$1.7bn windfall for TIFIA

The surface transportation bill brought unprecedented upside to TIFIA, with the government loan programme receiving $1.7bn in funding.

TIFIA benefited mightily with the recently enacted surface transportation bill, obtaining $1.7 billion in what is being hailed as the largest-ever federal loan effort for transportation infrastructure.

The north-of-a-billion-dollar figure is a marked increase from the former $120 million in federal assistance allotted in 2012 to TIFIA –  which stands for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act – and followed the eleventh-hour passage of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

MAP-21 is a two-year bill calling for $105 billion in total funding. The bipartisan bill passed the US Senate in June, and was signed into law by US President Barack Obama.

With MAP-21, TIFIA will gain $700 million in 2013 and $1 billion for 2014. TIFIA went into effect in 1998 and has put $9.2 billion to leverage more than $36.4 billion in private capital, according to the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). Department Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement encouraged state application to TIFIA, calling the loan programme essential to job creation.

USDOT went on to note $17 billion is available via TIFIA, considering each federal dollar is worth $10 in TIFIA credit assistance, while pointing out both passenger rail and public transit are eligible for funding.

The surface transportation bill was cobbled together by Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the House Environment and Public Work Committee, and John Mica, a Republican senator and head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Despite the polarising political climate in Washington, D.C., as well as the struggle to reach agreement on an eventual surface transportation budget, TIFIA has strong bipartisan support.

Mica, speaking to Infrastructure Investor in an exclusive interview, championed TIFIA as preferable to creating a national infrastructure bank.