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Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Secretary Anthony Foxx

 

"Remarks as prepared for delivery"

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Oral Testimony

July 24, 2013

 

Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Vitter, and Members of the Committee: It is a pleasure to join you today in my first hearing as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Today I’m going to discuss the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program—more commonly known as TIFIA.

Mayors and governors across the country are looking for ways to get more out of taxpayer dollars while still making critical investments in the future—I know from experience.

TIFIA is a powerful tool that helps us do just that.

As most of you know, TIFIA was created by Congress to help State and local governments finance large-scale transportation projects with innovative sources of revenue.

TIFIA’s flexible terms and low interest rates make it possible to obtain financing for critical projects that otherwise would have been delayed or deferred because of their size and complexity. 

This includes projects like the recently closed SR 91 Corridor Improvement Project in Riverside, California. 

At the beginning of this month we provided a    $421 million loan to this $1.3 billion project, which is expected to reduce traffic delays and create more than 16,000 new jobs. 

TIFIA is truly a multimodal program.

Many large-scale, surface transportation projects, including highway, transit, railroad, intermodal freight, and port access projects, are eligible for assistance. 

Increasingly, we’re seeing a broad interest in TIFIA for innovative projects and projects with non-traditional sponsors.

And we’re seeing interest in states across the country—with more states taking advantage of the program each year.

 

 

 

TIFIA is fulfilling its fundamental goal: to leverage Federal funds by attracting substantial private and other non-Federal investments in critical improvements to the nation's surface transportation system.

In short, TIFIA helps us stretch our dollars further. 

This committee recognizes the power of TIFIA as a tool that can leverage Federal resources.

MAP-21, the transportation bill that you passed and the President signed last summer, included a significant expansion of the program, increasing TIFIA’s funding more than eightfold – from $122 million per year to $1 billion per year in Fiscal Year 2014.  

We estimate that TIFIA’s leverage ratio is more than 30 to 1, meaning that one dollar of budget authority will result in over $30 of infrastructure investment.  

At the MAP-21 funding level, the TIFIA program will stimulate as much as $30 billion or more in infrastructure investment in Fiscal Year 2014 alone. 

The demand for TIFIA is high. In each of the last three years, we’ve received $12 billion to $15 billion in requests for TIFIA assistance. 

This year is no different.  DOT has received a record $15.8 billion in requests to finance 31 projects across the country. 

Thanks to the strong, bipartisan support and leadership of Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Vitter, and the rest of the Committee, we now have the resources to meet the demand for TIFIA.

Since MAP-21 went into effect, we have been working hard to disperse this money quickly—committing more than $800 million of budget authority for 18 projects.

In total, we have 25 projects progressing through the TIFIA pipeline right now.

To put that in perspective, that’s about two-thirds the total number of projects that TIFIA has financed since 1999.

We’re also streamlining the way we manage this program, and we’re continuing to spread the word—developing a series of webinars for local stakeholders who are interested in TIFIA.

Transparency and accountability are a high priority throughout the process.

DOT is working to keep stakeholders informed throughout our creditworthiness evaluation process, which is a rigorous, but highly efficient effort to ensure that loans are likely to be repaid and that taxpayers are protected.

We’re also committed to oversight. Our DOT Credit Council is chaired by Deputy Secretary John Porcari and reviews all TIFIA requests.

Under the Obama Administration, the DOT Credit Council has strengthened its focus on creditworthiness requirements, incorporating lessons from the financial crisis and ensuring that projects are not overleveraged or financed based on overly optimistic assumptions about revenue performance. 

Above all, TIFIA has been a highly successful way to leverage Federal dollars, and it has helped communities across America invest in the large scale infrastructure projects we need to be successful in the 21st century.

To date, the program has extended more than $11 billion in credit assistance to support almost $44 billion in highway, bridge, rail and bus projects.

This year, we expect to obligate TIFIA funds for seven or more projects—a record number—and 2014 promises to be even busier.

Again, it’s a pleasure to be here.

I look forward to working with all of you to address our nation’s important infrastructure needs.

And I’m happy to answer your questions at this time.


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Updated: Monday, August 5, 2013