Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rail & Streetcars Win Stimulus Bucks

The Administration announced today the winners of the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, the $1.5 billion stimulus grant project aimed to send federal dollars directly to specific transportation projects and municipalities rather than diverted through the states. Freight rail projects won the largest sums, with large projects in Chicago and in Tennessee/Alabama securing the biggest grants. Streetcar projects in New Orleans, Tuscon and Dallas also won large grants. Unfortunately for us here in Atlanta, the proposed Peachtree Streetcar project failed to make the list.

The list is a mixed bag of wins and losses for smart growth. The streetcar projects, of course, are positives, and improving existing rail corridors is also beneficial to our transportation network. But some of these projects -- the toll highway through Irving and Grand Prairie, TX, for example -- appear to do nothing to promote the types of projects that the Administration seems to want to support. Overall, this is a step in the right direction, but much, much more is needed to promote smart growth and walkable, non-car-dependent cities.