For the past 8 years, the TIGER program has been a showcase of American ingenuity, and this year is no exception.
Today, I’m proud to announce the award of nearly $500 million toward innovative infrastructure projects nationwide – funding projects in 40 communities across the country, including 32 states and 2 U.S. territories.
Anne is a nationally recognized expert in intermodal transportation with decades of experience in planning, policy, and research management. She has served at Volpe for over 20 years, where she has made substantial contributions to DOT priorities in leading Volpe’s research and technology staff – 490 analysts, economists, engineers, planners, scientists, and system developers.
The roads and bridges we drive on connect us to the places we need to go, our ports move freight around the country, and our transit systems are weaving our urban communities together. The health of our transportation system is directly related to our economic success, but the reality is that some of these assets are centuries old and in desperate need of repair, while the need for new infrastructure continues to grow.
I’ve made it a priority as Secretary of Transportation to support creative and innovative infrastructure finance, and to advocate for long term funding solutions. I am excited to announce that today we officially opened the doors of the new Build America Bureau, a center that will deliver real, tangible infrastructure development for local, regional, and national population centers.
In continuing our series of conversations with freight stakeholders nationwide, it is abundantly clear that freight movement impacts businesses everywhere in America. The economies of the three latest places I have visited – Des Moines, Iowa, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington – thrive on a wide array of industries, ranging from soybeans to steel to seafood. While the freight challenges are region-specific, other problems – such as bottlenecks and chokepoints – are common everywhere. What we know is that the interconnectivity of freight movement will expand, and that the future of transportation is one in which all forms of transportation—highways, rails, ports and airports—work together seamlessly.
Secretary Foxx's "Beyond Traffic" report from last year estimated that in the next 30 years freight volume will grow to 29 billion tons—an increase of 45 percent from 2014 levels—and he has said many times that the future of our economy rests on a robust transportation system to move materials and products.
As we continue to look toward a transportation network that is not only increasingly safe and efficient environmental impact remains a priority. Fast Lane readers will know that we haven't been shy about sharing the environmental benefits of shipping freight by water. From lower greenhouse gas emissions to higher fuel efficiency, we think the relative sustainability advantages of maritime shipping add up to a significant benefit for shippers and the public.
That said, I was excited to learn that Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) was recently honored for its environmental performance results for 2015. Presented by Green Marine, a North American environmental certification program, the receipt of this award demonstrates SLSDC’s continued excellence and leadership in environmental sustainability.
Earlier today, I was on hand to help state and local officials in Los Angeles County open the $88.7 million Nogales Street Grade Separation Project which will improve safety, reduce noise and emissions, and enhance freight movement throughout southern California. The project is central to the $4.6 billion Alameda Corridor East (ACE) Trade Corridor Improvement Plan in Southern California, which is using $125 million in federal funds, to connect the nation’s rail network to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The project, which relied on $22 million in federal funding, separates the two major rail lines, BNSF and Union Pacific, from local highways in the City of Industry, a suburb of Los Angeles.
When I visit Rhode Island, one of the first things I notice its extensive water resources available for tourism, sports and commerce not to mention the ability to move people from one place to another. Next, I think about the dynamic men and women working on and near the water in the maritime industries and businesses including ship construction and repair that support the State’s long-term economic prosperity. Boasting over 400 miles of coastline, it’s easy to see why maritime is a central part of the “Ocean State’s” heritage as well as the key to its economic future.
I saw this first hand last week when I joined Senator Jack Reed and Governor Gina Raimondo, along with other state and local officials, to christen the Port of Providence’s latest asset, a new crane barge christened the SANDY C. Funded, in part, by a $10.5 million Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, the SANDY C, along with two high performance mobile cranes delivered in 2013, are literally transforming the port into a modern marine cargo center.
Border crossings are a key part of our nation’s transportation system. They can make easier or more difficult the movement of people and goods—and they can promote or represent barriers to international commerce. Fortunately, innovative technology offers cost-effective solutions to help make the process of crossing a border run more smoothly.
According to the Department’s draft report “Beyond Traffic,” it is estimated that by 2040 freight volume will grow to 29 billion tons – an increase of over 45 percent – with much of this growth anticipated to impact border crossings.
Since border congestion can stifle commerce and negatively impact our economy, the Federal Highway Administration wants to find creative solutions.
Once again, demand for our TIGER competitive grant program has been overwhelming.
With 337 applications coming from urban areas and 248 from rural communities, the continued high level of interest in this widely successful program underscores the desperate need for transportation investment nationwide. In its eighth year with $500 million in available funding, TIGER applications totaled $9.3 billion. Communities across the country know that if we want a strong, multimodal transportation system that will meet our needs in the future, we need to make meaningful investments today.
The efficiency of freight movement affects the bottom line of businesses nationwide -- from the first mile, when a product is shipped, to the last mile, when it arrives at its destination. For businesses in the Northeast, this means cost – the cost of delivery and, increasingly, the costs of delay.
In New York City, 80 percent of freight is moved by truck -- leading to some of the worst and most expensive congestion in the country. The myriad of solutions to address the freight congestion in the Big Apple will call for complex undertakings such as the Cross Harbor Freight Program proposed by the Port of New York and New Jersey (the East Coast’s largest port). The project could improve freight movement across New York Harbor by offering a tunnel and various non-highway alternatives, such as rail.
At the same time, easier and proven solutions such as off-peak deliveries, or nighttime deliveries, continue to be part of the answer to freight congestion. There is no question that truck deliveries made when there is less traffic on the highways - can save time and money. With the rise in online shopping and other deliveries -- traditional approaches to freight shipping will change.