FAST Act Legislation
The FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act is a $305 billion national transportation funding package spanning a five-year period, beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and extending to FY 2020, and replacing MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century). The FAST Act is the main funding source for highway, transit, rail, and bicycle/pedestrian projects across the U.S. The Act also promotes safety related to motor carriers, hazardous materials, and highway travel, and funds research and technology to improve the safety and efficiency of our transportation network. Performance management, the goal of which is to fund transportation projects that support national performance goals, was introduced under MAP-21 and has been continued under the FAST Act.
While many of the provisions in MAP-21 are still included in the FAST ACT, this new transportation legislation features a variety of new items and updates. With regard to facilitating efficient freight movement in the U.S., the FAST Act includes the requirement that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) create the National Highway Freight Network. Additionally, the new National Highway Freight Program provides approximately $1.2 billion annually to states to promote efficient freight mobility along the National Highway Freight Network. Also regarding freight, the availability of new FASTLANE grants, a $4.5 billion, five-year competitive program, helps to direct funds to highway, port, rail, and intermodal highway and freight projects deemed nationally or regionally significant.
The FAST Act eliminates the Surface Transportation Program (STP), instead replacing it with the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program, which provides an annual average of $11.7 billion to states and localities to utilize for highway projects, public bridges, transit capital projects, public bus facilities and terminals, and non-motorized transportation facilities. The Transportation Alternatives (TA) program has been eliminated and instead lumped into the STBG program as a set-aside. This program funds recreational trails, Safe Routes to Schools, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and various other community improvements. Another change the FAST Act ushers in is accommodation of Complete Streets by requiring the Secretary of Transportation to encourage states and MPOs to embrace road design standards that accommodate all users (vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists, etc.), requiring that state DOTs consider access for all modes and users when designing and building roads that are part of the National Highway System, enabling localities to adopt their own design guidelines and other relevant requirements.