The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) this month released a list of projects that will receive a total of $511 million in round three of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. Among the 46 nationwide grant recipients is the Port of New Orleans, which got $16.7 million to help pay for rail yard improvements.
Not on the list of approved TIGER III projects, however, was the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's (RTA) bid to extend its planned Rampart/St. Claude streetcar project from Canal Street to Poland Avenue. The grant would have covered nearly $80 million of the projected $98 million to extend the line.
Last year the RTA received $45 million in the first round of TIGER grants to pay for the new Loyola Avenue streetcar line now under construction. As The Lens reported in September, that earlier award likely made the second one, for the St. Claude extension, something of a long shot.
The Rampart/St. Claude streetcar project already has been cut back significantly from plans first conceived in 2009. When the Rampart/St. Claude streetcar was first proposed, RTA planned to extend rail service to Press Street. Last year, the agency issued $79 million in bonds to pay for that plan, but in November RTA officials scaled back the length of the line to Elysian Fields — a distance of just over 1 mile — citing insufficient funding. — Charles Maldonado