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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 29, 2002
Contact: Jim Pinkelman
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 33-02

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces $917 Million Loan For Central Texas Turnpike Project

In its continued efforts to employ innovative financing techniques to help surface transportation projects move forward, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration has closed on a $916.76 million loan to the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC), U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced today. The loan will help fund the $3.6 billion first phase of the Central Texas Turnpike Project, which is a toll highway facility through central Texas.

"Through TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998), we are providing innovative financing for transportation projects that might otherwise not have received financing and moved forward," Secretary Mineta said. "The investments we are making in Texas and across the country will provide an economic boost while improving the transportation infrastructure, all at a cost savings to the taxpayer. At the same time, this particular loan will help to advance the turnpike project, which is vital to the safety and the mobility of residents and visitors in central Texas."

The TTC will use the loan proceeds to partly finance design and construction of the first phase of the Central Texas Turnpike project, which is composed of three distinct elements: Loop 1, State Highway 45 North, and the northern segment of SH 130. Loop 1, a 3.5-mile element, will serve as a major north-south route in the Austin vicinity. State Highway 45 North, about 13.2 miles in length, will serve as a connector between the cities of Austin, Round Rock, and Pflugerville. SH 130, a 49-mile element, will be an eastern bypass for Austin, Texas, and is parallel to and east of I-35, one of the more congested urban parts of the interstate.

The Texas Turnpike Authority Division of the Texas Department of Transportation is managing the project. TxDOT has retained a general consultant engineer and two engineering firms to assist with management of the construction project. The Loop 1 and SH 45 will be constructed using the traditional design-bid-build process, and SH 130 is under an exclusive development agreement with Lone Star Infrastructure. The first phase of the turnpike project will be open in segments and the final phase will open to traffic in December 2007.

In addition to the TIFIA loan, the TTC will issue $1.2 billion in revenue bonds and $900 million in bond anticipation notes. The remainder of the project will be financed through contributions from TxDOT and contributions of right-of-way by the surrounding jurisdictions.

TIFIA, a provision of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), authorizes an innovative financing program under which USDOT provides credit assistance rather than grants to public and private sponsors of major surface transportation projects. USDOT has selected 11 projects to benefit from TIFIA at a budgetary cost of slightly more than $200 million to the federal government, providing $3.7 billion in credit assistance supporting transportation investments worth more than $15 billion.

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 on or adjacent to the National Highway System.

Projects thus far selected to receive support under TIFIA include State Route 125, San Diego, CA; Miami Intermodal Center; Tren Urbano Transit System, San Juan, PR; Farley-Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Project, New York; Metrorail Capital Program, Washington, DC; Staten Island Ferries and Terminals, New York; Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, SC; Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Pierce County, WA; Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor, Reno, NV; and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Project, Bay Area, CA.

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