In the most recent episode of my "On the Go" video series, one questioner asked about what DOT was doing to improve transportation in rural communities. I responded that one step we were about to take was to award nearly $143 million of our third round of TIGER grants to rural projects. And yesterday, we made good on that promise--and then some--by announcing more than $150 million in TIGER discretionary awards to 16 rural and 4 tribal communities.
From bridge reconstruction between Richmond and Dresden, Maine, to road improvements in the Native Village of St. Michael's, Alaska, DOT is helping rural and tribal residents get where they need to go safer and more reliably. And in each of those communities, building these projects will create jobs.
As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack wrote on the USDA blog, "These investments will help boost economic development and make rural communities more attractive for businesses. By improving our bridges, transit, freight, and ports, we’ll support agriculture jobs and make trucking of goods faster and more efficient for our farmers and ranchers."
The project to upgrade Snake Road on the Big Cypress Reservation in south central Florida is a terrific example of a TIGER grant that will solve a critical safety problem. The existing road--a designated hurricane evacuation route--has two 10-foot lanes, with worn, unpaved shoulders. The road's intermittent sidewalks are substandard. The project will expand the travel lanes to a more standard 14 feet and build a paved 16-foot median, a 5-foot sidewalk on the east side, and a 12-foot multi-use path on the west side. It's easy to see how this $3.7 million grant will lead to a significant safety improvement for the Seminole tribe in the area.
The Snake Road ugrade is just one of four tribal community projects awarded grants in this round of TIGER discretionary funding. That's a significant increase over our previous TIGER round when no tribal projects were awarded capital grants.
to improve safety on the portion of U.S. 101 that runs through tribal lands. It's a terrific project to solve the challenges of a high-accident corridor that is also the main thoroughfare of the tribe's lands. A key feature of this unique project is that it capitalizes on a first-of-its-kind partnership between a tribe, a state DOT, and USDOT to identify solutions using a Road Safety Audit.
I've said repeatedly that TIGER would bring regional partners together to craft good solutions to common problems, and the US 101 Smith River project is a great example of that kind of cooperation.
A rural project sponsored by another unique regional partnership is the Mississippi River bridges upgrade to four highway crossings in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The three states partnered with each other and with private contractors to launch this project. Even more interesting is that the bridge upgrades will benefit roadway users as well as Missisppi River barge pilots.
When President Obama said "We cant wait," America's rural and tribal communities stood up and shouted their agreement. They can't wait for budget-strapped state governments. They can't wait for a Congress that has repeatedly failed to set aside partisan disputes and reach productive compromises.
So with this third round of TIGER grants, DOT is proud to deliver the support these communities need to put their friends and neighbors to work building solutions to their critical transportation challenges.