During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to support "the continuation of the Small Community Air Service Development Program that helps small and mid-sized communities attract new air service, ... improve the effectiveness of these programs and increase the availability of rail transportation options for residents of rural communities."
On Oct. 25, 2010, the Transportation Department selected 19 communities in 19 states to receive $7 million in grants under the Small Community Air Service Development Program. Of that amount, $6 million was included in the Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act for fiscal year 2010, with the remainder funded through reallocations from other department funds.
The communities receiving the grants are: Dothan, Ala.; Yuma, Ariz.; Gainesville, Fla.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Sioux City, Iowa; Manhattan, Kan.; Bangor, Maine; Lansing, Mich.; Kearney, Neb.; Keene, N.H.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Kinston, N.C.; Eugene, Ore.; Provo, Utah; Charlottesville, Va.; Mosinee, Wis; and Parkersburg, W.Va. An additional grant was made to the Missouri Department of Transportation for three communities -- Columbia, Joplin and Waynesville.
As for the rail portion of the promise, the Transportation Department has awarded Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (or TIGER) grants that would assist rural rail projects. TIGER grants, which were created by the economic stimulus bill, are designed to boost "multimodal" projects -- those that involve more than one type of transportation -- with a preference for those located in economically distressed areas.
The Normal Multimodal Transportation Center in Normal, Ill., received $47.4 million in TIGER funding. The center offers links to rail, intercity bus, local transit, cars, shuttles, taxis and bicycle and pedestrian paths. Other TIGER projects include Waterloo Station Improvements in Waterloo, Ind., the Lexington Multimodal Transportation Station in Lexington, N.C., and the Moline Multimodal Station in Moline, Ill.
The Transportation Department has carried out both the air and rail parts of this promise. We rate it a Promise Kept.