[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 20 (Monday, February 1, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5169-5170]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-1966]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary of Transportation

[Docket No. FHWA-2009-0123]


Listening Session Regarding Notice of Funding Availability for 
Applications for Credit Assistance Under the Transportation 
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Program; 
Clarification of TIFIA Selection Criteria; and Request for Comments on 
Potential Implementation of Pilot Program To Accept Upfront Payments 
for the Entire Subsidy Cost of TIFIA Credit Assistance and TIFIA 
Reauthorization

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad 
Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Maritime 
Administration (MARAD), Office of the Secretary of Transportation 
(OST), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of listening session.

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SUMMARY: The DOT's TIFIA Joint Program Office (JPO) announces a 
listening session for the public to discuss the topics identified in 
the notice of funding availability (NOFA) published in the Federal 
Register at 74 FR 63497, that had an original deadline of December 31, 
2009, and was later extended to March 1, 2010 (75 FR 506). This 
listening session will facilitate stakeholder feedback in a timely 
manner, consistent with the extension of the comment period and the 
March 1, 2010, deadline for comments to the docket.

DATES: The DOT will conduct a listening session on Friday, February 12, 
2010, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. e.t.

ADDRESSES: The listening session will be held in the West Atrium of the 
U.S. Department of Transportation located at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, 
SE., Washington, DC 20590. Due to security procedures and space 
limitations, participants will need to register online in advance using 
the following URL http://www.housmanandassociates.com/usdot/ to gain 
admittance to the meeting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding this 
notice please contact Oscar Bedolla via e-mail at TIFIACredit@dot.gov 
or via telephone at (202) 366-0368. A TDD is available at (202) 366-
7687.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Public 
Law 105-178, 112 Stat.107, 241, (as amended by sections 1601-02 of Pub. 
L. 109-59) established the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and 
Innovation Act of 1998, authorizing the DOT to provide credit 
assistance in the form of secured (direct) loans, lines of credit, and 
loan guarantees to public and private applicants for eligible surface 
transportation projects. The TIFIA JPO, a component of the FHWA Office 
of Innovative Program Delivery, has responsibility for coordinating 
program implementation.
    In 2005, Congress enacted the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, 
Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) 
(Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144), which made a number of amendments to 
TIFIA including lowering the thresholds and expanding eligibility for 
TIFIA credit assistance. Discussions regarding the pending 
reauthorization of the TIFIA program are anticipated in the coming 
months, and we are looking to stakeholders to provide feedback on 
potential program improvements for consideration during reauthorization 
discussions.

[[Page 5170]]

    Because the demand for credit assistance now exceeds budgetary 
resources, it is no longer feasible for DOT to maintain, as it had 
since 2002, an open process whereby the TIFIA JPO accepted applications 
on a ``first come, first serve'' basis as defined by the optimal 
schedule of the applicant. Instead, the DOT is returning to periodic 
fixed-date solicitations that will establish a competitive group of 
projects to be evaluated against the TIFIA program objectives.
    The eight TIFIA selection criteria are described in statute at 23 
U.S.C. 602(b) and assigned relative weights via regulation at 49 CFR 
80.15. The criteria were restated in the December 3, 2009, Federal 
Register notice at 74 FR 63497 with, where appropriate, clarifying 
language that indicated how the DOT will interpret them. In general, 
these clarifications indicated the DOT's desire to give priority to 
projects that have a significant impact on desirable long-term outcomes 
for the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region.
    As detailed in the December 3, 2009, Federal Register notice, 
beginning in fiscal year 2008, the total credit requests from TIFIA 
applicants exceeded available resources. In response, the Department 
suspended consideration of new applications and reserved anticipated 
fiscal years 2009 and 2010 appropriations with the expectation that 
existing applicants would contribute to the Government's cost of 
providing credit assistance. Several potential applicants, however, 
rather than waiting to compete for scarce TIFIA funds in fiscal year 
2010 and beyond, have indicated an interest paying a fee to offset the 
entire budgetary cost to the Federal Government. As a result, the DOT 
announced that it is exploring the potential of implementing a pilot 
program under which the DOT would accept applications for projects 
where the borrowers are willing and able to pay a fee to offset the 
entire subsidy cost of TIFIA credit assistance. The purpose of this 
pilot program would be to extend credit, consistent with policy 
objectives, to qualified projects that DOT otherwise cannot provide 
TIFIA assistance merely due to insufficient budgetary resources.
    Finally, with the pending discussions regarding reauthorization of 
the TIFIA credit program, the DOT is soliciting stakeholder 
reauthorization proposals at this listening session regarding potential 
changes to improve the TIFIA program.

II. Purpose of the Listening Session

    At the listening session, the DOT will receive the public's 
feedback on the following four issues.
    Because demand for the TIFIA program now exceeds budgetary 
resources, the DOT recently announced the suspension of the program's 
open application process and the return to periodic fixed-date 
solicitations that will establish a competitive group of projects to be 
evaluated against program objectives.
    Additionally, the DOT provided new language clarifying its use of 
the TIFIA selection criteria, incorporating explicit consideration of 
these policy objectives: livability, economic competitiveness, safety, 
sustainability, and state of good repair.
    In light of constrained resources vis-[agrave]-vis demand for TIFIA 
assistance, the DOT requested comments regarding the potential 
implementation of a pilot program to accept, from qualified borrowers, 
an upfront fee payment to offset the entire subsidy cost of TIFIA 
credit assistance.
    Finally, the DOT will utilize this listening session to seek 
feedback from stakeholders regarding potential changes to strengthen 
and/or expand the TIFIA program.
    The DOT is committed to providing all interested parties an 
opportunity to discuss perspectives on pertinent issues that could 
affect the TIFIA program. While the NOFA published on December 3, 2009, 
sought public comment on specific issues related to TIFIA, the DOT 
recognizes that it would be useful to obtain additional information on 
a broader range of TIFIA-related subjects. Notwithstanding this 
listening session, however, individuals are encouraged to submit 
official comments to the docket. Participants are discouraged from 
reading prepared statements.

III. Meeting Information

    The meeting will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., e.t., on 
Friday, February 12, 2010, in the West Atrium of the U.S. Department of 
Transportation located at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 
20590. Because access to the DOT building is controlled, all visitors 
must sign in with the security office located at the west building 
entrance, present valid picture identification, be escorted, and wear a 
visitor's badge at all times while in the building.
    Due to security procedures and space limitations, individuals who 
wish to attend the listening session must pre-register online by no 
later than 5 p.m., e.t., on Monday, February 8, 2010, to gain 
admittance to the meeting. Interested participants must register 
through the following link http://www.housmanandassociates.com/usdot/. 
Anyone having difficulties registering online should contact Oscar 
Bedolla at TIFIACredit@dot.gov, (202)366-0638, for assistance with the 
online registration. All participants must be registered online. The 
first 200 participants to register will be granted entrance to the 
listening session. No formal presentations by participants will be 
permitted.
    Notwithstanding this session, individuals who wish to submit formal 
written comments to the docket are encouraged to follow the 
instructions provided in the original NOFA issued on December 3, 2009, 
at 74 FR 63497 prior to the closing date of March 1, 2010.

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 601-609; 49 CFR 1.48(b)(6); 23 CFR Part 
180; 49 CFR Part 80; 49 CFR Part 261; 49 CFR Part 640.

    Issued on: January 26, 2010.
Victor M. Mendez,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2010-1966 Filed 1-29-10; 8:45 am]
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