Important developments in Puerto Rico’s transportation system
On February 25, 2016, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made an historic trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau to join Governor Alejandro Javier García Padilla and Puerto Rico Secretary of Transportation and Public Works Miguel Torres Díaz in signing an agreement that further strengthens the development of transportation infrastructure and promotes economic recovery in the Commonwealth.
This agreement provides federal technical assistance to ensure that Puerto Rican transportation officials are able to expeditiously access about $400 million in previously obligated federal funds for infrastructure projects that will create jobs and spur economic development. It also represents an important step in Puerto Rico’s plan to improve its billing procedures by increasing capacity for developing and sustaining best practices, such as using electronic funds transfer and reducing the time it takes to pay contractors.
Under the new agreement the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) would complete the billing process more expeditiously, as the federal government would now pay contractors directly, rather than having the PRHTA pay them and then wait to get reimbursed.
Further, the agreement permits the Federal Highway Administration to authorize the retroactive use of toll credits to be used for state matches, allowing PRHTA to maximize their access to federal funding. This will allow Puerto Rico to use roughly $756 million in toll credits that had not been claimed in years by the Commonwealth government. Under the memorandum of understanding, Puerto Rico will now be allowed to use these toll credits retroactively, but only to cover what the Commonwealth needs to match funding for existing projects.
Other CSG/ERC states regularly use toll credits to provide the match for highway and transit projects. Advocates have urged the use of toll credits for intercity passenger rail capital projects.
For more transportation policy committee activities contact:
CSG/ERC Transportation Policy Co-consultants:
Steve Hewitt and Don Hannon at Transportation-East@csg.org
Transportation Policy Newsletter March 4, 2016
“Keeping our Members informed”