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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Contact: Brian Keeter
(202) 366-0660
FHWA 01-05

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces Innovative Loan To Help Launch Central Texas Turnpike
Bush Administration Promotes Financing Tool That Lowers Costs, Speeds Construction

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced that the federal government is closing on a $66 million loan to help launch the 183A Turnpike near Austin, TX, in order to relieve congestion in one of the fastest growing regions of the country.

The U.S. Department of Transportation loan to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is expected to lower overall costs and accelerate completion time of the Turnpike project.

"This loan gives the project the extra push it needs to succeed," Secretary Mineta said. "It will help attract private dollars faster and speed congestion relief to Texas commuters sooner."

The U.S. DOT loan was made under an innovative financing program established by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The credit assistance program helps state and local governments secure transportation funding from private sources. By blending public and private funding sources, it advances large, capital-intensive transportation improvements that otherwise might be delayed or not built at all.

The Bush Administration wants to expand the successful loan program so that more projects around the country are eligible for assistance similar to that provided to the 183A Turnpike. The Administration’s surface transportation proposal, which Congress will soon consider, contains a number of measures that encourage these types of public-private partnerships.

Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters said, “Public-private partnerships hold great potential to make our transportation dollars go further, speed highway and bridge improvements to the public, and foster innovation in design and construction.”

The loan announced today will help finance design and construction of an 11.6-mile, four-lane tolled highway that will run roughly parallel to existing U.S. 183. The heavily traveled highway now carries approximately 44,000 vehicles per day, a figure expected to climb to 58,500 vehicles per day in 15 years.

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