October 3, 2016 -- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited Lowell today at the invitation of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and was joined by Senator Edward Markey and others, to see firsthand the impact of significant federal funding awarded to the city last year.
"I thank Congresswoman Tsongas and the Senators for their leadership in supporting critical transportation and infrastructure investments here in Lowell and across the nation," said Secretary Foxx. "This U.S. DOT TIGER grant is doing more than repairing and replacing bridges, it is improving safety, boosting the economy, and helping connect more people to jobs, education, and opportunity."
In October, 2015 the City of Lowell was awarded a $13.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help repair and take ownership of the 8 canal bridges that were hindering transportation and economic development in the downtown core of the city. The TIGER grant program was created by Congress in 2009 and awards the most promising local infrastructure proposals with investments in road, rail, transit, and port projects that advance critical infrastructure goals and economic development for the United States.
During his visit on Monday, Secretary Foxx joined Congresswoman Tsongas, Senator Markey and local, state and business officials in Lowell for a series of events focused on the implementation of the TIGER grant projects.
The group held a roundtable discussion with local stakeholders at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which focused on how the TIGER grant is being put to use and the implications these projects will have on economic development, transportation, public safety and more. The group also toured various bridge construction sites (current and future), made possible by the TIGER grant, as well as other notable transportation and economic development projects.
Secretary Foxx, Congresswoman Tsongas and Senator Markey were joined by University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan; UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney; Lowell City Manager Kevin Murphy; Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Celeste Bernardo; and numerous other city and state officials, local business leaders and stakeholders.
The TIGER Grant award program is extremely competitive and sees overwhelming demand every year. Applications for last year's round of grants totaled nearly $10 billion for more than 625 projects, far exceeding the $500 million set aside for the program.
Congresswoman Tsongas, Senator Markey and Senator Elizabeth Warren strongly supported the City's TIGER grant application, weighing in personally with Secretary Foxx during the process to ensure he understood the value of this project to the City and to the Commonwealth. This was the first TIGER grant award received by the City of Lowell.
Secretary Foxx's visit today was prompted by an invitation from Congresswoman Tsongas.
This highly coveted TIGER grant funding is enabling the City of Lowell to acquire and replace or rehabilitate eight privately-owned bridges that carry vehicles and pedestrians over the City's unique 5.6-mile network of canals. Without rehabilitation, the bridges would continue to deteriorate, threatening economic opportunity, community development, access to education, and public safety in Downtown Lowell, the Acre neighborhood, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the surrounding community and region.
Several of the impacted bridges are currently closed to traffic in at least one direction and many are posted with weight restrictions which prevent school buses, transit buses, fire apparatus, or commercial trucks from crossing them, resulting in significant detours. The state of these bridges also adversely impacts local businesses, economic development opportunities, and the visitor experience to the Lowell National Historical Park.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas said: "Over the last forty years, Lowell has used targeted public investments to spark unparalleled private growth and has served as a model for successful revitalization. But failing infrastructure can compromise decades of federal collaboration and public/private investment in these ongoing efforts. This TIGER grant award will allow the City to better meet the infrastructure and transportation needs of all of its residents by improving the safety of the bridges and reducing congestion and commuting times. The success of this grant application was driven by a partnership of creative community leaders, led by City Manager Kevin Murphy, committed to making Lowell not only a great place to live and work, but also a place where congestion and gridlock will not interfere with its growth and vitality. I was proud to partner with Senators Warren and Markey to help make the case to Secretary Foxx last year. We are grateful that the Secretary took the time to visit Lowell today to see firsthand the significant impact this funding will have on our city. The TIGER grant will support economic growth and development, increase public safety, modernize transportation and continue this city's remarkable renaissance."
U.S. Senator Edward Markey said:"This Department of Transportation TIGER grant provides an important bridge for the community of Lowell to educational improvement, economic development, and employment opportunities. This TIGER grant is a smart investment, because when we invest in our roads, our universities, and our communities, we are investing in the workers and industries that bridge the gap between the impossible and the remarkable. With this grant funding for Lowell, TIGER really stands for 'Totally Invested in Guaranteeing Excellence for Riverhawks'. I thank Congresswoman Tsongas and local officials for their leadership securing this vital infrastructure funding."
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said:"This federal TIGER grant is making a real impact on economic development and safety in Lowell by supporting infrastructure improvements that benefit families, students, and businesses. I was glad to work with the congressional delegation and local officials to help secure this funding, and I look forward to seeing these constriction projects move forward to help revitalize the downtown area."
University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan: "You can't become the city that Lowell aspires to be with crumbling infrastructure. This project is critically important to the future of the city and university, removing an obstacle to economic development, quality of life and public health. I am proud to witness this project coming to fruition and I thank Secretary Foxx, Congresswoman Tsongas and Senators Warren and Markey for their support."
UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney: "UMass Lowell is proud to be a partner on this project, which is transforming the landscape of Lowell and with it, the quality of life in the city," Chancellor Jacquie Moloney said. "These infrastructure improvements facilitate both the university's unprecedented growth and the community's vision of Lowell as a college town. We are grateful to U.S. Rep. Tsongas and Sens. Warren and Markey for their unwavering advocacy of Lowell as a preeminent gateway city in the Commonwealth."
Lowell City Manager Kevin Murphy said: "It was a great honor to have Secretary Foxx as a guest in the city of Lowell today. A Cabinet Secretary making a personal visit to deliver a federal grant speaks volumes of the significance in securing one of the largest Tiger grants awarded. The Secretary's visit was an opportunity to highlight the projects and to show him that Lowell is on the move. As I said before, this was a complete team effort between Congresswoman Tsongas, the University, and the City of Lowell. It's a great example of what you can accomplish when everyone works together."