FHWA Site Highlights Revenue, Finance Options for Major Projects
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established its Office of Innovative Program Delivery in 2008 to provide tools, expertise, and financing to help the transportation community develop innovative strategies for delivering complex infrastructure projects. In a time of declining revenues and increasing fiscal requirements, State and local transportation agencies need the capacity to evaluate financing, revenue, and delivery options at each stage of project development.
The program's Web site serves as the primary tool for sharing information. "Our goal is to make publications, analytical tools, and other resources available to the people making the decisions about finance and revenue at the State and local levels," says Regina McElroy, director of the Office of Innovative Program Delivery. "Our office serves as a reliable source of information to help our partners deliver transportation projects in the public interest."
Sophisticated Design, Easy Navigation
The site features sections devoted to each of the five key program areas:
- Project delivery, which covers financial planning, project management, and statutory requirements
- Project finance, which focuses on alternative financing instruments
- Public-private partnerships, which are alternative procurement and payment models
- The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which provides credit assistance for major projects
- Revenue, which addresses generating revenue from transportation projects
Each program area's page provides background information; details on relevant tools, programs, and legislation; and technical resources, including planning guides, finance tools, and data sets. Information pertaining to major projects and financial tools such as private activity bonds and grant anticipation revenue vehicles is updated frequently, and the TIFIA interest rate is updated daily.
Although it houses more than 600 files, the portal's navigation is intuitive, and information is easy to find. Users can access the five program areas from any page on the portal, as well as project profiles, fact sheets, a glossary, a calendar, resources, and information about the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
The home page features a comprehensive section entitled "How the IPD Office Does Business," as well as a "Find it Fast" section containing major topics of interest to users, news items, job postings, and a feedback forum.
Useful Tools and Resources
Jennifer Mayer, senior program advisor in the Office of Innovative Program Delivery, highlights the 16 fact sheets -- one- or two-page page summaries of the office's programs and technical tools -- among the Web site's most valuable features. "For example," she says, "staffers in a State department of transportation whose legislature is considering passing public-private partnership legislation could use a fact sheet to learn how these partnerships work and what the potential benefits of such an arrangement might be. In the past, to access information about public-private partnerships, people would typically have to attend conferences that can cost thousands of dollars. Our resources, which can tell users about both the advantages and the limitations of specific financial approaches, are cost-free, bias-free, and readily available."
Similarly, a local government official interested in learning more about applying for TIFIA could take a look at the TIFIA fact sheet. "We expect the TIFIA part of the Web site to be one of the most frequently used in upcoming months," McElroy says. "MAP-21 increases TIFIA to $1 billion per year, so people in the transportation community will definitely be consulting our Web site to learn about it."
Other useful information on the site includes detailed profiles of more than 50 projects that have benefited from the office's tools and programs. The profiles feature information on project locations, costs, sponsors, and construction schedules.
The portal is a valuable tool for FHWA, State, and local staff, as well as policymakers, researchers, and other transportation professionals. As a researcher with the Brookings Institution who uses the site regularly observes, the portal provides "a comprehensive foundation from which to dive deeper into specific funding and financing strategies."
For more information, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd.
Kate Sullivan is a contributing editor for Public Roads.