Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Baton Rouge eyes TIGER grant for streetcar

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Louisiana's state capital is seeking $2 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding to advance plans for a 3.0-mile streetcar line linking downtown Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University (LSU).

Baton Rouge officials are hopeful the application will be honored, but acknowledge that competition for TIGER funding is severe. Fiscal year 2015 TIGER funding is estimated to be about $600 million.

"Less than 5% of applications receive money, but we're hopeful because this is a very strong application," city engineer Mike Bruce said to local media.

The streetcar is part of a larger plan for the city and East Baton Rouge parish (county), dubbed FuturEBR, being developed by Portland, Ore.-based consultant John Fregonese.

Bruce noted that Baton Rouge would not rely on federal funding alone to aid the streetcar project, estimated to cost $100 million. "There are numerous other funding sources that we will pursue for planning and construction," he said.

Baton Rouge officials say more than 3,700 housing units along the streetcar route, including residential units at LSU, are either under construction or on the drawing board. More than 2 million square feet of commercial and office space also is planned, officials say.

Streetcars last operated in Baton Rouge in April 1936.