The US Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, has announced that the US Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau has made a 908 million USD loan available to DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) for the Silver Line Regional Rail Project under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) programme.
This is the first RRIF loan to close under the new administration. The loan is actually a refinancing of the same loan issued by the Bureau in December 2018. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, loan recipients have expressed an interest in refinancing to help address revenue losses caused by the global health crisis. The refinancing would see recipients get lower interest rates. The refinancing deal is estimated to save DART in the region of 190 million USD in interest costs.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing in clean transportation while improving access to good-paying jobs, and this loan is the latest example of that. There's no question that transit access to the rapidly growing Dallas suburbs needs to be expanded, and ensuring the new stations are accessible by walking, biking and wheelchairs will provide more options for residents and make it easier for people to choose more affordable and sustainable ways to get around. It is prudent to take advantage of historically low interest rates to help DART refinance this loan at a time when they, like many transit agencies around the country, continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.”
The loan will help fund the construction of the 26-mile double track commuter rail line between Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Shiloh Road in Plano, Texas. The Silver Line will connect to three existing DART lines, have ten stations and run through three counties and seven cities.
DART’s Interim President and CEO, David Leininger, said the reduced interest rates and the resulting cost savings would “play a crucial part in restoring DART’s long-term capital development capacity, which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Since December 2018 DART has made good progress on the project design and construction. All of the project’s key contracts have been awarded. DART hopes to open the Silver Line to passengers in March 2023.
The Build America Bureau was established under the Obama Administration and has to date issued 7.1 billion USD in financing through its RRIF credit programme to support rail projects across the United States.
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