrong direction. In this era of $4-a-gallon gas, Americans need more transportation options, not fewer. In…
Q. How much funding is cut from the New Starts/Small Starts program?
A. The final Continuing Resolution, which would fund the government through the end of FY2011, made two cuts to the federal New Starts/Small Starts program, which provides funding for fixed guideway (e.g., subway, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit) projects. The amount of funding cut from FY11 depends on what the baseline for comparison is. The CR would fund the New Starts/Small Starts program in FY11 at $1.6 billion, which is $400 million less than the FY10 level – but only about $220 million less than what the President requested for FY11. (The President’s request for FY11 was $1.822 billion, while the FY10 actual appropriation was $2 billion).
The CR also rescinds $280 million from unobligated funds that were appropriated to FTA prior to FY11.
Q. Is it true that all of the funding that is cut is attributable to New Jersey’s ARC project?
Today, John Robert Smith, president and CEO of Reconnecting America, testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, representing the Transportation for America coalition. Co-founded by Reconnecting America, the Transportation for America coalition consists of housing, business, environmental, public health, transportation, equitable development, and other organizations who are all seeking to align our national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, energy security, health, housing and community development.