AASHTO Journal, 3 April 2015
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the Ohio Department of Transportation is receiving a low-interest, long-term TIFIA loan for up to $209.3 million to help finance the largest single road project ODOT has undertaken.
That Portsmouth Bypass Project, in Scioto County in south-central Ohio along the Ohio River, is also ODOT’s first public-private partnership, under which a developer will finance and build a 16-mile, limited-access, four-lane highway and maintain it over 35 years.
That is expected to reduce traffic along 26 miles of existing roads, and allow commercial trucks avoid a succession of traffic lights in Portsmouth. It is also designed to complete the missing link of the Appalachian Highway System in Ohio and fuel economic development in an area with significantly greater unemployment that the rest of the state.
The project has an estimated cost of $479 million, and is the agency’s largest earthwork construction effort. ODOT will make milestone payments during construction and other payments over the life of the agreement to repay the developer group.
Construction is starting this year and the bypass work is expected to take about four years. It will include building 20 bridges, 17 retaining walls and five interchanges, according to a slide presentation describing the project.
ODOT said last fall, as it announced the P3 team, that “by using a P3, ODOT is able to accelerate the entire project by decades, and the department can avoid rising costs by taking advantage of current competitive economic conditions.”
The agency was able to use this method under new P3 rules the state adopted in 2011, but ODOT has said a key to making it work was getting the TIFIA loan. Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau also said that “the TIFIA program is providing a critical piece of the financing.”
Foxx said the U.S. DOT is expanding opportunities for partnership between the public and private sectors, including a new Build America Transportation Investment Center “as a one-stop shop to support potential PPP projects.”
The TIFIA award to ODOT, Foxx said, aids “an important project that will not only improve highway safety, but represents an important partnership between the public and private sector to advance our overall investment in this nation’s infrastructure.”
The TIFIA program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funds backing TIFIA loans can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit, and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment.