Toll projects get four of five short list places for TIFIA credit assistance
By Peter Samuel
Four out of five projects advancing for USDOT TIFIA loan assistance are toll projects. The toll projects invited to apply are (1) the VA/I-95 HOT Lanes (2) North Tarrant Express 3a & 3b (3) CA91 Express Lanes Improvement Riverside Co and (4) the CO/US36 Phase 2. The only untolled project invited to make the formal application is the Gerald Desmond Bridge at the Port of Long Beach CA.
The statement today: "The projects invited to apply are well aligned with the TIFIA statutory selection criteria. The invitation to apply does not guarantee that the project will receive assistance. The Department will evaluate each project to determine its creditworthiness and negotiate acceptable terms for providing credit support."
Biggest surprise is Gerald Desmond Bridge - no tolls
The most surprising recipient is the Gerald Desmond Bridge which has no identifiable revenue stream to support $500m of loans being taken out to support it. And nothing but the dubious financial condition of the state of California to back it!
The Gerald Desmond Bridge is a $950m 6-lane cable stayed bridge at the port of Long Beach that is designed to replace a 1968 4-lane thru-arch truss bridge. As in the case of the Bayonne Bridge NY the old bridge deck is 160ft, 48m over the water - too low to accommodate the largest new container ships, so the replacement span deck will be over 200ft, 63m high. The Desmond bridge carries an average 68k vehicles/day (18m/yr) which 6 lanes will accommodate more comfortably. The bridge has a main span of 415ft, 120m.
Located at the end of I-710 it is a link in a 4-mile, 7km east-west expressway standard route between Long Beach through Terminal Island, heart of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach - and San Pedro at the southern end of I-110. The Vincent Thomas Bridge carries the route over the western channel to the ports.
Together the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are by far the largest container port in the United States and generate major freight rail and truck traffic north up I-110 and I-710.
Of interest are the projects the Feds are declining to grant TIFIA credit assistance at this time:
- Loop1604 San Antonio
- TX550 Cameron Co TX
- MoPac Austin TX
- Dominion Blvd, Chesapeake VA
- Streetcars, Kansas City MO
- DART orange rail Dallas TX
- FL/I-75 HOT Lanes Broward Co
- Gold Line metro LA, CA
- Ohio River Bridges Louisville KY/IN
- Knik Arm Bridge, Alaska
- Dulles Rail, northern VA
-Tappan Zee Bridge, NY State Thruway
- Garden Parkway Gaston Connector, Charlottte NC
- Mid Currituck Bridge, Outer Banks NC
- TX/I-35E HOT lanes Dallas TX
- Pod Train, San Diego CA
- Otay Mesa interchange San Diego CA
- CA85 HOT lanes Santa Clara Co CA
- Columbia River Bridges WA
The 26 letters of interest sought over $13b in federal credit assistance under TIFIA for projects costing $36b.
The five selected in a kind of short-listing involve projects costing $4,872m and request credit assistance of $1,625m.
TIFIA assistance includes direct loans on better terms than available in the market, conditions of the loans that carry heavy risk and relieve other investors of risk, and various kinds of assurance of backing.
Because demand for the TIFIA loans exceeds money available the USDOT is doing sequential solicitations. Projects not invited in one round to go forward can reapply in future solicitations.
N Tarrant Dallas TX:
Gerald Desmond Bridge Long Beach CA:
CO36 toll lanes/BRT:
COMMENT: something rotten is going on with the short-listing of the Gerald Desmond Bridge ahead of a bunch of toll projects. That bridge has no identified income stream to support its debt. Over half its debt will be funded by "state highway and transportation bonds." And this is a project that absolutely could have been financed with tolls. Traffic on its four lanes averages 68k/day - Detroit DRIC enthusiasts note that number - and at $950m the cost of the 6-lane replacement is reasonable. The failure to toll such a project is a reminder of California as Lala Land.