After evaluating 627 applications, 50 of which were from ports, for the FY 2015 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced 39 awards for $500 million in funding to be made in the seventh round of this multimodal, discretionary grant program. Of those, five awards totaling $44.3 million, or about 9 percent of total funding, are going to commercial seaports or to projects that directly aid the efficient movement of goods to and from America’s ports.
Another $61 million, comprising four awards equal to about 12 percent of the total funding, is going to freight-related projects around the country which aid in the movement of goods, by rail and/or truck.
In a written statement today, Sec. Foxx said, “Transportation is always about the future. If we’re just fixing today’s problems, we’ll fall further and further behind.” He noted that as the nation’s population continues to grow, there’s increasing demand for goods that require the transportation system to do more. “In this round of TIGER, we selected projects that focus on where the country’s transportation infrastructure needs to be in the future; ever safer, ever more innovative, and ever more targeted to open the floodgates of opportunity across America.”
American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) President and CEO Kurt Nagle lauded DOT’s recognition of the critical role America’s ports play and the federal support provided in TIGER VII grants for seaports. He also noted that the direct funding for maritime infrastructure projects in this round of TIGER, along with the additional grants for freight rail and truck projects, will help improve freight mobility, including connections to ports.
“AAPA urges that 25 percent of TIGER grants be provided for port-related and connector infrastructure, since ports are one of the four eligible areas (along with highways/bridges, transit, and freight/passenger rail) for the TIGER program,” said Mr. Nagle. “Furthermore, AAPA strongly advocates for a dedicated funding program for freight in the next surface transportation bill that prioritizes goods-movement projects which optimize and integrate the nation’s freight transportation system.”
Since its inception as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, AAPA has been a strong supporter of the TIGER grant program. In TIGER’s first round in fiscal 2009, port-related infrastructure projects received about 8.6 percent of the original $1.5 billion allocated. In subsequent rounds, port-related infrastructure did better, garnering 14.6 percent (of the total $600 million) in the second, 12.8 percent (of the total $527 million) in the third, 13.6 percent (of the total $500 million) in the fourth, 13.3 percent (of the total $474 million) in the fifth, and 12.4 percent (of the total $600 million) in the sixth.
The five projects receiving awards in TIGER VII that directly aid the movement of goods through U.S. commercial ports are:
•Oxnard Harbor District (Port of Hueneme) for $12.3 million. The grant will provide funding to help improve the intermodal infrastructure at the Port of Hueneme, including deepening Berths 1 and 2, strengthening Wharf 1, modernizing cargo handling infrastructure, and extending on-dock rail.
•City of Baltimore’s Southeast Baltimore Port Industry Freight Corridor Plan for $10 million. The grant will provide funding to help restore functionality to and enhance a freight network of roads and bridges that connects the Port of Baltimore to regional and national highway systems. The project includes the replacement of the structurally deficient and functionally obsolete Colgate Creek Bridge, roadway improvements connecting freight directly to I-95 to enhance truck movement, and complete streets improvements.
•Ports of Indiana for $10 million. The grant will provide funding to help construct a double rail loop and rail-to-barge transfer facility with additional rail and turnouts. The project also includes construction of a nearly mile-long rail siding extension that will allow rail carriers to deliver a 90-car unit train to the port. The project will also construct a truck-to-rail intermodal facility in the vicinity of Connector Road to accommodate increasing truck traffic expected from the East End Bridge over the Ohio River.
•San Diego Unified Port District for $10 million. This grant will provide funding to help modernize the port’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal by removing obsolete transit sheds and constructing a new laydown area for temporary equipment storage with on-dock rail improvements. The Port of San Diego is designated as a Maritime Administration Strategic Port and supports the Navy’s activities of ship building and repair services as well as national security emergency logistics.
•Port of Newport (Ore.) for $2 million. Funds from this grant will help construct an international deep-water marine terminal with intermodal (marine/river/highway) access. The project includes development of a wetlands mitigation site, grading of property, development of a 10-acre laydown area with asphalt, fencing, small work shack, a storm water collection system, transportation improvements to SE Bay Boulevard, and the extension of water and sewer lines. The constructed area will have an estimated 75-100 year life span.
The four non-port, freight-related infrastructure projects that will aid in the efficient movement of goods are:
•The Indiana, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation for $25 million. This grant will provide funding to help implement a regional truck parking information management system using existing ITS technology on major truck freight routes in eight states. The information will be disseminated through smartphone applications, dynamic road signage, websites, and parking facilities. This innovative project will help truckers more quickly and reliably identify accurate and up-to-date information about the availability of safe truck parking for needed rest and overnight stays.
•The Maine Department of Transportation for $20 million. This grant will provide funding to rehabilitate approximately 380 miles of track throughout Maine, removing long-standing bottlenecks and creating faster and more reliable freight service. Led by Maine DOT, the project is backed by a partnership of the Maine Northern Railway, Central Maine and Quebec Railway, Eastern Maine Railway, and Pan Am Railways. Project upgrades include new rail, ties, and surfacing, upgraded road crossings, and the construction of additional yard tracks and more efficient configurations.
•The Vermont Agency of Transportation for $10 million. This grant will help improve service on the state-owned rail line between Rutland and Burlington, VT. This includes replacing approximately 11 miles of track with new rail, ballast and ties; rehabilitating the Rutland Wye; adding new gates for several public crossings; a new passing siding; a passing lane for trains in Pittsford and crossover in Leicester to allow for operational flexibility. The project will result in increased operating speeds of up to 40 mph for freight and nearly 60 mph for passenger trains on the entire Rutland-Burlington corridor. Freight shippers will benefit from the increased velocity and reliability brought on by the project.
•The South Dakota Department of Transportation for $6 million. Funds from this grant will help South Dakota increase rail capacity for agricultural shippers by constructing approximately 7,000 feet of rail near Phillip, SD, and replacing about 10 miles of rail near Huron, SD. Replacing 100 lbs. jointed rail with 115 lbs. continuous-welded rail and installing more than 7,000 new ties will allow increased train speeds on this section from 10 mph to about 40 mph. The new siding will add a location for trains to pass one another along a stretch of more than 160 miles of track which is currently single-tracked.