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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis July 26, 2013
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Foxx, Trottenberg Testify at Congressional Hearings

New DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Polly Trottenberg, DOT undersecretary for policy, testified on ­transportation funding issues last week before separate ­Congressional hearings.

Foxx Speaks to Senate ­Environment Committee
Foxx’s July 24 testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was his first appearance before Congress since he was sworn in as secretary. He testified at an oversight hearing held to examine improvements to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

“The TIFIA program’s flexible terms and low interest rates make it possible to obtain financing for critical projects that otherwise would have been delayed or deferred because of their size and complexity,” Foxx told the committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) as ranking member.

TIFIA, which Foxx called “a truly multimodal program,” began as part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century in 1998. The secretary reported on improvements to TIFIA included in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which funds the program at $1.7 billion over two years. The legislation also streamlined the loan application process to make it easier for cities and states to apply for the funding.

Foxx reported that TIFIA has extended more than $11 billion in credit assistance to support almost $44 billion in rail, bus, highway, and bridge projects since its founding. “This year we expect to obligate TIFIA funds for seven or more projects—a record number—and Fiscal Year 2014 promises to be even busier,” he said.

Arthur T. Leahy, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Metro, also testified at the hearing. “TIFIA helps our national economy expand,” he said. “TIFIA is a job generator, allowing projects to move from the drawing board to construction.” He noted the importance of the program in helping finance major improvements to the Los Angeles system.

Trottenberg Addresses T&I Subcommittee
On July 23, Trottenberg testified about Highway Trust Fund revenues and surface transportation programs before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. While the fund has worked well since its inception in 1956, she noted, over the past five years “investment needs and authorized funding levels have outpaced the available highway-user revenues,” meaning the fund “has come perilously close to being insolvent.”

She cited the President’s FY 2014 Mid-Session Review, which estimates $4.6 billion in the Highway Trust Fund and $300 million in the Mass Transit Account by the end of FY 2014. However, she said, “there is little doubt that another funding shortfall will soon be upon us.” She called on Congress to work with the Obama ­Administration “to find a bipartisan solution to this urgent challenge.”

Trottenberg emphasized: “The state of good repair of our public transit network is a matter of safety, efficiency, and reliability. If we do not make the tough decisions now, we will be compromising the safety of our ­riders and the strength of our economy as the movement of people and goods slows.”

Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI) chairs the subcommittee, with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) as ranking member.
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