Job-creating transportation dollars could be allocated more fairly to small- and medium-sized cities because of a bill introduced Tuesday, according to 2nd District Congressman Rick Larsen.
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery for Cities Underfunded Because of Size (TIGER CUBS) Act of 2015 would set aside 20 percent of special transportation infrastructure funding specifically for smaller cities.
“Investing in our roads, bridges and highways in cities of all sizes is one of the best ways to create jobs and keep our economy moving,” Larsen said. “TIGER grants have proven a successful way to get job-creating transportation dollars out to cities with ready projects. But smaller cities often lose out on this opportunity because they do not have the same resources to compete with big cities like Chicago and New York for these grants. TIGER CUBS is designed to help medium-sized cities land the big-time funds they need to repair and build up their roads.”
The reintroduction of TIGER CUBS, which Larsen first introduced in 2013, comes as Congress works on reauthorization of a surface transportation bill, which is set to expire in May 2015. Larsen will work to include TIGER CUBS in that legislation.
Congress established the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
About a quarter of TIGER funding has been set aside for rural communities, with the bulk of the remainder going to large cities and statewide projects. Larsen’s TIGER CUBS Act would reauthorize the TIGER program and set aside 20 percent of the funding for cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 people.
Cities from across Northwest Washington support Larsen’s legislation, including Mountlake Terrace.
“The City of Mountlake Terrace supports efforts to provide more funding support to smaller and medium sized cities,” said Mayor Jerry Smith. “Congressman Larsen understands the limits that local municipalities have when it comes to making the critical transportation and economic development investments that we all support. We applaud Congressman Larsen for his legislation that would provide a distinct competitive program for cities like ours. I urge Congress to prioritize this bill and create new funding opportunities for small and medium sized cities.”
Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC) also supports Larsen’s TIGER CUBS bill.
“The Snohomish County region has an estimated $11 billion in transportation funding needs, including a prioritized list of 23 projects totaling $1.055 billion that have been shown to provide the best economic return-on-investment for the region and Washington State. Many of these needs could be met by the TIGER CUBS Act and would assist nine cities in Snohomish County that would be eligible for the grant program,” EASC President and CEO Troy McClelland wrote in a letter of support. “Vital transportation investments in this region provided by TIGER CUBS grants make sense not only for the state, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.”
Larsen’s TIGER CUBS bill is part of his larger transportation agenda for the coming year.
“In Washington state, transportation means jobs. Every $1 billion we invest in projects to improve our highways and roads creates more than 13,000 jobs in our communities. That is why I will continue leading efforts this year to strengthen our region’s transportation network.
“As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will be pushing hard for sustainable ways to fund our roads, bridges, highways and transit systems, as well as strong investments in our ferries. And I am working to make sure trails are included in federal transportation funding opportunities, because walkers and bikers should be part of the transportation conversation.
“I will also continuing pushing forward with aviation issues this year. The Pacific Northwest is the aerospace capital of the world, and I will be keeping my position as Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee to support the growth and safety of air travel that will bring jobs to our communities,” Larsen said.
The following cities in Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom and Island counties would be eligible for the CUBS set-aside.
- Lake Stevens
- Mill Creek
- Mountlake Terrace
- Oak Harbor
- Mount Vernon