“The bureau’s experts will partner with Austin officials to explore innovative approaches and best practices that can advance projects further into development and construction, so communities benefit sooner from the planned improvements,” Farajian said. “We are dealing with a large and complicated program of projects that will significantly enhance transportation mobility, resiliency, affordability, and safety. To deliver this program effectively and efficiently, we need to form a strong partnership, engage all stakeholders, use innovative approaches and best practices, and take advantage of all tools in our toolbox.”
This partnership will help move projects forward to deliver benefits to the growing region, with the goal of reconnecting communities, using technology to reduce traffic and pedestrian fatalities, and retaining vulnerable local businesses and residents.
“The Emerging Projects Agreement creates a great opportunity for Austin to try new ideas for accelerating mobility projects in a manner that also respects our community values,” Watson said. “I appreciate Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the Build America Bureau, and our Congressional delegation for their continued support and guidance. I hope this partnership will help us deliver critical infrastructure projects more efficiently for our taxpayers.”
Under the agreement, the Build America Bureau and City of Austin will explore opportunities for innovative project planning, procurement, financing, and delivery that could include using low-interest rate financing such as Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans, Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing, Private Activity Bonds, and technical assistance grants.
The preliminary list of projects that could benefit from this partnership include:
- Project Connect, a partnership between the City of Austin, Austin Transit Partnership, and Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority to expand and improve the public transportation network for the entire Central Texas region ($7.1 billion)
- Corridor Construction Program, involving the study, planning, design, and construction of transformative safety and mobility improvements on several significant roadways throughout Austin and Complete Communities infrastructure ($3.6 billion)
- Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) Expansion and Development Program ($4 billion)
- I-35 “Cap and Stitch” Program, involving new freeway caps and community stitches along eight miles of the corridor, as well as efforts to reconnect the community, prioritize equitable transit-oriented development, and address transportation-related environmental justice inequities ($963 million)
- Roadway Extensions, Connections, and Capacity Improvements Program to enhance safety ($250 million)
The bureau and Austin officials will hold a workshop to engage stakeholders, review the infrastructure needs, and help identify the potential innovative solutions. Both the City of Austin and USDOT consider infrastructure projects on their potential and in a manner that promotes equity and environmental justice.
The Build America Bureau advances investment in transportation infrastructure by lending federal funds to qualified borrowers; clearing roadblocks for credit worthy projects; and encouraging best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operations. The Bureau draws on expertise across DOT to serve as the point of coordination for states, municipalities, private partners, and other project sponsors seeking federal financing. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which President Biden signed in November 2021, expands eligibility for project financing and gives borrowers more flexibility, while protecting taxpayer resources.