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Earlier this year the federal Department of Transportation announced it would have, via the stimulus bill, $1.5 billion in discretionary funding, the so-called TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants available for transportation projects outside the scope of the usual transportation funding process. Trouble is, by the September 15 deadline the DOT has received almost $37 billion in requests from states and other agencies. DOT chief Ray LaHood called the result “An outpouring of creative and innovative transportation project proposals.”
Perhaps a more useful description of $37 billion worth of need chasing $1.5 billion in resources is that this is a country that’s been starving its infrastructure funding for decades. It’s like having 37 hungry people sitting in your restaurant and you’ve only got enough food for one adult and maybe a child.