WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held the hearing, “The Use of TIFIA and Innovative Financing in Improving Infrastructure to Enhance Safety, Mobility, and Economic Opportunity.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing on the TIFIA program at the Department of Transportation, which has been an important source of low-cost financing for dozens of critical projects across our country. In my home state of Delaware, we know just how important TIFIA financing can be. In fact, the state just closed on its first TIFIA loan just last year for a project on U.S. 301 that will make it easier for drivers to travel through our state, and it will also make our communities safer by taking large trucks off our smaller, local streets. Our state will repay that $211 million loan with toll revenues and other state transportation funds.

“The US 301 project has a total construction cost of over $400 million, which is more than three times as much funding as Delaware receives annually from the Federal Highways formula programs. Without this loan, the US 301 project could never have been completed. The TIFIA loan helped to leverage other bonds and state funding for the project, and it provided a lower interest rate and beneficial repayment terms that helped the state take on such a large project.

“Across the country, the story is the same – TIFIA is a critical component of a funding package for large projects that helps to leverage non-Federal funding, including state, local, and private dollars. It’s important to recognize, though, TIFIA is not the solution for all types of projects, and there are certain types of projects that have not received loans through TIFIA. TIFIA has provided loans for just 64 projects total since it was authorized in 1998. The vast majority of these projects have ranged in total cost from approximately $200 million to $3 billion.

“The President has called on Congress to expand the TIFIA program in order to encourage more non-Federal investments. As we consider that call, we should acknowledge that TIFIA is a useful tool, but not a replacement for direct grants to States and cities. We also should look for opportunities to make TIFIA available for a wider range of projects. That includes smaller projects, as well as major multi-billion dollar investments that have the potential to transform regional economies.

“The FAST Act expanded eligibility for small and rural projects and for projects to build transit-oriented developments. However, to date, none of these project types have received TIFIA loans. I look forward to working with the Chairman and the other members of the Committee on proposals to expand and broaden this program, and I look forward to hearing the testimony and suggestions for doing so from our panel of witnesses today.