The applications for TIGER 2013 are in, and the conclusion is clear: America's communities want to make their transportation infrastructure safer and more effective, and they need Federal support to do it.
With this year's TIGER awards, once again the number of applications has far exceeded the available funding. We received 568 applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa.
The total amount of these applications? $9 billion. That's nearly 20 times the $474 million Congress made available to the program.
President Obama challenged us to improve our nation’s infrastructure to provide the transportation choices people and businesses want and the efficiency and safety they need. Since 2009, DOT's TIGER investments have done just that across the country by helping communities relieve congestion, create jobs, and generate lasting economic growth.
The previous four rounds of our TIGER program provided $3.1 billion to 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. And competition was stiff for those funds; during the previous four rounds, we received more than 4,050 applications requesting more than $105.2 billion for transportation projects across the country.
It's no surprise to see this year's applications continue that pattern.
These challenges are not just inconveniences. They can choke economic activity. Employers are unable to hire the best and brightest young professionals. Potential customers and clients are kept from the businesses that need them. Raw materials can't get to manufacturers. Finished goods can't get to markets.
DOT's TIGER has helped. TIGER rewards innovative transportation solutions that emerge from within communities, solutions that are supported by the kind of regional and organizational partnerships that improve the odds of project success.
When people come together, put aside their differences, and work in unity to solve the problems their communities face, good things happen. However, these innovative solutions can fall through the cracks between traditional state and Federal funding programs.
For this year's awardees, TIGER will help fill the gap. But the sheer number of applicants and the $9 billion sought tell us that the need for a program with TIGER's agility will continue.
It's a need we cannot afford to ignore.