Updated 4:49 p.m. ET, 2/26/2014
(CNN) – On a visit to St. Paul, Minnesota Wednesday President Barack Obama launched his administration's latest grant-funding competition this time aimed at spurring investment in new infrastructure projects.
Framing the announcement as part of his 2014 "year of action," the President told a crowd gathered in the city's new Union Depot that infrastructure projects are a direct path to jobs.
"Any opportunity agenda begins with creating more good jobs and one of the best, fastest ways to create good jobs is by rebuilding America's infrastructure," Obama said. "Our roads, our bridges, our rails, our ports, our airports, our schools, our power grids. We've got a lot of work to do out there and we got to put folks to work."
Obama pointed to the building he was standing in as a prime example. Union Depot was rehabilitated with the help of federal TIGER grants, and Obama called on cities and states to apply for $600 million in newly available TIGER funding before an April 28 deadline.
This new round of grants will be targeted at transportation projects that effect job creation, economic competitiveness and economic development. For the first time since 2010, applications can also include proposals to fund planning grants.
Originally created as part of the 2009 Recovery Act and subsequently reauthorized as part of the omnibus spending bill signed into law earlier this year, according to the White House the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program has funded $3.5 billion worth of projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico since its creation.
Obama also urged Congress to take up his forthcoming transportation reauthorization proposal worth more than $300 billion, including $150 billion in new revenue achieved by reforming the nation's corporate tax structure.
"Congress has an important deadline coming up," the President said. "If Congress doesn't finish a transportation bill by the end of the summer we could see construction projects stop in their tracks. Machines sitting idle. Workers off the job. So next week I'm going to send Congress a budget that funds rebuilding our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way.
According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, the President's proposal will include "closing unfair tax loopholes, lowering tax rates, and making the system more fair."
This would create a one-time source of revenue that would then be dedicated to funding surface transportation projects.
A statement issued by Kathleen Bower of AAA, an association of motor clubs formerly known as the American Automotive Association, offered a mixed reaction to the President's remarks. Bower lauded the President for "finally focusing on the funding of our nation's transportation system" but criticized his plan to use one-time funding to address the problems, and instead called for "immediate action" to secure long-term funding through new tax revenue.
"AAA agrees with a large group of diverse transportation stakeholders that a gas tax increase is the most viable, responsible and effective near-term solution to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent," said Bower, AAA vice president for public affairs.
CNN's Chloe Sommers contributed to this report.