Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Obama Signs FAST Act Into Law

By Mark Edward Nero

On Dec. 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law H.R. 22, also known as the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act),” $305 billion legislation that authorizes budgetary resources for surface transportation programs for fiscal years 2016-2020.

The US Senate and House of Representatives approved the bill just hours before President Obama signed it.

The FAST Act provides $6.3 billion for the new National Highway Freight Program, which will now provide dedicated formula funding to states for freight projects, including 1,400 miles of connections with ports and other intermodal facilities.

The legislation also funds $4.5 billion for the Nationally and Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, including $500 million for multi-modal freight projects and a $450 million ‘carve-out’ for projects ranging from $5 million to $100 million.

In a statement, Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) applauded the government’s actions.

“The FAST Act is a major achievement, and not just for seaports and the freight community,” he said. “Passenger mobility will also be improved through congestion relief with the FAST Act provisions that fund and promote more efficient goods movement mobility. These provisions will enhance our international competitiveness in the global economy.”

The legislation also converts the Surface Transportation Program (STP) to a block grant program, maximizing the flexibility of STP for state and local governments, and increases the amount of STP funding distributed to local governments from 50 percent to 55 percent over the life of the bill.

Additionally, the Act expands eligibility for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program by allowing states to use National Highway Performance Program, STP block grant and NSFHP funds to pay the subsidy and administrative costs associated with providing TIFIA credit assistance.