Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
TIGER Project – Press Availability
Friday, May 4, 2018
Thank you, Congressman Barr [Rep. Andy Barr 6th District], for that introduction.
And let me thank you and others for planning this event. These include Mayor Bill May, City Manager Cindy Steinhauser, Dr. Houston Barber, Superintendent, Franklin County Schools, and Terri Bradshaw, CEO of the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation. Thank you all for joining us today outside Second Street School. If Mitch could be here with us today, he would be able to tell you what a strong voice Congressman Barr provides the people of Kentucky in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congressman Barr helped get Frankfort designated an Opportunity Zone as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He has been involved with the Second Street Corridor project for some time, and helped build community consensus behind this project. He even facilitated a meeting of Frankfort stakeholders in my office when they were visiting in DC.
So, I’m pleased to join you in celebrating the $8 million TIGER grant. It will help complete the $12.3 million Second Street Corridor project. This project will greatly improve the quality of life in this area. We just went through the area on the trolley to inspect the Second Street Corridor. It was easy to see that it presents a challenge to pedestrians and bicyclists. It has narrow sidewalks, a wide road, high speeds, illegal left turns and limited accessibility for seniors and persons with disabilities. This is not what you want near a school. So, this project will eliminate underused travel lanes, build wider sidewalks, and add traffic calming features and bike lanes.
The project will also improve access to bus transit facilities for low-income residents, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. And it offers environmental benefits. It will add a dedicated storm sewer, reduce stormwater run-off, and beautify the area with landscaping. These improvements should help strengthen and grow the local economy. And most important, it will allow children to go to and from the Second Street School in greater safety.
These benefits of this project contributed to Frankfort’s success in gaining this grant. Other important factors include the community’s financial participation, and the fact that it counts as a rural project. This year, the Department received 452 eligible applications for TIGER grants. Only 41 projects were chosen—so Frankfort can be proud that its proposal won in a very crowded and competitive field.
You should be aware that on April 20, DOT published a notice of funding opportunity for $1.5 billion through the new BUILD transportation grant program. BUILD expands the old TIGER grant program, and will make funds available to surface transportation projects on Grants.gov.
In FY 2018, BUILD grants will be dedicated to investments in surface transportation infrastructure. They will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that have significant local or regional impact.
BUILD applications will be evaluated based on the following merit criteria: safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership, and additional non-Federal revenue for infrastructure investments.
The deadline for BUILD applications is July 19, 2018. DOT must make awards by December 18, 2018. This will happen very quickly. So, webinars have been scheduled to guide applicants through the process. Just go to the Department’s home page at www.dot.gov, click on BUILD grants, and follow the link embedded in the press release. I hope you will help us get the word out about this important grant opportunity.”
As you know, this Administration has made infrastructure a high priority. It is the foundation of economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation. The President’s goal is to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment, which includes a minimum of $200 billion in direct federal funding. The guiding principles are to: 1) use federal dollars as seed money to incentivize infrastructure investment; 2) provide for the needs of rural communities; 3) streamline permitting to speed up project delivery; and, 4) reduce unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations. In addition, a key element of the proposal is to empower decision making at the state and local level, because local officials know best the infrastructure needs of their communities.
Half of the new infrastructure funds will go toward incentivizing new state and local investments in infrastructure. A quarter of the Federal funds will be dedicated to addressing rural infrastructure needs, as prioritized by state and local leaders like you. And as a former Secretary of Labor, I’m pleased to note this plan also has a workforce component, to help workers access the skills needed to build these new projects.
The Department of Transportation is already applying these principles to grant programs like TIGER, the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) and the recently announced Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development – or BUILD Transportation Grants. This alignment with the President’s vision helped Frankfort’s proposal.
This project demonstrates the importance of cooperation between the Federal government and state and local governments. Local government is a natural partner in infrastructure. Counties own and maintain 46 percent of the nation’s public roads, 38 percent of its bridges and more than a third of its public airports. They help pay for 78 percent of the public transit systems. The Department’s role, then, is not to tell you what to do, but to be your partner, because you know best the infrastructure needs of your community.
So, let me close by once again congratulating Frankfort and Kentucky for receiving this TIGER grant. The Department looks forward to working with you to ensure the Second Street Corridor project is a success.
# # #