WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) received nearly 1,400 applications from all 50 states, territories, and the District of Columbia vying for a share of $1.5 billion that the department will award for innovative transportation projects that show significant economic and environmental promise for the nation, a region, or metropolitan area.

Congress created the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program to finance significant performance-driven projects and those that involve multiple jurisdictions or modes. The TIGER program focuses on longer-term, strategic infrastructure development along with the Economic Recovery Act’s primary focus on immediate job creation.

“We have received an outpouring of creative and innovative transportation project proposals from across the country and we are excited to get started,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Through the TIGER grants we will begin to seriously address the 21st century transportation challenges of improving our environment, the livability of our communities, enhancing safety while strengthening our economy.”

Of the $57 billion in TIGER grants requested, more than half of the applications are for highway or bridge projects, with the rest of the applications focusing on transit, railroad, port infrastructure, multimodal, or other investments.

DOT designed an evaluation process that will require projects seeking more than $100 million in federal funds to undertake an economic benefit-cost analysis. The required analysis will consider factors such as fuel and travel time savings, carbon emission reductions, and economic and public health benefits. The DOT also will use a cross-modal evaluation process where teams from each of the major modes — highways, transit, rail, maritime, and aviation — will work together evaluating a broad cross-section of projects.

Grants may be awarded to state and local governments, including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations, tribal governments, and multi-state or multi-jurisdictional applicants. Projects selected will be announced as soon as possible, but no later than Feb. 17, 2010. LaHood has committed to announcing all of the projects by January. The TIGER Discretionary Grants program was announced May 15, 2009.

More information about grant applications can be found at www.dot.gov/recovery/docs/tdgappoverview.pdf. A complete list of applications will be posted on the DOT website this week.