Yesterday, the Obama Administration rolled out $1.5 billion in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grant awards.
Now, I know transportation planners and interested citizens across the country were waiting to see the projects on our TIGER award list. The competition for grants was intense, the selection process rigorous.
One of the reports that I was particularly happy to read came from the freight shipping corner.
Of all the support I've read for the TIGER projects, Larry "Butch" Brown, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, really captured the big picture:
"These investments will unclog bottlenecks that delay freight shipments, reconstruct ports and improve rail lines--producing long-term economic benefits well beyond the initial construction work."
You know, although passengers and commuters have human faces, we need to remember that trade depends upon the safe, smooth, and efficient delivery of goods. Our groceries depend upon it as well. And jobs depend on it.
This DOT understands that.
So I was pleased to read that TIGER's efforts to relieve road, rail, and port congestion were well-received:
- Maine Governor John Baldacci: “These grants will enable Maine ports to make vital improvements that will help Maine businesses be more competitive.”
- US Rep. Mike Thompson (CA): "The inland marine highway project has received widespread support from the business community, local transportation and regional planning agencies, the goods movement and shipping sectors, air quality management districts, and labor."
- Business Lexington: "Short line railroads allow businesses in Kentucky to access global markets cost effectively. They carry over 28,500 outbound carloads of aluminum, sand and other goods annually, keeping more than 100,000 trucks off Kentucky roads and highways each year."
- Shipping News "Money spent on road routes will assist road drayage. One example is US-491, a primary truck route in north-west New Mexico, which is to receive $31million to widen 69 miles of what is described as ‘one of the most dangerous routes in New Mexico’."
I'll have more later today in these pages about the passenger side of the equation.
But, for now, I hope readers can appreciate the importance of these TIGER transportation investments in the lives of the truck drivers, railroad engineers, and ship and barge pilots who deliver the goods for us every day.