It seems like every city in the U.S. has a plan or a conversation going about building density and walkability back into their downtowns. In 2009, the federal government acknowledged the historic shift back to cities, America's reduction in driving and the need to build vibrant places that are less car dependent with a new, billion dollar sustainable transportation fund.
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) is a competitive grant program through the Department of Transportation, which has provided support to local governments and transportation agencies to develop multimodal transportation hubs (where different forms of transportation converge) and streets that accommodate pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access.
It also includes $1.2 billion over the next six years for competitive grant funding to facilitate cooperative, data-driven transportation planning efforts between state and local governments, as well as $108 billion over the next six years to expand transit capital and operations programs, which will significantly contribute to expanding travel options for transit-dependent households.
April 3, 2014 kicked off the application period (on grants.gov) for the current round, $600 million, of TIGER grants.
To inspire Northeast Ohio's local governments, transit agencies and metropolitan planning agencies to apply, here are ten communities that have won TIGER grants and are using them as part of a larger vision to bring density and access to sustainable transportation options back.
- Oklahoma City’s mayor writes about their “Millennial” attraction strategy to leverage a new, penny sales tax with a $13.6 million TIGER grant. They will renovate an Art Deco train station as a transit hub which brings together new bus service and a $130 million streetcar line.
- Ft. Myers teamed up with Lee County in their successful bid for a $10.5 million TIGER grant to build a connected corridor of biking and walking facilities linking downtown and county.
- Pittsburgh won a $10 million TIGER grant in 2011 to refurbish an old rail bridge into a bike/pedestrian facility that will “flyover” former steel mill, Carrie Furnace, and open access to the site for a park and redevelopment (similar ideas have been floated about the Towpath Trail in Cleveland’s Industrial Valley).
- Cincinnati’s transit agency won a $10.9 million TIGER grant in 2011 to start building its streetcar, in particular, its Riverfront loop (which is under construction).
- Indianapolis’ transit agency won a $10 million TIGER grant in 2013 to purchase 22 buses that were converted from diesel to all-electric drives.
- Detroit won a $25 million TIGER grant in 2009 to build its “M1” a 3.4 mile-long light rail system with 12 station stops connecting downtown to the New Center district along the region's main artery on Woodward Avenue (anticipated start date, spring 2014).
- The city of Peoria, Illinois won a $10 million TIGER grant in 2010 to construct a Complete Street network and pursue plans to revitalize its downtown Warehouse District through mixed-used development.
- The town of Olean, New York (east of Jamestown) won $6.5 million TIGER grant in 2013 for Walkable Olean: Complete Street Transformation. The town will “transform and repair the dilapidated and overly wide main road into a calm, traditional boulevard, with a 7-foot buffered bike lane in each direction, a tree-lined median, and raised mid-block crosswalks.”
- The Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority won a $20 million TIGER grant in 2009 to build a bus-transfer facility in downtown Kent. The facility will provide bike parking, new commercial space, and supports improved bus linkages to Cleveland and Akron.
- Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority won a $12.5 million TIGER grant in 2011 to build a Rapid station for the Red Line at Mayfield Road in Little Italy (under construction now). RTA also won a $10.5 million TIGER grant in 2010 to rebuild the University Circle Red Line Rapid Station (also under construction).
See all of the projects that have been funded by TIGER grants.