(a) The Secretary shall assign weights as indicated to the following eight selection criteria in evaluating and selecting among eligible projects to receive credit assistance:
(1) The extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, in terms of generating economic benefits, supporting international commerce, or otherwise enhancing the national transportation system (20 percent);
(2) The creditworthiness of the project, including a determination by the Secretary that any financing for the project has appropriate security features, such as a rate covenant, to ensure repayment (12.5 percent);
(3) The extent to which such assistance would foster innovative public-private partnerships and attract private debt or equity investment (20 percent);
(4) The likelihood that such assistance would enable the project to proceed at an earlier date than the project would otherwise be able to proceed (12.5 percent);
(5) The extent to which the project uses new technologies, including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), that enhance the efficiency of the project (5 percent);
(6) The amount of budget authority required to fund the Federal credit instrument made available (5 percent);
(7) The extent to which the project helps maintain or protect the environment (20 percent); and
(8) The extent to which such assistance would reduce the contribution of Federal grant assistance to the project (5 percent).
(b) In addition, 23 U.S.C. 182(b)(2)(B) conditions a project's approval for credit assistance on receipt of a preliminary rating opinion letter indicating that the project's senior debt obligations have the potential to attain an investment-grade rating.
(c) The Secretary may also give preference to applications for loan guarantees rather than other forms of Federal credit assistance. This preference is consistent with Federal policy that, when Federal credit assistance is necessary to meet a Federal objective, loan guarantees should be favored over direct loans, unless attaining the Federal objective requires a subsidy, as defined by the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (2 U.S.C. 661 et seq.), deeper than can be provided by a loan guarantee.