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Stimulus TIGER Grants Signal New Direction for Transportation

02/18/2010

For Immediate Release: 

February 17th, 2010                                                                                                                         

Contact:

Hilary Reeves

Transit for Livable Communities

651-767-0298 x115  (cell:  612-554-1795)

HilaryR@tlcminnesota.org

St. Paul, MN — Today’s announcement of $1.5 billion in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants again highlighted a new direction for transportation in the United States.  “The TIGER funding of $35 million for a Union Depot transit hub marks a significant step forward in developing an integrated transit system that connects people from all parts of our metropolitan area, east and west,” said Dan Hoxworth, executive Director for Transit for Livable Communities.

The Union Depot project will be the hub of an east metro system that includes interstate high speed rail, the Central Corridor Light Rail project, Red Rock commuter rail from Hastings, the Rush Line rail/bus rapid transit line from Forest Lake, an extension of the Northstar commuter rail to St. Paul and improved local and regional bus and bike connections.

“On a larger scale, the TIGER investments signal a shift in federal policies such that all types of transportation investments compete under the same criteria—criteria that reward livability, environmental protection, and economic development in addition to cost-effectiveness, whatever the community—urban, suburban, or rural,” Hoxworth said.We congratulate the Obama Administration on this new approach,” Hoxworth said.

Few traditional highway expansion projects made the list of TIGER-funded projects: 26% went to transit, 25% to freight rail, 23% to highway, 19% to multi-modal/other, and 8% ports. TLC, which administers the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program known as Bike Walk Twin Cities, was pleased to see funding for similar efforts in Indianapolis and Philadelphia as well as a TIGER grant for a Complete Street project for our neighbors in Dubuque, Iowa. 

“This funding pattern is good for jobs,” Hoxworth said, citing a recent study by USPIRG and Smart Growth America indicating that spending on transit projects creates more jobs than spending on roads. “These TIGER investments will help maintain our nation’s infrastructure in good condition and provide more options for moving people and goods.”

Neither of the two major highway expansion projects proposed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation – the $201 million expansion of the I-494/TH-169 interchange in the southwest metro and the $582 million new bridge proposed over the St. Croix River south of Stillwater received any funding. Two other freight rail projects and a port project proposed by MnDOT, and projects proposed by other cities and counties also did not receive funding.

“Given this new federal direction, it is incumbent on the Twin Cities region and the state to adjust our plans and investment strategies accordingly,” Hoxworth said. “A good next step would be approval of the state GO bonding bill with the maximum amount for transit-way and trail projects and approving the state-wide Complete Streets legislation. For too many years Minnesota has lost out in the competition for federal transit dollars. A state-wide commitment to a more multi-modal future – as in the Union Depot project – will ensure that the federal government will be our funding partner.”

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Transit for Livable Communities is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization working to reform Minnesota’s transportation system. Through advocacy, organizing, and research, Transit for Livable Communities promotes a balanced transportation system that encourages transit, walking, biking, and transit-oriented development. www.tlcminnesota.org

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