The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) annually funds the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grants program. TIGER funds projects that will have a significant impact on surface transportation infrastructure at a national, regional, or metropolitan level. The eighth round of TIGER funding is expected to be released this February.

In 2015, DOT awarded $500 million in grant funding for 39 transportation projects in 34 states However, DOT received applications from all 50 states, plus U.S. territories and tribal governments. All of those applications combined added up to $10.1 billion in grant funding requests.

As background, the TIGER program was started as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and has since been funded annually through appropriations to DOT. The program is focused on priority projects that have struggled to receive funds through formula funding or traditional funding mechanisms.

Application content remains substantially similar from year to year, and applicants should begin gathering support from stakeholders and developing an application in advance of the funding solicitation’s release date. What follows is an overview of key programmatic considerations.

Funding

  • ~$500 M total per round, with an approximately 25% rural set aside
  • $10 M - $30 M per award ($1 M minimum for rural projects)

Cost Share

  • 20% minimum provided by the applicant; TIGER may fund up to 80% of the total project cost (100% max for rural projects)
  • Priority for projects that utilize other funds (approximately 4 to 1 ratio of other funds to Federal funds in previous rounds); DOT seeks to be the “last dollar in” and provide funding to complete a financing package for projects that might not otherwise be built

Project Types

  • Highway or bridge projects
  • Public transportation projects
  • Passenger and freight rail transportation projects
  • Marine port infrastructure investments
  • No research, demonstration, or pilot projects that do not result in publicly accessible surface transportation infrastructure

Key Considerations

  • Due to short frame from which DOT receives funds to when it must obligate funds to projects, project readiness is a key consideration.
  • DOT looks to fund multi-modal projects that are difficult to fund otherwise.
  • Selection process: DOD agency staff typically select the top ~20% of projects that score highest on scoring criteria. Final selection is then made by the Secretary of Transportation who takes into account political considerations, geographic diversity and modal variation amongst projects.
  • Many successful projects wait in the queue for a year or more before they are selected. That is, projects may be passed over, and then selected later after they are improved by an updated application and effective advocacy around the application. Thus, applicants should consider a multi-year application and advocacy strategy

Eligible Organizations: State, local, and tribal governments including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other political subdivisions of state or local governments, and multi-State or multi-jurisdictional groups

Selection Criteria

Primary Selection Criteria

  • State of Good Repair: Improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, with emphasis on those that improve resiliency
  • Economic Competitiveness: Contribute to the economic competitiveness of the U.S. by improving the national transportation system
  • Livability: Increase transportation choices and access to transportation services for individuals nationwide
  • Environmental Sustainability: Improve energy efficiency, reduce dependence on oil, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Safety: Improve safety of U.S. transportation facilities and systems
  • Project Readiness: Permits obtained and planning process complete. Projects must be ready for quick implementation

Secondary Selection Criteria

  • Innovation: Extent to which projects use innovative technology (i.e. intelligent transportation systems, dynamic pricing, smart cards, etc.)
  • Partnership: Demonstrate collaboration among a broad range of participants, integration with other public service efforts, and a robust planning process.

Application Overview (30 pages max)

  • Project Description
  • Funds Requested
  • Project Parties
  • Responses to Selection Criteria (listed above)
  • Planning Approvals, NEPA and other environmental reviews/approvals
  • Applications submitted through Grants.gov. No pre-application required
  • Detailed Benefit Cost Analysis also required