Perhaps the most notable part of the last federal transportation bill was a significant expansion of a federal loan program called TIFIA. In essence, the program uses the federal government’s credit to provide favorable loans for transportation projects in the United States.
If Measure J had passed, Metro was hoping to use TIFIA loans to accelerate projects and then pay back the loans with future Measure J revenues. But J lost very narrowly at the polls, so Metro is now pursuing a TIFIA loan to help pay for the first phase of the Westside Subway Extension to La Cienega Boulevard and the Regional Connector.
The TIFIA loans would not be used to accelerate either of those projects. The TIFIA loans, however, could prove to be better than other loans or bonds the agency was planning to use to help finance both projects.
One other thing worth noting: It was lobbying by Metro Board Members and then Metro Boar Chair Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that helped get the TIFIA program expanded as part of the America Fast Forward program. Metro will likely be seeking another expansion of that in the next transportation bill and putting TIFIA loans to good use now sends a clear message to Congress that these programs are important.