On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), the first federal law in over 10 years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. The Fast Act replaces the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21) which was enacted on July 6, 2012. The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion over five years (fiscal years 2016-2020) for highway, public transportation, rail, research, technology, and safety programs. A major theme of the FAST Act is accelerated project delivery.
The legislation includes $225.2 billion from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for highway investment - a $20.2 billion increase over five years compared to maintaining FY 2015 funding levels. Nearly $11 billion will support two new programs designed to help states and local governments plan for and fund Freight Mobility Projects – the National Highway Freight Program and the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program.
Of the $225.2 billion total, $207.4 billion will be apportioned to the states by formula and includes a new Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP). The FAST Act provides that every state will see an increase of 5.1 percent increase in formula funds for FY 2016. This will be followed by annual increases of 2.1 to 2.4 percent between FY 2017 to FY 2020.
Other Highlights of the FAST Act:
- The FAST Act will provide the Commonwealth of Virginia with a 10 percent increase in average funding for the FY 2016-2020 period over FY 2015 funding.
- Local governments will receive slightly more money to invest in their priority projects with an increase in suballocated funds by 1 percent per year of the bill, up to 55 percent in FY 2020.
- The primary change in highway funding programs is the creation of the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) which represents the conversion of the Surface Transportation Program (STP).
- Creates a National Multimodal Freight Network, which includes a National Highway Freight Network composed of the 41,518 mile network defined by USDOT plus remaining remaining Interstate Highways and additional routes as defined by States and MPOs.
- Establishes a new formula-based National Highway Freight Program funded at $6.2 billion and a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects discretionary grant program funded at $4.5 billion.
- Public Transportation investment levels are set to increase 10.4 percent in 2016, followed by annual increases of 1.6 to 1.7 percent between FY 2017 and FY 2020.
- This is the first time that a rail title has been part of a major surface transportation authorization bill.
- The maximum fine that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can levy against an automaker that violate safety defect regulations is tripled from $35 million per violation to $105 million.
- Local entities using Federal dollars are now allowed to use a design guide that is different from their State DOT.
- The legislation expands the scope of the Innovative Pavement Research and Deployment Program. The Act includes an additional $5 million in funding by 2019 for the University Transportation Centers (UTC).
For more information on the Fast Act, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation webpage, the Federal Highway Administration webpage, and the Federal Transit Administration webpage.
Click here to view HRTPO Special Report #15 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).