Project Will Improve Safety for Oklahomans in Seven Counties
Washington – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that its Build America Bureau has provided a $45 million low-interest loan to the Oklahoma Capital Improvement Authority (OCIA), on behalf of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to improve rural road safety. By providing Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans and other financing, the Bureau helps communities expedite infrastructure projects and reduce project costs.
“A disproportionate share of traffic crashes occurs on rural roads due to a lack of shoulders and outdated infrastructure, often resulting in severe injuries and loss of life,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “This project will invest $45 million to improve and update rural roads, making travel safer for communities across Oklahoma.”
In Oklahoma, 38 percent of serious and fatal crashes occur on rural roads with no shoulders. The Rural Two-Lane Advancement and Management Plan (RAAMP) Phase 2 Project will enhance 29 miles of rural roads by adding eight-foot shoulders, rehabilitating and resurfacing roads, and extending and widening bridges. The projects are in Atoka, Cherokee, Grady, Lincoln, Major, Pottawatomie, and Washita counties in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is taking advantage of the Bureau’s Rural Project Initiative, which offers rural borrowers loans of up to 49 percent of eligible project costs (vs. the customary 33 percent), as well as locking in a low interest rate at half the Treasury rate. This is the second loan for RAAMP secured by ODOT, with the first $41.55 million financed in June for 27 miles of roadway improvements.
“The Rural Project Initiative is a great opportunity for rural communities like those in Oklahoma to improve their infrastructure,” said Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “Oklahoma’s innovative financing approach is helping to deliver these overdue improvements at a lower cost and most importantly, is saving lives through delivering safety enhancements years faster. Other communities can benefit from this approach as well.”
The use of the TIFIA loan in Oklahoma results in significant cost savings and safety benefits through accelerated project delivery. An independent analysis conducted by the Build America Center at the University of Maryland reveals that the shoulder improvement program, which traditionally would take 12 years to complete, will be shortened to just three years. This expedited delivery made possible by the TIFIA loan will yield substantial advantages, including a $44 million reduction in crash costs over a 10-year period and a remarkable reduction of $29 million in project costs. The findings underscore the tangible and transformative impact of TIFIA financing, not only in expediting project timelines but also in delivering substantial cost savings and ensuring enhanced safety outcomes for the state of Oklahoma.
“The department has eagerly pursued Rural TIFIA loans as they provide an additional financial vehicle necessary to drive safety improvements such as the RAAMP program, while also helping limit the effects of inflation,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz. “This loan benefits projects in seven counties but the impact will be more widespread as additional needed projects will now advance in our construction plan. Having a robust, on-the-shelf design program allows us to leverage these opportunities and take advantage of extremely desirable interest rates that stretch available funding. Having the highest severity and fatality rates in the state, updating rural highways with safety devices adds up to life-saving benefits for the traveling public. This program, strongly supported by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, helps us deliver on our promise to improve conditions in rural areas.”
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 USDOT to serve as the point of coordination for states, municipalities, private partners, and other project sponsors seeking Federal financing.
To date, the DOT has closed more than $39 billion in TIFIA financings, supporting more than $133.8 billion in infrastructure investment across the country.