I've wasted no opportunity in the past four years to talk about the short-term benefits--jobs--and the long-term benefits--economic competitiveness--of investing in transportation. And yesterday, I brought that message to the 2012 UIC Urban Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
It was pretty clear I had the advantage of a friendly audience because most of America's cities and urban planners share my belief in the value of infrastructure investments.
What I appreciate even more than that shared belief, however, is how our cities have taken the transportation ball and run with it. From Denver's Union Station project and light rail development to DC's Capital Bikeshare, cities across the nation have proven themselves to be champion innovators--moving people faster and more reliably, creating jobs, and paving the way for future economic growth.
We need look no further than our host city's ambitious Chicago Infrastructure Trust for proof that--faced with concern about the availability of resources--cities are taking bold steps to help secure their future.
And DOT is ready to partner with these innovators through a variety of programs that reward this kind of creative planning.
Since its launch, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) credit assistance program has helped 30 projects turn $10.4 billion in DOT assistance into $42 billion in infrastructure investment across America. And with the recent passage of our newest transportation bill, MAP-21, TIFIA is transforming into the largest transportation infrastructure loan program in history, making up to $17 billion in credit assistance available for critical infrastructure projects.
We've also made tremendous investments in cities and major metropolitan regions through our popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program. These grants reward projects that will create jobs, stimulate economic activity, and help develop livable communities. Through four rounds of TIGER, we've invested $3.1 billion in 218 innovative, problem-solving projects in all 50 states.
There's no doubt that, with the economy, times have been tough for cities across the country. But because of strong leadership from mayors and other community leaders, America's urban centers are finding ways to continue investing in the transportation systems we need to succeed and thrive in the 21st century. They're committed to building the best cities in the world--and DOT is committed to helping them succeed.