October 26, 2015

Tsongas, Warren, Markey announce major $13.4 million Federal TIGER grant awarded to the City of Lowell

LOWELL, MA - Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey today announced that the City of Lowell was awarded a $13.4 million TIGER grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help repair and take ownership of the 8 canal bridges throughout the City. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (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 for the United States.

The TIGER Grant award program is extremely competitive and sees overwhelming demand every year. Applications for the most recent round of grants totaled nearly $10 billion for more than 625 projects, far exceeding the $500 million set aside for the program.

This highly coveted TIGER grant funding would enable 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. Current owners have allowed the bridges 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. Three of these 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 the visitor experience to the Lowell National Historical Park, compromising decades of Federal collaboration and investment in the revitalization of Lowell.

Congresswoman Tsongas and Senators Warren and Markey strongly supported the City's grant application, weighing in personally with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to ensure he understood the value of this project to the City and to the Commonwealth. This is the first time the City of Lowell has received a TIGER grant award.

"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," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "This significant grant award will allow the City to better meet the 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 help make the case to Transportation Secretary Foxx and look forward to seeing this transformative project continue the city's remarkable renaissance."

"This major grant is terrific news for Lowell," Senator Warren said. "Fixing the canal bridges will increase safety and improve transportation options for families, students and businesses, boosting the local economy and revitalizing the downtown. The TIGER Grant program is a great example of how the federal government can be a strong partner for our state, cities, and towns, and I'm glad to have fought for federal funding for this important infrastructure project."

"The repair of the canal bridges in Lowell restores access to campus and the downtown and represents an important bridge for the community to greater economic development and opportunity," said Senator Markey. "I commend the Department of Transportation for awarding this important grant to Lowell and look forward to soon travelling over these rehabilitated bridges and crossing campus to access a vibrant downtown."

"This is exciting news," said City Manager Kevin Murphy. "The grant is probably the largest award the City of Lowell has received in the past ten years. 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. It just makes for a better city."

"The importance of this project for the City of Lowell and for the continued growth of UMass Lowell cannot be overstated," said University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan. "The project will improve public safety, public health and the quality of life of the UMass Lowell community and those who work and live in the City of Lowell. I am proud to have been involved in supporting the application as Chancellor of UMass Lowell and to now be able to commit the support of the university system to its successful implementation. This would not have been possible without the critical backing of Congresswoman Tsongas and Senators Warren and Markey, who serve our state so well."

"The University of Massachusetts Lowell is proud to have been an active partner with the City of Lowell on the application and we are thrilled with the result," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. "This project will be transformative for the city and the university. The state of the canal bridges is the single largest deterrent to a safe and sustainable transportation system for the university and the city. It will facilitate the continued growth of the university and support the community's shared vision of Lowell as a ‘college town.' We have made significant commitments to its success, both financially and in the form of staff support and expertise. We thank Congresswoman Tsongas for her strong support of the application and unwavering advocacy both for the City of Lowell and the university. We also thank Senators Warren and Markey for their leadership and advocacy for Lowell and the Commonwealth."