By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor ARTBA
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx officially launched the Department of Transportation’s “Build America Bureau” July 20, in an effort to streamline financing opportunities and grants for transportation infrastructure development projects across the country. Congress established the bureau through a provision in 2015’s “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.” As ARTBA has previously reported, the bureau’s creation was intended to consolidate the administration of several credit and loan programs, ease access to technical assistance and encourage innovative “best practices” in project planning, financing, delivery and monitoring.
“The roads and bridges we drive on connect us to the places we need to go… The health of our transportation system is directly related to our economic success, but the reality is that some of these assets are centuries old and in desperate need of repair, while the need for new infrastructure continues to grow,” Foxx said in his online Fast Lane blog.
The previous week, senior department officials briefed attendees at ARTBA’s Annual Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in Transportation Conference on the upcoming “grand opening” event, and previewed the new bureau’s functions.
In unveiling the bureau, Foxx noted the work of the department’s Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC), part of the Obama Administration’s Build America Investment Initiative. The Build America Bureau will absorb BATIC’s responsibilities, and is expected to provide a more comprehensive approach and customer-oriented infrastructure development support. It will serve as a single point of contact for working with U.S. DOT on infrastructure finance and development, regardless of mode. An outreach and development team will work with project sponsors to educate them on how to best combine DOT credit, funding and different project delivery approaches like P3s.
ARTBA staff attended the opening event and will provide more detailed information on the bureau’s initial activities in the future.