Federal Credit Assistance Tools
Section 129 Loans
Section 129(a)(7) of Title 23 codifies the provisions for a Section 129 loan.
Title 23 - Chapter 1
§ 129. Toll roads, bridges, tunnels, and ferries
- Basic Program. -
- Authorization for federal participation. - Notwithstanding section 301 of this title and subject to the provisions of this section, the Secretary shall permit Federal participation in-
- initial construction of a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel (other than a highway, bridge, or tunnel on the Interstate System) or approach thereto;
- reconstructing, resurfacing, restoring, and rehabilitating a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel (including a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel subject to an agreement entered into under this section or section 119 (e) as in effect on the day before the date of the enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991) or approach thereto;
- reconstruction or replacement of a toll-free bridge or tunnel and conversion of the bridge or tunnel to a toll facility;
- reconstruction of a toll-free Federal-aid highway (other than a highway on the Interstate System) and conversion of the highway to a toll facility; and
- preliminary studies to determine the feasibility of a toll facility for which Federal participation is authorized under subparagraph (A), B, C, or D;
on the same basis and in the same manner as in the construction of free highways under this chapter.
- Ownership. - Each highway, bridge, tunnel, or approach thereto constructed under this subsection must-
- be publicly owned, or
- be privately owned if the public authority having jurisdiction over the highway, bridge, tunnel, or approach has entered into a contract with a private person or persons to design, finance, construct, and operate the facility and the public authority will be responsible for complying with all applicable requirements of this title with respect to the facility.
- Limitations on use of revenues. - Before the Secretary may permit Federal participation under this subsection in construction of a highway, bridge, or tunnel located in a State, the public authority (including the State transportation department) having jurisdiction over the highway, bridge, or tunnel must enter into an agreement with the Secretary which provides that all toll revenues received from operation of the toll facility will be used first for debt service, for reasonable return on investment of any private person financing the project, and for the costs necessary for the proper operation and maintenance of the toll facility, including reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation. If the State certifies annually that the tolled facility is being adequately maintained, the State may use any toll revenues in excess of amounts required under the preceding sentence for any purpose for which Federal funds may be obligated by a State under this title.
- Special rule for funding. - In the case of a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel under the jurisdiction of a public authority of a State (other than the State transportation department), upon request of the State transportation department and subject to such terms and conditions as such department and public authority may agree, the Secretary shall reimburse such public authority for the Federal share of the costs of construction of the project carried out on the toll facility under this subsection in the same manner and to the same extent as such department would be reimbursed if such project was being carried out by such department. The reimbursement of funds under this paragraph shall be from sums apportioned to the State under this chapter and available for obligations on projects on the Federal-aid system in such State on which the project is being carried out.
- Limitation on federal share. - The Federal share payable for a project described in paragraph (1) shall be a percentage determined by the State but not to exceed 80 percent.
- Modifications. - If a public authority (including a State transportation department) having jurisdiction over a toll highway, bridge, or tunnel subject to an agreement under this section or section 119 (e), as in effect on the day before the effective date of title I of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, requests modification of such agreement, the Secretary shall modify such agreement to allow the continuation of tolls in accordance with paragraph (3) without repayment of Federal funds.
- Loans. -
- In general. - A State may loan to a public or private entity constructing or proposing to construct under this section a toll facility or non-toll facility with a dedicated revenue source an amount equal to all or part of the Federal share of the cost of the project if the project has a revenue source specifically dedicated to it. Dedicated revenue sources for non-toll facilities include excise taxes, sales taxes, motor vehicle use fees, tax on real property, tax increment financing, and such other dedicated revenue sources as the Secretary determines appropriate.
- Compliance with federal laws. - As a condition of receiving a loan under this paragraph, the public or private entity that receives the loan shall ensure that the project will be carried out in accordance with this title and any other applicable Federal law, including any applicable provision of a Federal environmental law.
- Subordination of debt. - The amount of any loan received for a project under this paragraph may be subordinated to any other debt financing for the project.
- Obligation of funds loaned. - Funds loaned under this paragraph may only be obligated for projects under this paragraph.
- Repayment. - The repayment of a loan made under this paragraph shall commence not later than 5 years after date on which the facility that is the subject of the loan is open to traffic.
- Term of loan. - The term of a loan made under this paragraph shall not exceed 30 years from the date on which the loan funds are obligated.
- Interest. - A loan made under this paragraph shall bear interest at or below market interest rates, as determined by the State, to make the project that is the subject of the loan feasible.
- Reuse of funds. - Amounts repaid to a State from a loan made under this paragraph may be obligated-
- for any purpose for which the loan funds were available under this title; and
- for the purchase of insurance or for use as a capital reserve for other forms of credit enhancement for project debt in order to improve credit market access or to lower interest rates for projects eligible for assistance under this title.
- Guidelines. - The Secretary shall establish procedures and guidelines for making loans under this paragraph
- Initial construction defined. - For purposes of this subsection, the term "initial construction" means the construction of a highway, bridge, or tunnel at any time before it is open to traffic and does not include any improvement to a highway, bridge, or tunnel after it is open to traffic.
- Notwithstanding the provisions of section 301 of this title, the Secretary may permit Federal participation under this title in the construction of a project constituting an approach to a ferry, whether toll or free, the route of which is a public road and has not been designated as a route on the Interstate System. Such ferry may be either publicly or privately owned and operated, but the operating authority and the amount of fares charged for passage shall be under the control of a State agency or official, and all revenues derived from publicly owned or operated ferries shall be applied to payment of the cost of construction or acquisition thereof, including debt service, and to actual and necessary costs of operation, maintenance, repair, and replacement.
- Notwithstanding section 301 of this title, the Secretary may permit Federal participation under this title in the construction of ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities, whether toll or free, subject to the following conditions:
- It is not feasible to build a bridge, tunnel, combination thereof, or other normal highway structure in lieu of the use of such ferry.
- The operation of the ferry shall be on a route classified as a public road within the State and which has not been designated as a route on the Interstate System. Projects under this subsection may be eligible for both ferry boats carrying cars and passengers and ferry boats carrying passengers only.
- Such ferry boat or ferry terminal facility shall be publicly owned or operated or majority publicly owned if the Secretary determines with respect to a majority publicly owned ferry or ferry terminal facility that such ferry boat or ferry terminal facility provides substantial public benefits.
- The operating authority and the amount of fares charged for passage on such ferry shall be under the control of the State or other public entity, and all revenues derived therefrom shall be applied to actual and necessary costs of operation, maintenance, and  repair, debt service, negotiated management fees, and, in the case of a privately operated toll ferry, for a reasonable rate of return.
- Such ferry may be operated only within the State (including the islands which comprise the State of Hawaii and the islands which comprise any territory of the United States) or between adjoining States or between a point in a State and a point in the Dominion of Canada. Except with respect to operations between the islands which comprise the State of Hawaii, operations between the islands which comprise any territory of the United States, operations between a point in a State and a point in the Dominion of Canada, and operations between any two points in Alaska and between Alaska and Washington, including stops at appropriate points in the Dominion of Canada, no part of such ferry operation shall be in any foreign or international waters.
- No such ferry shall be sold, leased, or otherwise disposed of without the approval of the Secretary. The Federal share of any proceeds from such a disposition shall be credited to the unprogrammed balance of Federal-aid highway funds of the same class last apportioned to such State. Any amount so credited shall be in addition to all other funds then apportioned to such State and available for expenditure in accordance with the provisions of this title.