(a) At the time a project sponsor submits an application, the DOT shall require a preliminary rating opinion letter. This letter is a conditional credit assessment from a nationally recognized credit rating agency that provides a preliminary indication of the project's overall creditworthiness and that specifically addresses the potential of the project's senior debt obligations (those obligations having a lien senior to that of the TIFIA credit instrument on the pledged security) to achieve an investment-grade rating.
(b) The full funding of a secured (direct) loan, loan guarantee, or line of credit shall be contingent on the assignment of an investment-grade rating by a nationally recognized bond rating agency to all project obligations that have a lien senior to that of the Federal credit instrument on the pledged security.
(c) Neither the preliminary rating opinion letter nor the formal credit rating should reflect the effect of bond insurance, unless that insurance provides credit enhancement that secures the TIFIA obligation.
(d) The project sponsor must annually provide, at no cost to the Federal Government, ongoing credit evaluations of the project and related debt obligations, including an annual assessment of the TIFIA credit instrument. The evaluations are to be performed by a nationally recognized credit rating agency and provided to the DOT throughout the life of the TIFIA credit instrument. In addition, the project sponsor will furnish the DOT with any other credit surveillance reports on the TIFIA-assisted project as soon as they are available.