Delaware’s U.S. 301 Mainline toll road to get $211.35 million TIFIA loan

Screenshot from U.S. 301 Mainline toll road simulationScreenshot from U.S. 301 Mainline toll road simulation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will provide a maximum loan of $211.35 million for construction of the U.S. 301 Mainline toll road project that begins at the Maryland and Delaware state line. The loan comes from USDOT’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

“Financial assistance from the (USDOT) means two important things for the US 301 toll project,” Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Jennifer Cohan said. “The first is that the financial and traffic assumptions that underlie the cost recovery aspects of the toll road are workable and sound. The second is the project will receive the benefit of low cost financing and a deferred repayment schedule giving the road the time it needs to begin generating significant revenue. Receiving approval from the US DOT gives DelDOT great confidence in pursuing this important project.”

The TIFIA loan provides “below market” interest rates and five years of deferred interest and 10 years of deferred principal payments. DelDOT says the deferrals will help the department create a reserve fund for the first five years the toll operates “to create an additional financial margin of safety between the U.S. 301 repayment obligations and the state’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), which is securing the repayment.”

The project is estimated to cost $470 million, with the remaining funding coming from 2010 Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEE) Bond Proceeds ($18 million) and U.S. 301 Toll Revenue Bond ($241 million).

“The pledge of federal financial assistance to this project will deliver significant benefits to the people of Delaware in terms of economic growth, increased traffic flow and stronger safety measures,” Delaware Governor Jack Markell said. “There are still more steps to move forward, but we are hopeful construction of the U.S. 301 road will serve as starting point for more great projects that will support the ongoing growth and prosperity of southern New Castle County.”

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The timeline now begins for the project, with DelDOT expecting to notify contractors immediately and advertising for bids this month or September, followed by several management steps for the bonds in October, selling the bonds and closing on the TIFIA Loan in November, and beginning construction in January 2016. The estimated opening of U.S. 301 “for toll revenue service” is December 2018.

This video shows the projects path of the U.S. 301 Mainline toll road with a generated simulation and current topography view.