In the mid-1990s, Congress authorized some innovative uses for federal transportation funds. To strengthen the impact of limited federal dollars, states were given the ability to use certain funds to create "banks" that could offer various types of financial assistance, much like those available at a private bank. The State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) Program offers a range of loans and credit options to help pay for eligible surface transportation projects that would otherwise go unfunded or experience substantial delays.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT's) SIB program, created in 1998, is a revolving loan program. Principal and interest payments made by loan recipients are returned to the “bank” so that funds can be made available to new applicants. Initially capitalized with $1.5 million in federal funds and $375,000 in state funds, the program currently has approximately $3 million in assets (current loans plus cash on hand).
Communities may apply for loans for transportation infrastructure improvements that help preserve, promote and encourage economic development and/or promote transportation efficiency, safety and mobility. SIB loans can be used in conjunction with other federal or state programs, or to finance an entire project. Projects that would be eligible for SIB funding include:
- Access improvements for vehicle traffic near commercial or industrial sites
- Improvements to roads serving brownfields or idle industrial sites
- Reconstruction of a bridge that connects downtown businesses to a state highway
- Addition of vehicle capacity to a road linking to an intermodal or transload facility
Transportation Efficiency, Safety and Mobility
- Installation of signal lights, turn lanes, and pedestrian walkways at a highway intersection
- Road modifications to accommodate truck movements near a distribution center
- Improvements to an interchange near a new commercial development
- Construction of parking facilities, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian walkways to better facilitate customer traffic near retail centers and tourist attractions
Eligible applicants include counties, cities, villages and towns, or select other government or non-profit organizations. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis and are disbursed soon after a loan is approved, provided sufficient funds are available. Interest rates are similar to or lower than market rates, and the loan term can extend up to 30 years.
To date, 22 SIB loans have been made to communities throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Dean M. Prestegaard
Economic Development Chief
Division of Transportation Investment Management