AASHTO News, 3 December 2015
WASHINGTON – Passage today of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act marks the first time in a decade that Congress has approved a long-term surface transportation authorization that gives state departments of transportation the certainty to plan and implement significant investments in the nation’s aging infrastructure.
Approved today by a vote of 83-16 in the Senate and 359-65 vote in the House, the FAST Act now heads to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it into law. It is the first long-term authorization since 2005’s SAFETEA-LU, which expired in 2009. Since then, Congress has used short-term extensions and 2012’s MAP-21 authorization – a two-year bill – to support the federal surface transportation program.
“It is a tremendous relief to know that with the FAST Act, state departments of transportation will have some reasonable long-term certainty regarding the levels of federal investments for surface transportation,” said Paul Trombino, AASHTO president and Iowa Department of Transportation director. “We have long said that states, which are the primary implementers of the federal program, need a long-term federal commitment in order to plan for and invest in the kind of transportation projects the nation needs now and well into the future to support our quality of life and economic prosperity.”
The FAST Act, which will provide approximately $300 billion over five years, continues to distribute more than 90 percent of federal highway funding to State DOTs through formulas and maintains the current Federal-aid Highway program structure. The FAST Act also includes important environmental streamlining provisions that have the potential to speed up project delivery, saving time and taxpayer money.
AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright thanked the Senate and House leadership and the transportation bill conferees for making this legislation a priority and negotiating a bi-partisan agreement.
“We also thank Senate EPW Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Boxer – as well as House T&I Chairman Schuster and Ranking Member DeFazio – and their respective committee staffs for their commitment to seeing a new authorization passed during this Congress,” said Wright. “We know that it was not always easy to see a path forward, but we believe the nation will benefit from the fruits of this legislation.”
More on the FAST Act is available at: fast.transportation.org.