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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $13 Million Loan for Operations and Maintenance Facility in San Luis Obispo, California

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

First loan approved under the Department’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Rural Project Initiative

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau has provided a $13.08 million loan to the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in California.  This is the first loan approved under the Department’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Rural Project Initiative (RPI) initiated and launched by Secretary Chao.

“This $13.08 million federal investment reflects the President’s continued emphasis on rural infrastructure and will provide residents in the San Luis Obispo area with better access to jobs, healthcare, and other services,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The San Luis Obispo RTA manages several local and express fixed-route transit lines, as well as several paratransit and dial-a-ride services throughout San Luis Obispo County.  The RTA’s current administration, operations, and bus maintenance facility has become inadequate to efficiently support the RTA’s fleet of more than 90 vehicles.  The RTA decided to construct a facility large enough to accommodate their current vehicle fleet and allow room for future expansion.  Once complete, the project will provide the RTA with a 28,650 square-foot facility on 6.44-acres of land – a facility three times larger than the current space.

The Department launched the RPI program to assist rural communities in overcoming financial barriers that slow infrastructure investment in rural America.  Under the RPI, an eligible borrower can receive a loan of up to 49% of eligible project costs at half of the prevailing U.S. Treasury rate, and while funding is available, the Department will cover the cost of its advisor for the loan, which is typically a fee charged to applicants. 

Last month, Secretary Chao announced the Applicant Toolkit (Toolkit) for the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative, one of the latest efforts by the Department and the Trump Administration to improve rural access to federal grant funds.  The Toolkit provides user-friendly information and resources to enhance rural applicants’ familiarity with the Department’s discretionary grant programs and the funding process.

Secretary Chao announced the ROUTES Initiative at the annual meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in St. Louis, Missouri last October.  The initiative is led by the ROUTES Council, an internal deliberative body at the Department which identifies critical rural transportation concerns and coordinate efforts among the Department’s operating administrations.  

The Bureau, which administers the TIFIA credit program, was established as a “one-stop shop” to streamline credit opportunities while also providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operation.  The Bureau has the resources and full commitment to provide additional flexibility and financial assistance to transportation projects in regions impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency to minimize the negative effects and help them with quicker recovery from this crisis.  During Secretary Chao’s tenure at DOT, the Bureau has closed $7.9 billion in TIFIA financings, supporting more than $27.6 billion in infrastructure investment across the country.

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