A big opportunity to improve the region’s infrastructure came and went last week when the federal government opted to turn down $63 million in funding requests for Bay Area projects, including $30 million for Muni- and BART-related undertakings.
Four separate projects in the Bay Area were rejected by the Department of Transportation, which was issuing discretionary funding grants under its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. A highly competitive annual grant source started in 2009, it has awarded $86.2 million for Bay Area transportation improvements in past years.
In 2009, San Francisco received $46 million for the project to rebuild Doyle Drive, the aging southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. The City has not received any money from the TIGER grant program since then. In the past two years, the Bay Area has applied for $123 million in grant requests and received just $10 million.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, submitted a funding request of $15 million for transit improvements at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus, an area expected to see huge population growth in the next decade.
The Mission Bay funding allocation was supposed to go toward infrastructure and streetscape upgrades aimed at improving accessibility for multiple modes of transit in the area.
For the third straight year, BART’s $15 million application for infrastructure improvements at its Hayward maintenance facility was ignored by the federal government. Spokesman Jim Allison said the grant rejection will reduce planned work by 10 percent in the first year of the project, which is expected to start in 2013.
“BART obviously felt that the Hayward Maintenance Complex was worthy of a TIGER grant or it wouldn’t have applied for the funds,” said Allison. “However, we recognize that there is a healthy competition between many worthy projects for the limited number of grant funds available.”
An $18 million application for a bike pathway in the North Bay and a $15 million submission for transit upgrades in Union City also were turned down by the federal government.
Lori Irving, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, said the overwhelming amount of applications for the TIGER grants forced the department to make many difficult decisions to pass up on deserving projects across the nation.
Scrambling for cash
Applications for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program are highly competitive.
$14B Amount of federal TIGER funds requested by local agencies in the U.S.
$511M Amount of funds allocated to U.S. agencies
$63M Amount requested for Bay Area projects this year
$0 Amount of TIGER funds awarded for Bay Area projects this year
Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission