The city of Bellevue has secured a $99.6 million federal loan for major transportation efforts.
The city secured the loan on June 9 under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) after a year-long process in applying for the loan.
The TIFIA loan, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau, will aid the construction of an additional five mobility projects to support projected growth in the BelRed, Downtown and Wilburton areas. This fiscal action supports the City Council’s two-year vision priorities regarding transportation plans.
The TIFIA loan will assist in the creation of a comprehensive BelRed street network, which will provide nearly 10 new lane miles of roadway, 25,000 linear feet of sidewalk, 21,000 linear feet of bike lanes, more than 5.5 acres of water quality treatment facilities and approximately 90 new or upgraded curb ramps and approximately 90 other pedestrian access improvements that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Securing this TIFIA loan really ramps up our efforts to transform the BelRed area into a connected hub that’s both an economic engine and a residential neighborhood,” said Mayor John Stokes. “I want to thank my fellow councilmembers for their financial savvy and vision for the future, and thank city staff for their work in helping to secure the loan.”
The development of the street network will coincide with Sound Transit’s East Link light rail construction, helping to improve mobility in Bellevue and take advantage of construction efficiencies. By linking these two major infrastructure build-outs, the city and the region will benefit from a robust transportation network that facilitates further private sector investment in the BelRed area. The transportation improvements will enhance the overall redevelopment plan, which includes open space upgrades, new trails, neighborhood parks, water quality improvements and other public infrastructure.
Each councilmember played a critical role in positioning the city to pursue a TIFIA loan, recognizing the advantages of this innovative loan and taking action to make it possible. The council adopted budget adjustments to fund phases of the projects in conjunction with the anticipated loan in June 2016; budgeted funds to pay the administrative costs of obtaining the loan in October 2016; and formally adopted a bond ordinance that authorized the loan in February.
The low-interest loan – at 2.86 percent – provides more favorable terms than traditional bonds. Bellevue will draw down loan disbursements as needed to pay costs of the project, but the city can wait until 2024 to begin paying principal of or interest on the loan. The loan will then be repaid over a 35-year period following substantial completion of the road projects, but no later than 2056. Bellevue is securing the loan through the issuance of a limited tax general obligation bond.
The loan will finance approximately one-third of the projects’ costs, and the city will fund the rest. Bellevue’s matching share of the funding is already included in the city’s Capital Investment Program budget.
The FAST Act – Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act – continued the TIFIA program and required the development of an expedited application process for secured loans such as the one acquired by Bellevue. For more information about the TIFIA program, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation website.