Sign on to support the Bennet-Warner amendment

Senators will soon decide which amendments to include in their bill before moving to a vote on March 31st deadline. LOCUS strongly supports the Bennet-Warner Amendment (S. 1791), which will spur economic development along key transit corridors by bridging a financing gap to create more TOD projects.

Urge your Senators to support the bill: add your name to our national sign-on letter using the form below.

Dear Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe,

We commend the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for recognizing the urgent need to maintain and adequately fund America’s transportation network in S. 1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the Twenty-first Century Act (MAP-21). We, LOCUS, a national coalition of over 350 real estate developers, investors, and the undersigned strongly support the bi-partisan framework of the this important legislation and urge its final passage.

Particularly, we welcome the current modifications to TIFIA that would result in greater private-public partnerships that spur major economic development. Furthermore, we strongly urge your Committee to include the Bennett-Warner amendment (S.A. 1791), which will create a transit-oriented development provision in TIFIA with the goal to maximize the economic development potential around public infrastructure, specifically around public transportation. A similar provision was included in the House’s H.R. 7, American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act to ensure many of the transportation-related capital costs for transit oriented development, such as street improvements and walkways, which are often front loaded during the initial phase of the development, are eligible in TIFIA.

Today, there are multiple barriers to the expansion of transit-oriented development, including banks and bond markets reluctance to support these high infrastructure costs when repayment is often dependent on the success of the future phases of the development at an undetermined time in the future. The lack of financing can stall private sector investment that can not only improve the efficiency of the transit service but also allow major private sector development to occur.

In 2010, a Government Accountability Office report notes: “Some project sponsors and experts believe federal loans, loan guarantees, or credit enhancements could help bridge a financing gap. Several agency officials noted that the federal government could better promote sustainable economic development and transit-oriented development if it could help agencies overcome parking replacement challenges through targeted grants or loans.”

Provisions, such as these, make federal investments go even further by helping local leaders effectively leverage private investment in public infrastructure while increasing transit ridership and reducing operating costs of transit service.

Providing eligibility for the aforementioned transportation infrastructure capital cost will ensure credit enhancement advances infrastructure supporting transit-oriented development that often cannot obtain financing today. The country’s economy needs the 35% of the assets tied up in real estate and infrastructure, the largest asset class, to be re-engaged in the economy building the transit-oriented development the market wants and the private sector and local government has shown are willing to help pay for, becoming a more viable partner with the federal and state governments. The Bennett-Warner amendment (S.A. 1791) will help do that.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and your Committee to implement these recommendations into the final transportation re-authorization bill. For more information about the undersigned group of concerned business leaders, please contact Christopher Coes at (202) 207-3355 ext. 136 or ccoes@smartgrowthamerica.org

Sincerely,
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