Dear Campaign Advocate,
Good news! The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently issued guidelines under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) making it clear that communities will have a new source of funding to jumpstart implementation of local 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation plans. The $1.5 billion-fund created by ARRA enables USDOT to issue discretionary (competitive) grants for surface transportation infrastructure. The guidelines are explicit: The fund may be used to build "new or improved biking and walking infrastructure."
Inclusion of active transportation in this grant program—"Grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery" (or TIGER Discretionary Grants)—marks an extension of our initial ARRA victory in which states were mandated to set aside $800 million extra for Transportation Enhancements (TE) funding in the initial year of the economic recovery bill. Initial TIGER grant awards will be made by February 17, 2010, coinciding with the sunset of the TE boost on the first anniversary of ARRA. It runs for two additional years, as projects must be completed by February 17, 2012.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood promised Rails-to-Trails Conservancy that the TIGER Discretionary Grants would focus on relatively neglected priorities. We were pleased with his leadership in ensuring the suitability of the grant program for active transportation. Two key features make it so: (1) identification of "livability" as one of five "long-term outcomes" that constitute primary selection criteria for grants, and explicit listing of bicycling and walking infrastructure as a means to promote livability; and (2) a liberal approach to granting waivers of the $20 million grant floor, clearing the way for funding of active transportation projects which seldom reach this threshold. Further, applicants who demonstrate intermodal connectivity and accessibility benefits—as many of you did in your local active transportation case statements—will be highly competitive.
Together, the TE boost and the TIGER Discretionary Grants provide an opportunity for you to advance your active transportation system before the creation of the Active Transportation Investment Fund* that we seek from the transportation reauthorization bill. Think of this as a bridge to a future in which we will routinely build safe (walking and bicycling) routes to everywhere.
We encourage you to seize this opportunity and begin applying now for TIGER Discretionary Grants to get started on your plans.
Things to keep in mind as you apply for TIGER Discretionary Grants:
- State and local governments are eligible to apply.
- First round applications are due September 15, 2009.
- Grants are made to projects that have a significant impact on the entire nation, a metropolitan area or a region. Transit and other large infrastructure projects will compete for these grants. Think big! Try to offer a package that will further your integrated active transportation network.
- Break your 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation plan into time segments:
-- Shovel-ready projects under contract by February 2010: ARRA TE set aside
-- Aspects of network to be built between Feb. 2010 and Feb. 2012: ARRA TIGER Discretionary Grants
-- Complete bike/ped infrastructure and program: Active Transportation Investment Fund* in transportation bill. (If you succeed in getting ARRA funds, you should update your case statement to reflect the next generation of work needed.)
- Primary selection criteria are long-term outcomes (including livability), and job creation and economic stimulus. Quick jobs, especially those that benefit small businesses or economically distressed areas, will be valued in this process.
- Secondary criteria are innovation and partnerships, with value put on co-benefits such as energy efficiency and environmental improvement.
- Consult Federal Register/Vol. 74, No. 94/Monday, May 18, 2009 for details.
The opportunity to compete for TIGER Discretionary Grants is an exciting one. But moving forward, we need your continued enthusiastic engagement in the 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation to ensure that larger sums dedicated solely to active transportation flow in an ongoing and strategic manner.
For questions regarding the TIGER Discretionary Grants and how it relates to the 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Mills, Vice President of Policy
* The envisioned fund in the forthcoming transportation reauthorization from which local active transportation networks, such as those identified in local case statements, would be funded.