The excitement about DOT's third round of TIGER funding continues this week in communities throughout the country. From Orangeburg to Oregon, folks are thrilled to know that--thanks to these federal grants--their friends and neighbors will soon be able to get back to work building solutions to local transportation problems.
In Orangeburg County, SC, $12.1 million announced by Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez will help pay for an upgrade of the U.S. Highway 301-Interstate 95 interchange in Santee. But this isn't just any interchange. As Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright said, "This will give us an opportunity here to keep pursuing the Global Logistics Triangle."
Strategically situated halfway between Columbia and Charleston, Orangeburg County offers easy access to I-95, South Carolina's capital, and the Port of Charleston. In addition to the new interchange, the project also extend US 301 from the new interchange to a planned 1,300 acre intermodal freight hub and distribution center.
"It allows us to create a linkage between our Port of Charleston as well as Orangeburg County via road and rail," says Gregg Robinson of the Orangeburg County Development Commission. "It's about catching that activity, especially with the Panamax ships coming into Charleston."
Said Administrator Mendez, "Looking at the future benefits to the county in terms of jobs and economic development we thought it fit right in with the concept of why we have TIGER."
Across the country, DOT Assistant Secretary for Policy Polly Trottenberg helped Multnomah County, OR, celebrate the $17.7 million TIGER grant awarded to the Sellwood Bridge Project.
The new crossing is the kind of smart planning TIGER was meant to reward. The bridge design features wider and safer traffic lanes, better geological stability, bike lanes in each direction, and a friendly, accessible, and safe sidewalk. As Oregon DOT Regional Director Jason Tell said, "It's a symbol of seeing the connection between investing in our transportation system and what it can do for our communities."
Said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen:
"We live in a time of stalemate, where critics say it's impossible to get things done. But this project is a clear example that when we work together in partnership, as a county, as a city as a state, and as a federal government, we can make things happen."
I couldn't agree more. The success of DOT's TIGER program tells us that this country can still get things done. Because they understood that we can't wait, the states, counties, and municipal agencies that were awarded grants in this third round of TIGER set aside differences, put together creative partnerships, and worked toward common interests.
When they return to work in 2012, I hope Congress will follow that example.