Remember the TIGER grants? If you're a local government wonk, you do.
This federal money — from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — was the linchpin of Mayor Dave Bieter's bid to finance a Downtown Boise streetcar circular. Boise applied for a share of the 2010 federal grant, but when the city didn't make the cut, the streetcar project fizzled.
Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced nearly $500 million in grants, and Lewiston was the only city to make the list this year.
The port of Lewiston will get $1.3 million to put toward a $2.9 million project to extend its dock from 120 feet to 150 feet, in order to streamline barge loading efforts.
From the DOT's report announcing the grants: "This project will increase the efficiency and productivity of port operations, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance safety for dock workers. One ton of cargo can travel 576 miles per gallon of fuel by barge, making barges the most fuel efficient mode of transportation. Reducing shipping costs and increasing exporter profitability will benefit the national economy and further the president’s initiative to double exports."
Words that won't sit well with environmentalists who were hoping for more support from the Obama administration. Environmental groups, who argue for breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring the river to a natural state, also argue that shipping from ports such as Lewiston can be replaced through rail or truck transport.