Infrastructure 2010: Investment Imperative
This year’s infrastructure report challenges the United States to treat infrastructure like the investment that it is, by developing a targeted, long-term, and integrated infrastructure strategy. The report puts the spotlight on water infrastructure, examining aging pipes, population pressures, and management challenges across 14 metropolitan areas. Infrastructure 2010 will be released at ULI’s Spring Council Forum on April 14, 2010.
Congress to Extend Surface Transportation Program
A bill winding its way through Congress would extend the authorization of the existing federal surface transportation program through the end of 2010 and rescue the Highway Trust Fund with an infusion from general revenues. Still unresolved: the future shape of the federal surface transportation program, and how to pay for the increased spending levels nearly everyone agrees are needed.
Transportation Budget Signals
The administration’s FY 2011 budget request to Congress for USDOT includes a new Livable Communities Program, which would be funded at $527 million and administered by a new Office of Livable Communities; the program would leverage additional funding from HUD and EPA. The administration also requested $4 billion for a new National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund to be administered within USDOT. The Fund would provide grants and loans for projects that provide a “significant economic benefit to the nation or a region.”
Competitive Transportation Grant Awards
The USDOT recently announced winners for the first round of high-speed rail and TIGER funds, two competitive grant programs created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These programs signal a welcome emphasis on competitive, merit-based funding that rewards integrated metropolitan planning.
TIGER Grants In late February, USDOT announced awards under the $1.5 billion Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The agency selected 51 innovative transportation projects from among the 1,400 applications received, choosing projects based on their ability to create jobs, enhance community livability, improve environmental outcomes, and leverage public and private partnerships and resources. Awardees include $83 million for Moynihan Station in New York City; $100 million to address freight congestion in Chicago; streetcars in Dallas, Tucson, and New Orleans; and more. $600 million is available in FY 2010 for the TIGER program.
High-Speed Rail $8 billion in high-speed rail grants were announced in late January, with large chunks of the funding going for the development of new high-speed rail corridors in Florida (which received $1.25 billion) and California (which received $2.25 billion). Applicants submitted $55 billion in proposals. The FY 2010 budget includes an additional $2.5 billion for high-speed rail, with $1 billion requested in FY 2011. ULI CEO Patrick Phillips praised the awards, noting that the Institute has long called for increased investment in high-speed and passenger rail systems.