Goal: More efficiency for U.S. infrastructure projects
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced July 20 that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established the Build America Bureau (Bureau), with the objective to better drive transportation infrastructure projects in the U.S. by streamlining credit and grant opportunities, providing technical assistance and encouraging best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring.
“The Build America Bureau will be a one-stop shop to help develop projects and provide financing in a single streamlined, effective, and comprehensive manner,” Foxx said. “It will allow DOT to be responsive to America’s changing transportation needs and opportunities, so we can deliver real, tangible infrastructure development for local, regional, and national [projects].”
The new DOT Bureau consolidates the following programs: the Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (TIFIA), the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF), the private activity bond (PAB), the Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC), and the new $800 million Fostering Advancements in Shipping & Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program.
A press release also issued July 20 stated: The Bureau will utilize the full resources of all the modes within DOT, and continue to promote a culture of innovation and customer service. To the customer, there will be a single entity in charge of DOT credit, large-scale, and intermodal project development, and a single point of contact for working with the DOT on infrastructure finance and development.
The release noted that the Bureau’s Outreach and Development team will work with project sponsors to show them how they can best combine DOT credit, funding, and innovative project delivery approaches such as public-private partnerships (P3s), and then offer project-level technical assistance.
The DOT’s Credit team can underwrite loans from multiple sources together, so that the customer is no longer getting a TIFIA loan or a RRIF loan, but instead a single credit package from the DOT. The Bureau will also manage the application and evaluation process for the FASTLANE grant program, according to the press release.
The Bureau’s BATIC, established in 2014, will continue to serve as a single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities, and project sponsors looking to use federal transportation expertise, apply for federal transportation credit programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships (P3s). The release noted that since BATIC’s formation, the DOT has closed more than $10 billion in financing to support $26 billion in projects.