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Tiger Grant Application Resources

Overview

Webinars and Slide Presentations

How to Compete for TIGER Seminar (July 18th)

"Talking Freight" (July 27th)

TIGER and Rural America (August 3rd)

Project Readiness/NEPA (August 22th)

TIGER TIFIA Payments (August 24th)

MARAD Port Outreach (August 30th)

Lessons for Tribal Applicants (September 16th)

Benefit-Cost Analysis Assistance

Every project is different, and no two TIGER applications (or their respective BCAs) are alike. The examples in this supplement are not intended to serve as standard or recommended templates. They are provided for demonstrative purposes only, so that Applicants may see a range of the possibilities with BCA submissions by successful Applicants across different project types and geographies.

Benefit-Cost Analysis Practitioner's Workshop (2010)

Benefit Cost Analysis (August 17th)

TIGER and Rural America, Part 2 BCA Guidance (August 31st)

Tribal BCA Examples Available Online

  • US-18 South Dakota (SD)
  • US-101 Smith River Safety Corridor (CA)
  • Snake Road Segment 3 Improvement Project (FL)
  • 17-Mile Road (WY)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do/where can I access the application?

Final applications must be submitted through Grants.gov on or before June 3, 2013, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  The Grants.gov “Apply” function will open on April 29, 2013, allowing applicants to submit final applications.

What if I am having technical issues with grants.gov?

Please refer to the following links for technical issues with grants.gov:

How do I determine if my project qualifies as being rural?

The TIGER Grant Program defines “rural area” as any area not in an Urbanized Area, as the term is defined by the Census Bureau. DOT considers a project to be in a rural area if all or a material portion of a project is located in a rural area.   Consult this page for Census maps of Urbanized Areas to determine if the project is located in urban or rural areas: 

What are the objectives of the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program?

The FY 2013 Appropriations Act appropriated $474 million, available through September 30, 2014, for National Infrastructure Investments. This appropriation is similar, but not identical to the appropriation for the “TIGER” program authorized and implemented pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (The Recovery Act). Because of the similarity in program structure, DOT will continue to refer to the program as ‘‘TIGER Discretionary Grants.’’ As with previous rounds of TIGER, funds for the FY 2013 TIGER program are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area or a region.

When are pre-applications due?

Unlike previous rounds, applicants do not need to submit a pre-application.

When are applications due?

The criteria for the TIGER Discretionary Grant program are announced in the notice of funding availability in the Federal Register.  Final applications must be submitted through Grants.gov by June 3, 2013, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  The Grants.gov “Apply” function will open on April 29, 2013, allowing applicants to submit final applications.

Who can receive funds under the National Investments Discretionary Grant?

"Eligible Applicants” for TIGER Discretionary Grants are State, local, and tribal governments, including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), other political subdivisions of State or local governments, and multi-State or multi-jurisdictional groups applying through a single lead applicant (for multi-jurisdictional groups, each member of the group, including the lead applicant, must be an otherwise eligible applicant as described in this paragraph).

What types of projects are eligible for TIGER Discretionary Grant funding?

Projects that are eligible for TIGER Discretionary Grants under:

  • highway or bridge projects eligible under title 23, United States Code;
  • public transportation projects eligible under chapter 53 of title 49, United States Code;
  • freight rail projects;
  • high speed and intercity passenger rail projects; and
  • port infrastructure investments.

Federal wage rate requirements included in subchapter IV of chapter 31 of title 40, United States Code, apply to all projects receiving funds.

What criteria will be used to evaluate applications for TIGER Discretionary Grants?

The TIGER Discretionary Grants Final Notice of Funding Availability outlines the selection criteria in detail. Grants will be awarded based on two categories of selection criteria, “Primary Selection Criteria” and “Secondary Selection Criteria.”

