December 2, 2011

Denver's P3 commuter rail project receives TIFIA loan

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) received a federal loan for up to $280 million to advance construction on the 30-mile Eagle P3 commuter rail project, which will significantly expand transportation choices in the greater Denver area.

The project is a two-pronged effort. The western segment of Eagle P3, known as the Gold Line, will serve the suburbs of Arvada and Wheat Ridge. The East Line will run from Denver's historic Union Station nearly 23 miles east to Denver International Airport and will connect to existing light rail and bus service. Both lines are under construction and roughly 4,700 construction-related jobs are expected to be generated by the work.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which provides credit assistance for infrastructure projects, is the source of the loan to RTD. This funding boost is in addition to a $1 billion federal funding agreement for the project signed in August by Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) Peter Rogoff.

The RTD is the first transit agency in the nation to successfully pursue a comprehensive public-private partnership, or P3, that draws on a mix of federal loans and grants and private investment to move major capital transit projects in the region forward. The partnership encompasses all phases of design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance.

RTD will use the TIFIA loan to fund a portion of its contribution to the project and will begin drawing on the funds in 2013. In addition to FTA's contribution to the project, a consortium of private companies, known as the Denver Transit Partners, is responsible for financing around 24% of the project through tax-exempt private-activity bonds issued by RTD, equity contributions and other means.

The entire project should be completed in 2016. The new railcars slated for use on the commuter line will be assembled in the U.S. and will consist of at least 60% U.S.-made components, consistent with the FTA's Buy America requirements.

Together, the Eagle P3 project and Denver Union Station's ongoing renovation are part of RTD's far-reaching FasTracks program - a voter-approved, multiyear, multibillion-dollar transit expansion program covering 140 miles of rail and bus corridors that will help Denver to successfully manage growth and compete for business for years to come.

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