Area officials are hoping a $20 million federal grant application will assist in funding a new Highway 47 bridge at Washington.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) plans to apply for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant to help pay for the replacement of the bridge, which is over 70 years old.

At their Tuesday morning meeting, Missouri Highway 47 Bridge Committee members were given a draft of MoDOT’s application letter, which requests $20 million in TIGER grant funds.

Bob Zick, bridge committee chairman, said he was not sure how the grant money, if approved, would be used.

It could be applied toward construction, which is estimated at $57 million, or engineering, which is estimated at $5-6 million, Zick said.

“We might have a good chance (of being awarded the grant),” said Darren Lamb, Washington’s community and economic development director.

Final applications for the TIGER grants must be submitted by March 19. Projects that are awarded these grants must obligate funds by Sept. 30, 2013.

The Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations Act has allocated $500 million for TIGER grants this year.

The grants awarded may be no less than $10 million, except in rural areas, and no greater than $200 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.

Additionally, the act stipulates that no more than 25 percent of the funds available for the grants can be awarded to projects in a single state, the website states.

Projects will be evaluated on criteria such as safety, economic competitiveness, livability, environmental

sustainability, state of repair and short-term job creation.

Projects that are eligible for TIGER grants include certain highway or bridge projects, public transportation projects, freight rail projects, high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects and port infrastructure investments.

Last year, St. Louis was awarded a $20 million TIGER grant for improvements along Interstate 70 near the Gateway Arch grounds.

This is the fourth round of TIGER grants offered.

This year’s appropriation is similar, but not identical to the appropriation for the TIGER program authorized and implemented during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Local Support

Before the application is submitted, MoDOT officials have asked the bridge committee to gather letters of support for the bridge replacement from area entities.

Among the individuals and groups the committee will ask support from are:

Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Russ Carnahan, the transportation committee chairmen in both the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives;

Ed Hillhouse, executive director of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, a representative from the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission;

Trailnet, Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, the mayors in Washington, Union, St. Clair, Marthasville, Augusta, Wright City, Foristell, New Melle and Warrenton;

Washington, Wright City and Marthasville area Chambers of Commerce, Mercy, Patients First, Marthasville fire and ambulance districts, Washington Fire Department, Washington Rural Fire Association;

Franklin and Warren County commissioners, the Washington Regional Airport, Washington School District and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.

MoDOT and local officials are hoping construction of a new bridge can begin in 2019.