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USDOT Awards $500M Loan for CA Bridge

Monday, May 18, 2020

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United States Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced at the beginning of May that the City of Long Beach, California, had been approved for a $500 million loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

“This $500 million federal investment reflects the President’s continued emphasis on infrastructure that will reduce traffic congestion while enhancing the Port of Long Beach’s ability to handle large container ships to support economic growth in the region and the country,” said Chao.

About the Loan

According to the USDOT, the loan plans to be used to help finance the construction of the new Gerald Desmond Bridge., CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

United States Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced at the beginning of May that the City of Long Beach, California, had been approved for a $500 million loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

The bridge will replace the 50-year-old current Gerald Desmond, a steel through-arch bridge that carries Ocean Boulevard across the Back Channel of the Port of Long Beach. The new structure will measure 8,800 feet long in total, with a main span of 2,000 feet. The deck, at 205 feet above the water, will reportedly be the highest of any cable-stayed bridge in the U.S., to allow for large ship traffic in the harbor.

The infrastructure will be the first cable-stayed bridge to be built in the state. While the project launched in 2013, by December 2017, the project reached a milestone when its two 515-foot-tall towers topped out.

Each tower of the new bridge will be connected to the deck with 40 cables, each cable comprising between 30 and 80 strands. The longest cable, according to project materials, will be 573 feet long.

The $1.47 billion replacement is a project of the California Department of Transportation and the Port, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

While the project’s timeline has been delayed and its total cost increased along the way due to some seismic activity accommodating redesigns, in addition to oil and gas pipelines extraction, the project is slated to reach substantial completion by July 2020.

The newly granted $500 million TIFIA loan replaces a previous $325 million TIFIA loan which closed in 2014. However, the 2014 loan remains undrawn. USDOT reports that, “The principal amount has been increased to assist the Port with additional costs arising from the implementation of more robust design and lifecycle features.”

The Port of Long Beach intends to repay the loan through revenues generated by the Port’s operations, including long-term property and rental agreements, among other revenue sources.

During Secretary Chao’s tenure at USDOT, the Department has closed nearly $7.7 billion in TIFIA financings, which have gone on to support over $27.2 billion in infrastructure projects.

USDOT Funds, Grants

At the beginning of the year, Chao announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity totaling $906 million in grants through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America discretionary grants program. The grant program works by utilizing select criteria in order to promote projects with national and regional economic vitality goals while leveraging non-federal funding to increase the total investment by state, local and private partners.

Eligible projects include highway freight corridors on the National Highway Freight Network, highway or bridge projects on the National Highway System and projects expected to increase capacity on Interstates and other intermodal or rail projects.

In February, the USDOT applied for a $1 billion in discretionary grant funding for the Fiscal Year 2020 through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary grants program.

If approved, the BUILD grants would be awarded to planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. The DOT expects to award 50% grant funding to rural projects that deliver positive benefits for the surrounding communities and are consistent with the ROUTES initiative.

The following month, $225 million in discretionary grant funding was made available by the USDOT through a Notice of Funding Opportunity.

The funding is provided through the Port Infrastructure Development Program, which was made available through the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. The act also reserves $200 million for grants to coastal seaports and Great Lakes ports.

The program also aims to support ports and port stakeholders’ efforts to improve infrastructure and ensure future transportation needs. This program also provides planning, stakeholder engagement, operational and capital financing, and project management assistance to ports and port stakeholders.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Funding; Government contracts; Grants; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Port Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Upcoming projects

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