USDOT Moves Forward on ‘Multi-Modal’ Vision
Yesterday, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood, announced the 51 projects—a mix of highways to boulevards projects, complete streets initiatives, streetcars and light-rail projects, and innovative highway funding—that will receive federal funding from the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program, which was funded by $1.5 billion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). According to Sec. LaHood, awards went to “projects that create jobs, stimulate economic activity, and help develop livable communities.”
USDOT continues to affirm its commitment to fund innovative transportation projects that focus on multi-modal transport, reducing greenhouse gases and creating livable communities; simultaneously addressing economic, environmental and travel issues.
In particular, the Chicago region is poised to benefit greatly from a $100 million investment into the CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program.
CREATE’s package of 78 projects, designed by the City of Chicago, IDOT, Metra, AMTRAK and the freight railroads serving Chicago, aim to unsnarl the bottlenecks in the region’s railroad system—a major U.S. hub that handles nearly 1300 freight and passenger trains every day. Rail moves people and freight through the region with the least negative environmental impact, and hundreds of thousands of Chicago area jobs depend directly or indirectly on rail transportation.
The south suburban communities—Blue Island, Harvey, Dixmoor, Dolton, Riverdale—that CNT has been working with to redevelop by building homes, retail and office businesses around their rail assets will see the benefits of additional capacity and improved connections of the region’s rail traffic. These include communities that are building homes, stores and offices around their train stations in transit oriented development (TOD), and communities revitalizing industrial parks with the added value of good access to freight rail in cargo oriented development (COD).
The types of projects through the TIGER program show that the USDOT has recognized the return from funding transit. CNT’s second analysis of the jobs created from the ARRA shows that investments in public transportation projects have created almost twice as many jobs per dollar as investments in highways–and the advantage is growing. Through these TIGER grants, we are witnessing a Department of Transportation that not only considers how to move people and goods around, but how to create jobs, stimulate economic development, reduce environmental impact—with its sights set on innovation. This gives added meaning to ‘multi-modal’!
CNT is also pleased that Tucson, Arizona is receiving TIGER funding for a modern streetcar line that will connect the city’s major activity centers, a step toward lowering residents’ household transportation costs. Our 2009 report on the “Housing + Transportation Affordability in the Tucson Metro Area” provided data the City of Tuscon and Pima County are utilizing to help plan future transit development and make the case for the economic benefits it would generate.