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DOT Promotes Project Funding Sources

Monday, March 14, 2016

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has made known two potential sources of funding for infrastructure projects across the country.

States and cities are encouraged to apply for credit assistance through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (TIFIA) program, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Friday (March 11).

Additionally, approximately $2 billion in previously unused earmarks is available to be repurposed into current infrastructure projects, Foxx said in a statement Tuesday (March 8).

Federal Credit Assistance

The TIFIA program was developed to provide federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees and standby lines of credit to finance surface transportation projects of national and regional significance.

Birmingham Bridge Repaint
Technology Publishing Co.

Federal credit and loan assistance is available for bridge, highway, tunnel, passenger and freight rail, public transit, and intermodal freight facility projects through the TIFIA program.

Funded through the recently enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, $1.435 billion in capital will be available through the duration of the FAST Act’s five-year term.

Projects eligible for credit assistance under the program include bridges, highways, tunnels, passenger and freight rail, public transit, and intermodal freight facilities.

Additionally, the DOT notes, the FAST Act has expanded eligibility to include transit-oriented development as well as rural projects.

Those eligible to apply include state and local governments, transit agencies, railroad companies, special authorities, special districts and private firms.

“The TIFIA credit program has a strong record of success in stimulating local economies and bringing critical transportation projects to communities that need them,” Foxx said. 

“This year, the added flexibility and streamlined review process should make it easier for a variety of applicants to take advantage of the funding opportunities, and to bring significant infrastructure developments to their neighborhoods.”  

This flexibility, the DOT says, allows many qualified small- and large-scale projects that might otherwise be delayed or shelved to move forward quickly. Moreover, it gives an immediate boost to jobs growth and paves the way for ongoing economic growth.

transit tunnel
© iStock.com / svedoliver

Nearly $2 billion in previously unused earmarks is available to be repurposed into current infrastructure projects as well, the USDOT announced.

According to the DOT, historically, $1 of TIFIA funds support a TIFIA loan of about $14 and results in an infrastructure investment of up to $40, taking into account other state, local and private sector investments.

Since its inception, the TIFIA program has provided $22.7 billion in credit assistance to support more than $82.5 billion in transportation infrastructure investments to help build 56 major transportation projects around the country, the agency says.

More information, including how to submit letters of interest, is available in the TIFIA Notice of Funding Availability.

Repurposing Earmarks

The transportation agency is also sharing the news that previously unused earmarks are available to be “put back to work” in support of the nation’s infrastructure projects.

The availability of these funds comes as a result of the increased transparency and accountability the Obama administration and Congress sought regarding the use of taxpayer dollars. This included reforms that helped eliminate the process of directing funding through earmarks, the DOT said.

“Today’s action is an important reminder of how far we’ve come over the course of this Administration,” Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau said in the DOT announcement. 

“By providing a path to put nearly two billion stranded dollars to work, we have an important opportunity to support infrastructure projects across the country while at the same time clearing a legacy backlog and promoting good government,” he added.

“Instead of sitting idle, these funds can help keep drivers safe and provide opportunities for communities nationwide.”

According to a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, the DOT says, states have the option to repurpose certain earmarked funds if the original earmark is more than 10 years old, if less than 10 percent of the funds were obligated, or if the project is closed, the Federal Highway Administration’s guidance memorandum explained.

However, while states may choose to redesignate that money to other projects, the projects must be within 50 miles of the original project’s location. Additionally, when a state elects to repurpose funds, the money must be obligated by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Highway structures, Washington DC
© iStock.com / MIHAI ANDRITOU

Funding from TIFIA and unused earmarks are the latest funding options announced by the DOT. The department's FASTLANE and TIGER grant programs are also accepting applications for transportation infrastructure projects.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for state and local governments to work together to identify their needs heading into the next 30 years,” said Foxx. “I encourage these leaders to identify innovative projects that reconnect their communities and increase access to jobs, education, and basic services.”

More information, including a list of earmarks eligible for repurposing, is available through the Earmark Repurposing documents on the FHWA site.

Additional DOT Funding Channels

These are not the only funding opportunities for transportation infrastructure projects the DOT has publicized in recent weeks.

As reported previously, the DOT is currently accepting applications for $800 million in funding available through the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program. FASTLANE was developed to fund critical freight and highway projects across the country and is also authorized by the FAST Act.

Another $500 million is available for transportation projects under the DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Funding; Grants; Infrastructure; Mass transit; Public Transit; Rail; Transportation; Tunnel

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