The advocacy group Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors is calling out the Department of Transportation for not granting enough funding money to critical freight-hub projects.
The money was delivered through two grant program – the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Project program, which is known as the FASTLANE program. DOT recently issued awards through the two programs and CAGTC contends that awards to fund nationally significant freight infrastructure fell short of expectations.
In July, DOT released its proposed list of 18 FASTLANE project awards followed by a round of TIGER funding. CAGTC said that despite the programs being aimed at increasing economic competitiveness, both failed to fund critical freight hubs.
“Like the early rounds of the TIGER competitive grant program, the FASTLANE award process will need fine tuning going forward to ensure all awards meet the program’s high standards,” said Tim Lovain CAGTC chairman. “We look forward to reviewing the full list of applications under the first round of FASTLANE and working with USDOT to ensure that in the future, funding is more focused on significant freight awards, as Congress intended.”
CAGTC has lobbied for a freight-specific grant program and the FASTLANE program was designed to address critical freight and highway needs. The grant money was intended to be focused on goods and infrastructure goals that would increase global economic competitiveness, according to CAGTC.
While in the past TIGER had given as much as 53% of its total funding toward goods movement benefitting projects, in its most recent round of funding only 26% was allotted to critical freight infrastructure, the lowest amount yet.
“The competitive grant tools designed to guide these investments require fine tuning to ensure limited resources provide the highest return by investing in goods movement,” said Leslie Blakely, CAGTC president. “Absent transparency from USDOT it is difficult to reconcile and understand how decisions were made, but we look forward to continuing our dialogue with USDOT and hope that future rounds of both the TIGER program and the FASTLANE program invest in the nation’s most critical freight assets.”