Senators launch TIFIA reform

Bipartisan proposals to reform the TIFIA program have been put forward in the US Senate.

Senators John Cornyn (R for TX) and Tim Kaine (D for VA) have introduced the Revitalizing American Priorities for Infrastructure Development (RAPID) Act, in a bid to streamline and accelerate the process for projects to secure TIFIA funding.

Cornyn said: “The TIFIA program is an invaluable tool for state and local governments to update their transportation infrastructure in a fiscally responsible way, but the current process can be arduous and lengthy.”

The proposal would raise the threshold for applicants to secure multiple credit rating agency evaluations of their senior debt obligations from $75m to $150m, hoping that smaller and low-risk projects won’t be required to obtain investment grade ratings from at least two nationally recognized credit rating agencies.

The legislation would also require the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to follow a fast-track application process for certain projects as set out in the FAST Act, which senators claimed was “underutilized”.

USDOT would also be required to publish online status reports on projects seeking TIFIA assistance for the general public to consult.

Kaine said: “These carefully targeted changes will make it easier, faster, and more cost effective for communities to finance key transportation projects with TIFIA loans, while also maintaining rigorous loan standards.”