USDOT Financing Resources
In addition to discretionary grant funding programs outlined in this toolkit, the Department administers credit and loan programs to support transportation projects. The Build America Bureau within the Office of the Secretary of Transportation is the primary overseer of these financing programs. The Center for Innovative Finance Support within the Federal Highway Administration also provides financing programs, guidance, and resources for applicable transportation projects.
The Build America Bureau (Bureau) is responsible for driving transportation infrastructure development projects in the U.S. The Bureau streamlines access to USDOT credit and grant programs, provides technical assistance, and encourages innovative practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring. The Bureau draws upon resources and expertise from across the Department and strives to promote a culture of innovation and customer service. The Bureau’s major programs include the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Rural Project Initiative and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Express.
This initiative, in partnership with the FHWA, aims to help improve transportation infrastructure in America’s rural communities by increasing the accessibility of financing options. Applicants in qualified rural areas with eligible surface transportation projects between $10 million and $75 million can experience benefits and savings. Eligible entities include State and local governments, transit agencies, private entities, Special Authorities such as government-sponsored corporations, transportation improvement districts, and State infrastructure banks. The TIFIA Rural Project Initiative:
- Finances up to 49% of eligible project costs
- Maintains a fixed rate equal to one half of the U.S. Treasury Rate at time of closing
- Covers borrower fees
- Provides a 1.07% interest rate (as of Oct. 2019)
- Offers fixed interest rate loans for up to 35 years, or longer
This program, in partnership with the FRA, provides direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35 billion to finance the development of railroad infrastructure. Up to $7 billion is reserved for projects benefiting freight railroads other than Class I carriers. Eligible borrowers include railroads, State and local governments, government-sponsored authorities and corporations, joint ventures that include at least one railroad, and limited-option freight shippers that intend to construct a new rail connection. The RRIF Express program for Class II and Class III railroads:
- Covers the first $100,000 in advisor fees
- Covers the cost of the loan up to 5% of the loan amount to offset the Credit Risk Premium
The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Center for Innovative Finance Support (formerly Innovative Program Delivery) provides tools, expertise, and financing to help the transportation community explore and implement innovative strategies for costly and complex infrastructure projects. The Center’s mission is to expand public sector capacity to design and implement alternative financial strategies to deliver transportation infrastructure.
These strategies are grouped into three program areas: public-private partnerships, project finance, and revenue. The Center conducts research, provides training, distributes information, and provides technical assistance in support of these program areas. It also serves as FHWA's connection to the Build America Bureau and works to coordinate FHWA technical assistance for transportation projects receiving Bureau support. The Center also provides guidance to applicants on how to leverage Transportation Development Credits and other Federal-aid matching strategies.