Primary Selection Criteria

Long-Outcomes
 
The Department will give priority to projects that have a significant impact on desirable long-term outcomes for the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. The following:
  • State of Good Repair: Improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, with particular emphasis on projects that minimize life-cycle costs.
  • Economic Competitiveness: Contributing to the economic competitiveness of the United States over the medium- to long-term.
  • Livability: Fostering livable communities through place-based policies and investments that increase transportation choices and access to transportation services for people in communities across the United States.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Improving energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and benefitting the environment.
  • Safety: Improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and systems.
Job Creation and Economic Stimulus
 
While the TIGER Discretionary Grant program is not a Recovery Act program, job creation and economic stimulus remain a top priority of this Administration; therefore, DOT will give priority to projects that are expected to quickly create and preserve jobs and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity, particularly jobs and activity that benefit economically distressed areas.

Secondary Selection Criteria:

  • Innovation: DOT will give priority to projects that use innovative strategies to pursue the long-term outcomes outlined above.
  • Partnership: DOT will give priority to projects that demonstrate strong collaboration among a broad range of participants and/or integration of transportation with other public service efforts.

The Department will give more weight to the Long-Term Outcomes and Jobs Creation & Economic Stimulus criteria than to the Innovation and Partnership criteria. Projects that are unable to demonstrate a likelihood of significant long-term benefits in any of the five long-term outcomes will not proceed in the evaluation process. For the Jobs Creation & Economic Stimulus criterion, a project that is not ready to proceed quickly is less likely to be successful.

The notice published in the Federal Register provides additional guidance on how the Department will apply the selection criteria.

Is there a maximum and/or minimum grant size for TIGER Discretionary Grants?
 
The FY 2013 Appropriations Act specifies that TIGER Discretionary Grants may be not less than $10 million (except in rural areas) and not greater than $200 million. Pursuant to the FY 2013 Appropriations Act, no more than 25 percent of the funds made available for TIGER Discretionary Grants (or $118.75 million) may be awarded to projects in a single State.

Are there any other statutory requirements for the distribution of TIGER Discretionary Grants?

FY 2013 Appropriations Act specifies the following additional requirements:

  • The FY 2013 Appropriations Act directs that not less than $120 million of the funds provided for projects in rural areas.
  • TIGER Discretionary Grants is to be used for projects located in rural areas. TIGER Discretionary Grants may be used for up to 80 percent of the costs of a project, but priority must be given to projects for which Federal funding is required to complete an overall financing package and projects can increase their competitiveness by demonstrating significant non-Federal contributions. DOT may increase the Federal share above 80 percent only for projects located in rural areas, in which case DOT may fund up to 100 percent of the costs of a project. Therefore, for projects located in urban areas, based on the statutory requirements of at least 20 percent non-Federal cost share and a minimum grant size of $10 million, the minimum total project size for an eligible project is $12.5 million (where the minimum $10 million TIGER Discretionary Grant request represents 80 percent of the total project cost). The minimum total project size for an eligible project in a rural area is $1million (where the entire project cost is funded with a TIGER Discretionary Grant). However, the statutory requirement to give priority to projects that use Federal funds to complete an overall financing package applies to project located in rural areas as well, and projects located in rural areas can increase their competitiveness for purposes of the TIGER program by demonstrating significant non-Federal financial contributions.

Questions Regarding NEPA

What deadlines are associated with NEPA decisions under TIGER?
 
An applicant should be able to show that they reasonably expect the NEPA review and other pre-obligation activities, including any other necessary approvals, to be complete no later than June 30, 2014. This ensures that DOT will be able to meet its September 30, 2014 statutory deadline for obligating funds, and that no unexpected delays will put TIGER grant funds at risk of expiring before they can be obligated.

Further discussion of this deadline can be found in Appendix C of the Final Notice of Funding Availability.

When providing completed NEPA documents or drafts, what is the preferred format?
 
As indicated in the Final Notice of Funding Availability, web links in applications are preferred; however, PDFs or Word documents will be accepted through Grants.gov.  Web links keep the size of the application smaller and allow reviewers the ability to perform directed reviews and not have to parse through extensive documents for specific information.
 
What are lead agency implementing procedures and where are they found?
 
The Council of Environmental Quality regulations require each Federal agency to develop implementing procedures that explain how they will apply NEPA to their individual programs. At DOT, each Operating Administration has developed implementing procedures specific to their program. These implementing procedures can be found at on the NEPA Resources Page.
 
Are NEPA decision documents issued by other Federal agencies sufficient for TIGER?

All projects selected under TIGER must have completed a NEPA analysis of the transportation elements of the project and have a decision document based on that analysis.  If an applicant has previously engaged another Federal agency and completed an EA or EIS and received a FONSI or ROD from that Federal agency, DOT will review the documents to determine whether the analysis considered the transportation elements requesting funding under TIGER.  If the documents sufficiently considered the transportation elements, then the DOT lead agency may be able to adopt the EA or EIS to satisfy the required analysis under NEPA.

There have been frequent mentions of “independent utility” and “segmentation” relating to projects. What do those terms mean?
 

Segmentation and independent utility are two important concepts for TIGER applicants, especially for those with large, complex projects with multiple components.  A NEPA review must consider the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of a proposed action.  The requirement to consider cumulative impacts ensures that agencies do not consider connected projects as “several smaller actions, each of [which] might have an insignificant environmental impact when considered in isolation, but that taken as a whole have a substantial impact.” (Northwest Resource Info. Ct., Inc. v. National Marine Fisheries Serv., 56 F.3d 1060, 1068 (9th Cir. 1995).  This process of breaking out smaller actions of a larger, comprehensive project is referred to as segmentation.  Improper segmentation may be avoided if each component of a larger project can be demonstrated to have independent utility.  A project (or any of its components) has independent utility if it is usable and a reasonable expenditure even if no additional transportation improvements in the area are made, and it doesn’t restrict consideration of alternatives for other reasonably foreseeable transportation improvements. The TIGER Notice of Funding Availability defines a project component as having independent utility “if the component itself could qualify as an Eligible Project and would provide benefits that satisfy the selection criteria specified in [the] notice.”

Independent utility and segmentation are important concepts to understand in the context of TIGER.  Because of the program’s popularity, DOT receives many more compelling applications than can be funded, and therefore, few projects are selected and funded at 100% of their requested levels.  To make applications more competitive, complex projects with multiple components are encouraged to describe the comprehensive project as well as identifying smaller pieces of the larger overall project.  When describing these components, each must have independent utility and satisfy the selection criteria of the TIGER program.  When conducting the benefit-cost analysis (BCA), the Applicant should estimate and present the benefits and costs for each component, itemizing them within the comprehensive project BCA.

In general, when considering large, complex projects and the possibility of carving out smaller components, applicants should view smaller components through the same lens as they viewed the overall project, assess each component’s independent utility and the analysis required under NEPA.  Applicants should also describe the costs and benefits associated with the smaller piece in the economic analysis of the project.

If an applicant has not yet started NEPA, what steps should they take to initiate the NEPA process? What should an applicant include in their application package to USDOT to provide assurance that the NEPA process can be completed by the June 30, 2014 deadline?

If NEPA has not yet been initiated, the most important steps an applicant can take include contacting affected resource agencies to initiate consultation, and developing a preliminary assessment of the impacts associated with the proposed project.  Federal and state agencies that have regulatory authority over such resources as wetlands, historic properties, endangered species, surface waters, and others should be contacted and preliminary discussions about the project should be held.  Any coordination should be summarized and included in the TIGER application along with any correspondence between the applicant and interested agencies. These implementing procedures can be found at on the NEPA Resources Page.

The applicant should also review the implementing procedures of the appropriate mode to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the mode for the preparation of NEPA documents.

Will an applicant be penalized if they have not yet initiated NEPA?
 
