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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Feds deny grant for St. Claude streetcar expansion

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

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The U.S. Department of Transportation this morning released a list of projects that will receive a total of $511 million in round three of the Transportation Income Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

Not on the list of approved TIGER III projects was the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's application to extend its planned Rampart/St. Claude streetcar project from the French Quarter to Poland Avenue in the Bywayer. RTA originally planned to extend the service to Press Street, but RTA recently scaled it back to Elysian Fields, The Times-Picayune reported last month:

... RTA officials told a community meeting Tuesday night at Holy Angels Convent that further analysis shows they lack the money to take the line to Press Street.

Instead, the agency will use money from a 2010 bond sale that netted the agency $79 million to create the service along Rampart and St. Claude to Elysian Fields, a distance of about 1.3 miles. A decision has not been made on whether to run the tracks on the neutral ground or in traffic lanes on both sides of the median. The new line will tie in with the existing Canal Street line.

DOT did, however, award $16.7 million to help pay for an an expansion of the Port of New Orleans rail yards, which, is "expected to generate or maintain 384 construction and maritime jobs," according to Rep. Cedric Richmond, by way of The Times-Picayune.

(More after the jump)

Last year, the RTA received $45 million to pay for the Loyola Avenue streetcar line — now under construction — in the first round of TIGER grants. As The Lens reported in September, that earlier award likely made a second one, for the St. Claude extension, something of a long shot.

Download DOT's full list of approved projects, plus descriptions (52 pages): FY2011_TIGER.pdf

From today's DOT press release:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) received 848 project applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, requesting a total of $14.29 billion, far exceeding the $511 million made available for grants under the TIGER III program.

“The overwhelming demand for these grants clearly shows that communities across the country can’t afford to wait any longer for Congress to put Americans to work building the transportation projects that are critical to our economic future,” said Secretary LaHood. “That’s why we’ve taken action to get these grants out the door quickly, and that is why we will continue to ask Congress to make the targeted investments we need to create jobs, repair our nation’s transportation systems, better serve the traveling public and our nation’s businesses, factories and farms, and make sure our economy continues to grow."


The grants will fund a wide range of innovative transportation projects in urban and rural areas across the country:

* Of the $511 million in TIGER III funds available for grants, more than $150 million will go to critical projects in rural areas.
* Roughly 48% of the funding will go to road and bridge projects, including more than $64 million for Complete Streets projects that will spur small business growth and benefit motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
* 29% of the funding will support transit projects like the Westside Multimodal Transit Center in San Antonio.
* 12% will help build port projects like the Port of New Orleans Rail Yard Improvements.
* 10% will go to freight rail projects like the Muldraugh Bridge Replacement in Kentucky.
* Three grants were also directed to tribal governments to create jobs and address critical transportation needs in Indian country.
* Three grants will provide better multimodal access to airports, including DFW in Texas.

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