LaHood: Stimulus grants big on rail

| 2/17/2010

Freight rail and commuter rail are the big winners in the latest round of federal grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Kansas City on Wednesday, Feb. 17, to announce the next 51 recipients of approximately $1.5 billion in funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery – or TIGER – program.

Photo by David Tanner/Land Line Magazine

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signs a big check for $50 million to be used for transit upgrades in Kansas City, MO. Local, state and federal officials joined in on Wednesday, Feb. 17, to help LaHood announce $1.5 billion in federal grants for innovative transportation projects around the U.S.

The largest grant of $105 million is marked for the Crescent Corridor Freight Rail Project in Alabama and Tennessee. Also near the top is a $98 million grant to the National Gateway Freight Rail Corridor in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.

Several highways and bridges made the list, including $10 million for improving an I-95 interchange in South Carolina and a $35 million grant to the state of Washington to upgrade U.S. 395 in Spokane.

But for the most part, rail is taking a significant share of the largest grants, and that has America’s truckers talking about the need for highway and bridge investments.

“There’s been an emphasis placed on rail through the economic stimulus bill, through the TIGER grants being announced today and previous announcements for high speed rail,” said Mike Joyce, legislative affairs director for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“We remain confident that Congress in the next authorization bill will fund highways robustly because, as we know, highway spending helps our economy compete in the global marketplace and alleviates congestion.”

Several projects on the list involve bus transit.

The city that hosted LaHood’s visit, Kansas City, is set to receive a $50 million grant to improve transit corridors and the city’s “Green Impact Zone” established by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-MO.

More than 1,400 applicants tried for the grants from all 50 states, according to the DOT.

Streetcars and bike paths also made the list as the Obama administration continues to promote “livable communities” with stimulus money and other forms of funding.

– By David Tanner, staff writer