Although applicants are not required to have completed NEPA at the time of their submission, those projects that have already completed the review process will be viewed more favorably under the project readiness criterion.

If the NEPA process has not yet been initiated, an applicant must be able to demonstrate their reasonable expectation that it will be completed by June 30, 2014.  An applicant should also provide a compelling justification for why the NEPA process has not yet begun, such as the applicant’s expectation of not receiving Federal funding outside of the TIGER Discretionary Grant funding.

Can TIGER funds be used to fund NEPA completion?

In limited circumstances, TIGER funds may be used to fund completion of NEPA or other planning and engineering efforts.  If NEPA has not yet been initiated or completed and applicants are requesting funding for NEPA completion as part of their application, they should submit a compelling justification for why they have not yet initiated NEPA and why funds for completion are required.  Such applications should describe in their budget how costs to complete NEPA factor into the overall costs to complete construction of the project and should include a reasonable schedule for completing NEPA.

How does DOT determine the lead agency and the NEPA class of action?
 
Many lead agency determinations are fairly straightforward.  If it is a highway project, FHWA is the lead agency, Transit – FTA, etc.  However, there are circumstances that may require that the grant be administered by a different Operating Administration.  Causes for such determinations can be based on such things as available resources within the mode or multiple project components that fall under multiple modal jurisdictions.  Class of action decisions are ultimately made by whichever mode administers the grant.

If NEPA has not yet been initiated at the time of selection, the mode charged with administering the grant will be the lead agency, and they will make the final determination on the NEPA class of action. Such determinations are made after a comprehensive review of the proposed project to determine if it qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion or if impacts are uncertain or likely.

If the project is selected and NEPA has been initiated and/or completed, whichever mode was the lead agency in the NEPA determination will likely be assigned administrative duties.

In the case of multi-modal projects, if NEPA has been completed on components of the proposal, the remaining components will still need to be analyzed by the Operating Administration with experience and expertise of those components.

Are state-level environmental reviews or “mini-NEPAs” sufficient – and if not, will they facilitate a quicker NEPA review?
 
State-level environmental reviews are not sufficient substitutes for a NEPA review, nor can they change the timeline and statutory review periods associated with the NEPA process.  However, completion of a state environmental review may facilitate the NEPA review, as much of the information required will be substantively similar.  Therefore a state-level environmental review may reduce the amount of time required to collect relevant information, but will not accelerate the NEPA review schedule.
 
What agencies should be contacted to illustrate appropriate coordination for NEPA?
 
To make an informed determination on project readiness and the likely ability of the applicant to complete NEPA by the June 30, 2013 deadline, applicants should provide evidence of coordination with all agencies with regulatory authority over resources potentially impacted by the proposed project.  Below is a partial list:
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Advisory Council on Historic Properties
  • United States Coast Guard

In addition to the Federal agencies listed above, there are frequently state-level equivalents that should also be contacted.

Can a NEPA decision expire?
 
Technically speaking, NEPA decisions do not expire.  However, if significant time has passed, agencies are required to take a fresh look at the document, the proposed action, and the affected environment to ensure that the information contained in the analysis and the resulting decision document is still current. The Operating Administration may then prepare a reevaluation or a Supplemental EA or EIS depending on its findings.
 
TIGER projects must be on the STIP/TIP; however, the STIP/TIP requires fiscal constraint. How does a project that has had difficulty being funded and therefore has not been placed on the STIP/TIP compete for TIGER funding?
 
The TIGER program presents an opportunity to fund projects that may not have previously had an easily identifiable funding stream, as well as provide the last piece of a funding package to bring a project to construction.  DOT recognizes that because of this, some applications will not be on the TIP/STIP at the time of application.  In those situations, it is recommended that the applicant provide assurances that the project, if selected for funding under TIGER, could be included in the TIP/STIP.  An example would be a letter of support from the MPO, the State DOT, or other planning organization. 
Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2013