As one of his first tasks after being sworn in yesterday, new U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a $421 million loan for the S.R. 91 Corridor Improvement Project in Southern California to increase capacity of the corridor and ease congestion on the Riverside County side of the highway. The loan is made possible through innovative federal financing assistance that partners with private-sector investments to deliver large transportation infrastructure projects.
“President Obama called on us to ‘Fix it First’ by investing in the roads and bridges that need work now,” said Foxx. “This project is a job creator that will improve mobility in the region and better connect Orange and Riverside counties.”
S.R. 91 will extend the existing two 91 Express Lanes and construct one general-purpose lane in each direction from the Orange County line to I-15 in Riverside County, a distance of approximately 8 miles. It also includes improvements to bridges and intersections and will add merge lanes for improved access.
“This project will relieve congestion and make travel easier for commuters and all area residents,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. “It will improve quality of life and strengthen the local economy.”
Currently, more than 280,000 vehicles per day use S.R. 91 Express Lanes—the only freeway connecting Riverside and Orange counties, which have a combined population of 5.3 million people. Population growth in western Riverside County and increased employment opportunities in Orange County have led to worse congestion on S.R. 91.
The DOT is providing the $422 million loan to the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) under its TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act) loan program. RCTC is advancing the project under an agreement with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to toll the new lanes for 50 years.
The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial nonfederal 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 33 projects turn $11.6 billion in DOT assistance into $44 billion in infrastructure investment across America. The recently enacted transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), transforms TIFIA into one of the largest transportation infrastructure loan program in history, making available up to $17 billion in credit assistance for critical infrastructure projects.