Washington, D.C., October 20, 2010 – The Department of Transportation today revealed  its list of 73 Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II grant recipients. While much of the $600 million goes to standard surface transportation infrastructure development and enhancement, projects that harm American mobility also received a significant portion of the funding.
Analysts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute  blasted these allocations, arguing that they fail to address fundamental problems with the current transportation system and in fact make them worse.
“Advocates of so-called Smart Growth should be overjoyed,” stated Marc Scribner , Land-use and Transportation Policy Analyst in CEI’s Center for Economic Freedom. “But those concerned with tackling the real issues facing America’s surface transportation system—namely congestion—should be outraged. Not only do these “livability” projects fail to address congestion, they will make it significantly worse.”
Scribner points to data from the Census Bureau’s recently released 2009 American Community Survey  that show transit commuting rates declining and single-occupancy auto commuting rates increasing during the economic downturn. “Pedestrian and transit-user access is certainly important. However, outside of a few dense coastal cities, these modes of commuting represent a small percentage of overall transportation system use,” he said.
Peoria, Illinois, received funding to narrow streets. New Haven, Connecticut, was granted $16 million to convert a portion of a limited-access highway to an urban boulevard. And more than 10 percent of total funding went to two proposed streetcar systems in Atlanta and Salt Lake City. “All of these projects seek to make driving more difficult or divert resources to wasteful transit projects. The only real effect they will have is increasing the time drivers spend in traffic. They not only negatively impact drivers and goods delivery, but the environment as well by increasing congestion and thus auto emissions,” noted Scribner.
“At a time when states and municipalities are looking for more investment bang for the buck, dolling out federal grants to these anti-mobility transportation projects is beyond irresponsible.”