U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established the Build America Bureau, which will drive transportation infrastructure development projects in the United States by streamlining credit and grant opportunities while providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative 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,” said Secretary Foxx. “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 population centers.”
The Build America Bureau combines the following DOT programs: The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and 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 and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program.
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 DOT on infrastructure finance and development.
The Bureau Outreach and Development team, continuing the work of the BATIC, will work with the project sponsors to support them on 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 to get them ready to pursue it. The Department’s Credit team will be able to 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 DOT to help them build the infrastructure they need. Also, the Bureau will manage the application and evaluation process for the FASTLANE grant program, which funds high-impact projects that address key challenges affecting the movement of people and freight.
BATIC, which was announced in 2014, has expanded the Department’s ability to meet the needs of the nation’s transportation system. BATIC serves as a single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities, and project sponsors looking to utilize federal transportation expertise, apply for federal transportation credit programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships (P3s). Since BATIC’s formation, DOT has closed over $10 billion in financing to support $26 billion in projects.
The FAST Act supports an even more comprehensive approach to the role that BATIC has initiated over the past couple of years and will ensure that the BATIC efforts are continued into the future.