Surface Transportation 5 year Reauthorization

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The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act provides funding authorization for five years at levels increasing a little more than 2 percent per year starting in FY 2016 through FY 2020. Congress did not create any new revenue sources for the Highway Trust Fund but instead continues the trend of general fund transfers off set with non transportation related revenues for the Act to be fully funded through the five year period. Highlights

Highlights

  • A new program was created - the National Highway Freight Program - is funded at $1.26 billion per year distributed to states by formula for highway freight improvement projects.
  • The Surface Transportation Program (STP) is converted to a block grant program, giving states more flexibility in the use of these funds but increasing the amount going to local governments from 50 to 55 percent.
  • Improvements in the environmental review and planning process will expedite project delivery, including giving US DOT more authority to set schedules and deadlines. Also, the Act creates a pilot program allowing up to five states to substitute their own environmental laws and regulations for NEPA review process if the state’s laws and regulations are at least as stringent as NEPA.
  • The Act creates a new requirement for states to provide an annual report on all projects over $25 million comparing the estimated cost at the beginning of the project with its final cost with an explanation about revisions in scope or other factors impacting project costs or overruns.
  • The FAST Act expands the current exemption to the hours of service rule for drivers of construction vehicles, allowing those operating within a 75-mile radius to restart the weekly driving limit after 24 hours of rest, rather than 34 hours, which is the standard for other drivers. Ready mix concrete delivery drivers are exempted from logging requirements and the 30 minute break requirements if they operate within a 100 mile driving radius.

Significance to CRSI Members

Certainty of funding allocations to state DOTs and grants for projects. Federal allocations should be used for transportation projects and not deferred to other state funding uses. Stay abreast of surface transportation pipeline of projects for business opportunities/marketing.

Utilizing Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) information, associations such as ARTBA, and interaction with AASHTO and other entities to stay engaged. Promote CRSI as expert resource on design/products/members.

Remaining involved with DC coalitions such as Highway Materials Group, Transportation Construction Coalition, NACA, others is important to maintaining CRSI presence and input. Staying engaged is necessary. The TCC annual Fly-in is a productive vehicle for staying connected on the issues, and with meeting Members of Congress and the Executive branch of government.

Maintaining working relationships on Capitol Hill with staff and Members of Congress is necessary—Congress will have to address a long-term funding stream for the Highway Trust Fund in upcoming sessions. In addition, contacts established working on MAP-21 and FAST Act can provide access for possible assistance/inquires going forward on other public policy issues.

Members may benefit from Hours of Service regulation relief contained in the Act.