US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Obama administration will make $17 billion available for loans to construct transportation projects, according to The Hill:
The loans are part of an expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program in the recently approved $105 billion transportation bill. The transportation bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), included $1.7 billion for the TIFIA program over the next two years.
LaHood said Friday that the DOT was making $17 billion immediately, which he said would generate job growth in a stagnant U.S. economy.
“TIFIA offers flexible terms and gives many qualified, large-scale projects the extra boost they need to break ground and put people back to work,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “This is a sign that in a time of fiscal austerity, we can still do big things.”
LaHood said the expansion of the TIFIA loan program would help address “a pent-up demand for infrastructure projects.”
“We’re going to be looking for projects that are of national significance where folks are working together,” he said. “I think we have done a pretty good job with TIFIA. Now we have more resources.”
The new transportation bill, which took effect shortly after it was signed by President Obama, provides $750 million for the TIFIA program in 2013 and $1 billion in 2014.
LaHood said Friday that the expansion was the “largest infrastructure loan program in history.”