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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 76 · No. 5 > Guest Editorial

March/April 2013
Vol. 76 · No. 5

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-003

Guest Editorial

Delivering Large, Complex, and Costly Highway Projects

Headshot of Regina McElroy.Across the country, State and local departments of transportation (DOTs) are putting in place large, complex, and expensive projects to improve the Nation’s road network. Projects costing more than $500 million -- referred to as “major projects” -- deliver critical transportation services that enhance public safety and mobility and promote economic competitiveness. Major projects tend to receive intense public scrutiny because they require significant investments of public resources. In fact, the commitment that public agencies make to deliver major projects is tantamount to a contract with their constituents. The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Innovative Program Delivery is charged with providing tools, technical assistance, and stewardship and oversight to assist DOTs in meeting the cost and schedule promises inherent in these “contracts.”

Staff in the Office of Innovative Program Delivery confirms that the projected costs for major projects are reasonable, the needed funds are available, and plans are in place to manage these projects effectively so that they will be delivered on time and on budget. FHWA also provides onsite stewardship and oversight for these projects.

FHWA’s interest in major projects does not end with the ones that are close to or in the midst of construction. The Office of Innovative Program Delivery also supports project sponsors who work to secure the capital resources needed to build major projects in the future. Through a comprehensive program of awareness-building, training, technical assistance, and research, the office provides project sponsors with the knowledge and tools needed to assemble funding for a viable plan of project finance. In particular, the office focuses on the following project finance tools:

  • Government-sponsored credit assistance through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program
  • Bond and debt financing strategies, including Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEEs)
  • Financial management or cash flow techniques such as toll credits
  • Procurement options, such as public-private partnerships, which can introduce new sources of capital, including private equity
  • Revenue generation options such as tolling and pricing

The recently enacted surface transportation authorizing legislation, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), acknowledges that the country faces unprecedented challenges in delivering critical transportation projects. Congress included provisions to strengthen the project delivery toolbox and encourage State and local officials to apply those tools in the public interest. In particular, Congress increased the size of TIFIA so that, over the 2-year life of MAP-21, the program will be able to provide up to $17 billion in credit assistance. The act also calls for FHWA to offer enhanced capacity building and technical assistance.

Program staff with the Office of Innovative Program Delivery is keenly aware of the need for new tools and new ways of applying existing tools to extend the transportation community’s fiscal resources. As such, the office implements several experimental programs aimed at identifying new possibilities and then pursing innovative strategies for turning those possibilities into accepted business practices. In all of its endeavors, the office ensures that the tools in the project finance toolbox are advanced with the public’s interest as the primary objective.

Stay tuned to upcoming issues of Public Roads for more on how FHWA can help you plan and deliver your next major project.

Regina McElroy

Director, Office of Innovative Program Delivery

Federal Highway Administration

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