AASHTO recommends increased federal portion of TIFIA, simplified applications

Updated Jul 19, 2017

I 80 Eastshore Fwy E1434978389955The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recommends the federal government increase financing for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program and create a simplified application process for agencies to apply for the loans.

AASHTO presented this opinion July 12 in a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing covering TIFIA and other transportation project financing options.

The group says the federal-share financing cap for the program, which was increased to 49 percent of a project’s cost from 33 percent, has not in fact increased and has remained at the lower level.

And, it adds the FAST Act, passed in 2015, mandated TIFIA applications be expedited. However, the group says the process is still “burdensome,” saying project sponsors are hit with long and uncertain processes.

“AASHTO encourages the USDOT to develop a simpler, faster and more reliable application process for all project sponsors but especially for the smaller projects with simpler terms. This may be an area that requires additional Congressional action in subsequent legislation,” the association reported in its comments to the Senate committee.

“While the FAST Act included modest funding increases for Federal-aid highway programs, infrastructure needs still far outpace resources available to state DOTs. AASHTO believes that encouraging (or requiring) state DOTs to utilize their federal-aid funds to pay for TIFIA loans while ample TIFIA subsidy funding remains available is neither efficient nor equitable. That would result in states seeking TIFIA loans having to reallocate resources from their regular program accounts to the state DOT’s TIFIA account. It also would have the effect of reallocating TIFIA program funding from those state-sponsored projects to other projects, effectively cross-subsidizing other TIFIA projects with the states’ federal-aid funding.”

AASHTO’s full commentary on the TIFIA program is available here.