TIFIA loan requests top $13 billion

An “overwhelming demand” for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program loans has greatly exceeded the dollars available, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Feb. 15, adding that it underscores President Obama’s call for greater transportation investment.The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) received 26 TIFIA letters of interest exceeding $13 billion.

“President Obama has challenged us to build an economy that works for everyone, and the tremendous demand for TIFIA loans shows how much communities across America want to upgrade their roads, transit and rail,” LaHood said in a press release about the loans. “We have critical transportation work that needs to be done and Americans who are ready to do the work.”

The high number of applicants for TIFIA credit assistance in response to a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for 2012 follows the trend in recent years of overwhelming demand for the program. Requests in 2010 were more than $12 billion and more than $14 billion in 2011, according to the U.S. DOT. In light of the increased demand, the President’s FY 2013 budget proposes to increase the program’s funding level to $500 million which will leverage into approximately $5 billion in TIFIA loans.

“TIFIA has been instrumental in moving projects forward,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said in a written statement. “The program offers an additional finance option to states to meet transportation needs at a time when funds are lacking.”

The TIFIA program provides federal credit assistance to nationally or regionally significant surface transportation projects, including highway, transit and rail. The program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial private co-investment by providing projects with supplemental or subordinate debt.