The October 31 deadline to apply for DOT's third round of TIGER grants has passed. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that we received applications totaling far more than the $527 million available for this competitive program. But the $14.1 billion in combined applications does make an impression.
The sheer number of applications--828, from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia--also makes an impression. The tremendous demand for these grants clearly shows that communities across the country can't wait any longer for crucial upgrades to the roads, bridges, rail lines, and bus routes they rely on every day.
And because they can't wait, we won't wait to review their applications. Earlier this month, President Obama directed DOT to expedite application review and award the TIGER III grants by the end of 2011. Now, that's months ahead of schedule, and it will mean extra work for our TIGER III team.
But, it also means DOT will be doing what we can to help these communities put men and women back to work solving critical transportation problems.
And we are absolutely ready to do it again. These vital investments will put Americans back on jobsites rebuilding transportation systems that badly need attention.
But, even the communities fortunate enough to have a project selected for TIGER III will tell you that more needs to be done. Economists, transportation engineers, and planners know that America's infrastructure needs transportation reauthorization.
So, for now, we'll be plenty busy at DOT reviewing the 828 TIGER III applications. But we've got miles of road, rail, and runway that need upgrading; we've got small businesses ready to put their equipment to work; and we've got men and women ready to do the job. Let's get busy.