California receives $3.5 billion in TIGER federal transportation funds; projects selected may indicate
a change in transportation policy and planning priorities
By: Elba Garcia, Master of Public Policy Candidate 2011
The U.S. DOT recently announced the 51 transportation projects that will receive stimulus funds through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER). The TIGER grant program was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to distribute $1.5 billion in grants for transportation projects. The program received over one thousand project proposals totaling nearly $60 billion for projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories.
California submitted 126 project proposals, the second highest number of applications, for a total of $3.5 billion. Only four California projects were selected for a total of $130 million. These include the following projects: the Doyle Drive Replacement (San Francisco), to help create the new Presidio Parkway; Alameda Corridor East – Colton Crossing (San Bernardino), to eliminate the mainline at-grade rail crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF Railway at Colton; the California Green Trade Corridor/Marine Highway Project (Yolo, San Joaquin, Alameda, West Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland), to develop and use a marine highway system as an alternative to existing truck and rail infrastructure; and Otay-Mesa Port-of-Entry I-805/SR-905 Interchange (San Diego), to fund an interchange linking I-805 in San Diego to the new SR-905 highway now under construction. Only one California project is rail-related, in contrast with rail-related projects constituting the majority of funded projects across the country. Moreover, while the Ports of Oakland, Stockton, and West Sacramento received funding, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach did not. Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA37) expressed her disappointment that no funds were awarded to the Ports of Los Angeles, while ports in other states, including Maine, Mississippi, and Hawaii, which move less TEU’s per year received funding.
The choice of projects funded through TIGER potentially reflects a change in transportation policy and planning priorities. Overall, more rail and transit projects were funded than highway projects. This is consistent with President Obama’s support for inter-city high-speed rail, and a shift away from transportation dependence on highways.
A list of all selected projects is available in PDF.