U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a $357 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to finance the construction of four new toll lanes on State Highway (SH) 288 in Houston, Texas.
“The TIFIA loan program is designed to help communities like Houston begin projects like this – a project that they would have otherwise had to wait years to start,” said Secretary Foxx. “The new tolls lanes will provide a more reliable commute in one of America’s most congested metro areas, and improve access to jobs and community services in neighborhoods there.”
He added that Beyond Traffic, a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) report issued last year, examined the challenges facing America's transportation infrastructure over the next three decades, such as rapidly growing population and increasing traffic. Gridlock nationwide, as in Houston, is expected to increase unless changes are made soon.
The SH 288 project involves building the new tolled lanes on more than 10 miles between US 59 and the Harris County line, including direct ramps to the Texas Medical Center, a new interchange with the Sam Houston Tollway and upgrades to the Loop 610 interchanges. The $357 million TIFIA loan will go to the Blueridge Transportation Group, the private company that will build and operate the tollway until 2068. Toll revenue will be used to repay the TIFIA loan.
SH 288 is a 60-mile highway between US 59 and the IH 45 interchange in downtown Houston, to the city of Freeport near the Gulf of Mexico and is a critical north-south transportation corridor for the Houston metro region, which extends through Harris County and Brazoria County.
The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Historically, each dollar of federal funding has provided up to $14 in TIFIA credit assistance and supported up to $40 in transportation infrastructure investment. To date in fiscal year 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation has financed $1.1 billion to support transportation infrastructure across the country.