As part of the complicated funding swaps BART staff arranged with regional and state transportation planners to proceed with the Oakland Airport Connector following the loss of $70 million in federal stimulus dollars due to civil rights deficiencies, the transit operator was hoping to get a federal loan with a low interest rate and a favorable interest payment schedule.
Unfortunately for OAC proponents, as reported recently in Project Finance Magazine (subscription needed), the US DOT announced its Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans for FY 2010-11 and the OAC was not among the projects selected. BART had applied for $105 million from the feds for the $484 million project.
Because BART has enough cash on hand to proceed with preparations for construction and actual groundbreaking in early 2011 (versus the ceremonial event held last month) and because TIFIA loans can be applied for continuously, the agency was not particularly concerned with the news.
“Quite frankly we don’t need the money right now,” said BART spokesperson Linton Johnson, who explained that in BART’s experience TIFIA loans are prioritized for projects that urgently need them. He also pointed to Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) Peter Rogoff’s assurances that BART would get a $25 million New Starts grant when the feds accept its revised civil rights compliance . “This shouldn’t be an indication that we’re not eligible for it or that something is wrong.”