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Staten Island Hooks $152.8M for Ferry, Terminal Project

Wed October 11, 2000 - Northeast Edition
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Expanding on efforts to provide innovative financing for transportation projects, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater has named three projects to benefit from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will provide $637.8 million of credit assistance to projects of national and regional significance in New York, South Carolina and Washington worth $1.95 billion. This credit assistance will cost the federal government only $37.4 million. Every TIFIA dollar spent will contribute to more than $52 in capital investment.

“Through TIFIA, we are responding to President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s call to create a government that works better and costs less,” said Secretary Slater. “By providing a new and better way of doing business, we are making possible major transportation investments which might otherwise not have received financing and moved forward.”

TIFIA, authorized under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and signed into law by President Clinton in June 1998, authorized an innovative financing program under which the Department of Transportation provides credit assistance rather than grants to public and private sponsors of major surface transportation projects.

On Sept. 27, 1999, the department selected the first projects to benefit from TIFIA, in which DOT, at a cost of only $61 million to the federal government, provided $1.6 billion in credit assistance to projects worth $6.5 billion.

The projects selected for fiscal year 2000 under TIFIA are:

Staten Island Ferries and Terminals, New York — This $463.1-million project, supported by a $152.8-million TIFIA loan, includes the rebuilding of the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan and the St. George Terminal in Staten Island, as well as replacement of three ferry boats that have been in operation since the 1960s.

Completion of the project is expected in 2003.

Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, SC — A TIFIA loan of $215 million will support this new 2.5-mi. bridge, estimated to cost up to $650 million, which will replace two existing, structurally deficient bridges connecting Charleston and Mount Pleasant, SC.

Completion of the project is expected in December 2004.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Project, Pierce County, WA — This $835-million project, backed by a $240-million TIFIA loan and a $30-million line of credit, will improve a 3.4-mi. segment of State Route 16 between Tacoma and Gig Harbor, WA, alleviating congestion and improving the safety and reliability of the crossing.

Completion is expected in May 2005.

TIFIA is designed to provide federal credit assistance to major transportation infrastructure projects that address critical national needs, such as intermodal facilities, border crossing infrastructure, highway trade corridors, and transit and passenger rail facilities with regional and national benefits.

Projects eligible for assistance under TIFIA include highways and bridges; transit facilities and vehicles; intercity passenger bus and rail facilities and vehicles, including Amtrak and components of magnetic levitation systems; and publicly owned intermodal surface freight transfer facilities that are on or adjacent to the National Highway System.

To be eligible, projects also must generally cost at least $100 million or equal at least 50 percent of the amount of federal highway assistance funds apportioned for the most recent fiscal year to the state in which the project is located. The projects also must be supported at least partially by user charges or other dedicated revenues.

The program provides three types of financial assistance and addresses a project’s varying needs during development, construction and operation.

These include:

• direct federal loans to project sponsors;

• loan guarantees which provide full-faith-and-credit guarantees by the federal government to institutional investors, such as pension funds, that make loans for projects; and

• standby lines of credit representing contingent federal loans that may be drawn upon to supplement project revenues on the occurrence of certain events during the first 10 years of project operations.

Qualified projects were evaluated by the U.S. Department of Transportation based on the statutory selection criteria that included the extent to which the projects would generate economic benefits, leverage private capital, promote innovative technologies, and meet other transportation objectives.

The projects selected to receive support under TIFIA in 1999 were State Route 125, San Diego; the Miami, FL, Intermodal Center; Tren Urbano, San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Farley-Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Project, New York City; and the Metrorail Capital Program, Washington, DC.

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