Secretary Foxx announces the First Executive Director of the Build America Bureau

By Eric G Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

With only three weeks left on the job, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that Martin Klepper will join the USDOT Build America Bureau (Bureau) as the initial executive director. The Bureau is a newly created entity within the USDOT that streamlines access to federal credit and grant opportunities, while providing technical assistance to project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring. The Bureau will also help state and local governments develop and finance public-private partnership transactions (P3’s) for transportation facilities.

Whether that appointment stands after Trump's inauguration remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely he would make a change at that level. Instead, he might leave decisions to incoming Secretary of Transportation Elaine Cho, whose confirmation hearing could get controversial.

Klepper looks good on paper, and has vast experience. He is a senior partner in the Energy and Infrastructure Projects Group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, where he is known for developing, financing, acquiring and selling transportation, energy, and other large infrastructure projects in the United States and abroad. Over his career, he has closed more than 100 major transactions totaling more than $20 billion. Klepper has worked with both federal and state governments on energy and infrastructure financing matters, as well as with banks, underwriters, equity investors, multilateral lenders, and export credit agencies in various capacities. 

"We are pleased to have someone with Martin’s significant experience and expertise at the helm of the Bureau,” said Secretary Foxx. “Under his leadership, the Bureau will be a driving force in financing transportation projects across the country.” 

The Build America Bureau combines the following DOT programs: The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF), the Private Activity Bond (PAB) program, the Outreach and Project Development functions of the BATIC, and the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program.

The Build America Bureau has been successful thus far.

In September, the Department announced the selection of eighteen projects to receive $759 million in FASTLANE funding, leveraging $3.6 billion in funding from other federal, state, local, and private sources. The FASTLANE program provides dedicated, discretionary funding for projects that address critical freight issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges. It is also in line with the Department’s draft National Freight Strategic Plan released in October 2015, which looks at challenges and identifies strategies to address impediments to the efficient flow of goods throughout the nation.

Trump has made the status and condition of our infrastructure a priority in his pre-election campaign and has not backed away from that once he was elected.

“Across the country, there are sidelined projects that are essential to America’s cities and our transportation network, and leveraging a FASTLANE grant from the Build America Bureau can move many of these projects forward,” said Secretary Foxx. “FASTLANE grants give us an opportunity to identify and invest strategically in those projects that are critical to keeping our nation’s economic engine running.”

Since the beginning of the Build America series of initiatives in 2014, DOT’s Credit Programs have closed nearly $13 billion in financing for 24 projects with $31 billion in total project costs. 

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