The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act provides funding for five years for federal highway and transit programs at increased funding levels. The Act does not increase the gas tax or create any new on-going revenue source for the Highway Trust Fund, but instead continues the trend of general fund transfers off set with non-transportation revenue, allowing the Act to be fully funded through the five year period. The Act calls for adjustments in authorized funding levels should Highway Trust Fund revenue increase or decrease beyond the projected annual income amounts.
The year-by-year funding levels:
|Highways||$37.798 B||$39.727 B||$40.771 B||$41.424 B||$42.359 B||$43.373 B|
|TIFIA||$ 1.00 B||$275 M||$275 M||$285 M||$300 M||$300 M|
|NSFHP (grants)||$800 M||$850 M||$900 M||$950 M||$1.00 B|
|Transit Formula||$8.595 B||$9.347 B||$9.733 B||$9.733 B||$9.939 B||$10.150 B|
|Transit Capital Grants||$2.12 B||$2.301 B||$2.301 B||$2.301 B||$2.301 B||$2.301 B|
The Act creates a new National Highway Freight Program funded at $1.26 billion per year distributed to states by formula for highway freight improvement projects. It also converts the Surface Transportation Program (STP) 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 percent to 55 percent over the life of the bill.
The Act continues to make improvements in the environmental review and planning process to expedite project delivery, including giving the U.S. Department of Transportation more authority to set schedules and deadlines. The Act also aligns environmental reviews for historic properties. In addition, the bill creates a pilot program that allows up to five states to substitute their own environmental laws and regulations for the National Environmental Policy Act (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 and includes an explanation about revisions in scope or other factors impacting project costs or overruns.
The 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 30 minute break requirements if they operate within a 100-mile driving radius.