PHOENIX - The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking applications for $500 million of grants under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, which is highly-competitive and allows state and local governments to supplement bond funding for critical projects.

The deadline to submit an application for the FY 2017 TIGER grant program is Oct. 16.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 appropriated $500 million, available through Sept. 30, 2020, for TIGER grants. As with previous rounds of TIGER, funds for the fiscal year 2017 TIGER grants are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region.

The FY-2017 appropriations act specifies that TIGER grants may not be less than $5 million and not greater than $25 million. An exception is that for projects located in rural areas, the minimum TIGER grant size is $1 million.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Bloomberg News

“The TIGER grant program is a highly competitive program whose winners will be awarded with the funding they need to rebuild the infrastructure of their communities,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “TIGER grants will continue to fund innovative projects that will improve the safety of America’s passengers and goods.”

The FY-2017 TIGER program will give special consideration to projects which emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas, such as projects that improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness, the DOT said.

The DOT is hosting a series of webinars during the grant application process. Webinars on how to compete for TIGER grants will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 PM EDT on Sept. 13 and Sept. 19. The DOT said additional webinars will be scheduled.

The TIGER program is extremely popular, historically receiving more than 17 applications for every grant awarded. Federal officials estimate that each dollar of TIGER funding helps leverage about $3.60 of additional investment, and TIGER grants have been paired with bond financing and public-private partnership arrangements to help fund major infrastructure projects.

Since the TIGER grant program was first created in 2009, $5.1 billion has been awarded for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure through eight rounds of competitive grants.

Despite the popularity of TIGER, it is under constant threat of being cut or eliminated. Past legislative efforts to make it a multiyear program have stalled, forcing Congress to reauthorize it every year. This year it is again under threat of elimination from the budget, as the House baseline budget does not include TIGER appropriations.

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Kyle Glazier

Kyle Glazier

Kyle Glazier is the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief of The Bond Buyer. He covers securities law, regulation, and enforcement.