The federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program has funded more than $340 million in projects for trails, walking and biking to date—making it a powerful resource for those who want to create multimodal transportation choices in their communities for those who cannot or choose not to drive. Through the leveraging of additional federal, state, local and even private philanthropic sources, the highly competitive program (which also funds highway, freight rail, transit and maritime projects) promotes interplay between all levels of government and the private sector and strikes a good deal for federal transportation investments.
Every year, the fate of TIGER is in the hands of Congress. While the Senate currently supports funding TIGER, the House of Representatives and the president are seeking to eliminate the program entirely. As RTC urges Congress to continue funding TIGER and other important sources of trail funding, we thought this was a good time to review just some of the impact TIGER has had on communities around the country.
Below is a summary of five trail projects built with TIGER. Check them out!
Want to see more trails that have been built with TIGER? View USDOT’s interactive project map.
1Indianapolis Cultural Trail
This 8-mile trail is (literally) at the heart of Indianapolis’ Greenway System. In 2009, the city received a $20.5 million TIGER grant that helped leverage an additional $27.5 million in private funding to complete the trail. The federal Transportation Alternatives program—an important federal funding source—also helped provide $1 million to extend the trail. Today, it connects six cultural districts around the city, features public art installations along the route and links to more than 40 miles of other trails in the city’s Greenway System.
2The Circuit Trails
Philadelphia has received multiple TIGER grants over the course of the program’s eight funding cycles to improve sidewalks, add protected bike lanes and, yes—build trails! In 2009, 10 integral projects to the Circuit Trails—which connects urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods in five counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey—were awarded a $23 million TIGER grant. As a result, the William Penn Foundation was inspired to give $10 million for a new regional, competitive re-grant program for planning, designing and constructing trails. When complete, the Circuit Trails will boast more than 750 miles in the Greater Philadelphia region, and more than 300 miles of trails are already open for business!
What makes TIGER so special?
The program encourages multijurisdictional collaboration, cutting through bureaucratic red tape that would traditionally hold up regional, cross-state projects. It also encourages projects that serve multiple modes of transportation—such as a trail projects that connects to a transit center, or a bridge reconstruction that includes a protected bicycle lane.
3Razorback Regional Greenway
This popular 38-mile greenway in Arkansas snakes its way from Fayetteville to Bella Vista. In 2010, the project received a $15 million TIGER grant, leveraging a matching $15 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation and an additional $855,000 from the state to construct the trail. The trail has spurred economic development along the route and also serves as a transportation corridor for a region whose population is expected to double in the next 15 years. Last year, improvements and additions to the trail were made in Bentonville with the help of a $500,000 federal Transportation Alternatives grant (and $125,000 in local matching funds)—another important source of federal transportation funding.
Check out this cool video of the Razorback.
4Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail serves both recreation and transportation needs in the nation’s capital. Located on either side of the Anacostia River, the trail extends from the downtown Navy Yard waterfront up north to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, joining up with the Anacostia River Trail in Maryland. In 2012, the city received a $10 million TIGER grant to help complete a 4-mile missing link in the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens section of the trail, which opened to the public in 2016. This provided a new, safe walking and biking connection into the city for thousands of people living in the northeast suburbs. Trail users need not whip out a map on this section; the detailed signage points the way forward.
The planned 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine will be built on the site of four inactive railroad corridors, forming a loop around downtown Atlanta, Georgia. In 2013, the BeltLine was awarded an $18 million TIGER grant for a $43 million project to construct 2.5 miles of the southwest portion of the trail, located in a economically disadvantaged neighborhood. Additionally, Atlanta received a $10 million TIGER grant last year for a $22.9 million project to reconstruct Martin Luther King Jr. Drive into a complete street, including connections to the southwest portion of the trail. When complete, the Atlanta Beltline will connect more than 40 neighborhoods, many public parks and public transportation in downtown Atlanta. Of the total mileage, 6.3 miles are currently open to the public in four sections.
Like what you see? Don’t forget to write to your legislators and tell them that trail funding programs, like TIGER, are crucial to building safer transportation options. Tell your member of Congress that trails move America!