7/13/2015 — 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today wrote to express their concern with a proposed overhaul to the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program within the Committee’s surface transportation reauthorization bill.  Senator Collins is Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and Senator Reed serves as the panel’s Ranking Member.
 
In the letter, Senators Reed and Collins highlighted the tremendous value of the TIGER grant program, noting that, “We strongly believe that the TIGER grant program has been a resounding success, and has allowed the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to explore ways to deliver projects faster, save on construction costs, and make investments in our nation's infrastructure that make communities more sustainable.”
 
Currently, the Committee’s proposed bill would significantly change the TIGER grant program, entirely replacing it as it exists today.  Senators Reed and Collins strongly advocated against an overhaul of the program, stating, “Replacement of the TIGER grant program is not necessary; the reauthorization, however, is.”
 
Last week, Reed and Collins joined Senators Murray (D-WA) and Durbin (D-IL) to introduce the bipartisan TIGER Act, a bill that would authorize the successful TIGER discretionary grant program.
 
Read the full text of the letter below:
 
July 13, 2015
 
The Honorable John Thune
Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation
512 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington DC, 20510
 
The Honorable Bill Nelson
Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation
425 Hart Senate Building
Washington DC, 20510
 
Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson:
 

Surface transportation programs are vital to much of our country’s economy, infrastructure, and well-being. Every day, millions of Americans use, and rely on, our nation’s transportation system that the Federal Government authorizes, funds, and continues to update. That is why we are pleased to see the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation move forward on the reauthorization of critically important surface transportation programs under the Department of Transportation. We believe that long-term legislation is the right step to ensure the safety and long-term viability of our surface transportation systems.

However, the complete overhaul of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program is a portion of your legislation that concerns us greatly. Under Title I, Section 1206, your bill would establish a grant program to fund freight infrastructure projects, replacing the TIGER grant program as it exists today. We strongly believe that the TIGER grant program has been a resounding success, and has allowed the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to explore ways to deliver projects faster, save on construction costs, and make investments in our nation's infrastructure that make communities more sustainable. Additionally, the current TIGER grant program provides flexibility to state and local agencies and public-private partnerships, thereby giving communities the ability to solve complex transportation challenges.

The raw numbers suggest just how successful the program has been. Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.6 billion for seven rounds of TIGER grants to fund regional and local projects that have a significant impact on the country.

The program’s highly competitive process, galvanized by tremendous applicant interest, has allowed the USDOT to fund 342 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Demand has been overwhelming, and during the previous seven rounds, the USDOT received 6,732 applications requesting more than $133 billion for transportation projects across the country.

Replacement of the TIGER grant program is not necessary; the reauthorization, however, is. As your Committee continues through the process of marking up your legislation, we hope that you will reconsider an overhaul of the program, and instead reauthorize the vehicle that has been essential to rebuilding our infrastructure, stimulating our economy, creating jobs, and providing increased public safety.

Thank you for your consideration.

-end-