DOT announces loan for CATS Blue Line extension
Washington – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a $180 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension. The TIFIA loan will support the expansion of the popular light rail system from Center City Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte Campus.
“This project is already catalyzing economic growth and opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNCC campus and giving commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on I-85 and U.S. 29. The project also connects and will help revitalize many historically underserved neighborhoods,” said Secretary Foxx. “The Blue Line extension is an important piece of the overall transit system that Charlotte needs in order to thrive in the 21st Century.”
CATS officials estimate that the light rail extension will create approximately 7,600 jobs during construction with total light rail ridership at more than 18,900 additional riders each weekday when the extension opens in 2018. The 9.3 mile extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile light rail corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US Route 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.
“The LYNX Blue Line extension is critical to the City of Charlotte. The TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure that CATS can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Lana Hurdle, DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.
In addition to the $180 million TIFIA loan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $580 million for the $1.16 billion project through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.
“For residents and visitors alike, Charlotte’s transportation system provides a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Charlotte has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CATS, the City of Charlotte, and the State of North Carolina continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”
The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 54 projects turn more than $22 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $81 billion in infrastructure investment across America.
As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at www.transportation.gov/tifia.
The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which is estimated to result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion.