Congress passed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act on December 3 and the bill was quickly signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 4. With its passage, the FAST Act creates a national transportation funding roadmap through the end of federal fiscal year (FY) 2020.
With this news, what will the FAST Act mean for transportation agencies and professionals in Tennessee? While it may still be too soon to determine the impact of the new law on every individual program and project, most major program areas funded in the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act are continued in the FAST Act with level or moderately-increased funding. Total Highway Trust Fund spending authority increases from $50.8 billion in FY 2015 to $53.7 billion in FY 2016 and grows to $58.7 billion in FY2020. Transportation spending from the nation's general fund increases from $3.5 billion in FY 2015 to $4.3 billion in FY 2016 and climbs to $5.1 billion by FY 2020. In total, FAST authorizes five-year spending total of $304.7 billion at an annual average of $60.9 billion. Funding levels by program area are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1: FAST Spending Authorization by Program Area (Source: AASHTO)
|Program Category||FY 2015||5-Year Avg., FY 2016-2020||Total, FY 2016-2020|
|National Highway Performance Program||$21,908||$ 23,280||$116,399|
|Surface Transportation Block Grant Program||$10,077||$ 11,876||$ 54,048|
|Highway Safety Improvement Program||$ 2,192||$ 2,317||$ 11,585|
|Railway-Highway Grade Crossings Program||$ 220||$ 235||$ 1,175|
|Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program||$ 2,267||$ 2,405||$ 12,023|
|Metropolitan Planning Program||$ 314||$ 343||$ 1,717|
|National Highway Freight Program||n/a||$ 1,249||$ 6,247|
|Surface Transportation Block Grant Program Set-Aside (Formerly Transportation Alternatives Program)||$ 820||$ 844||$ 4,220|
|Total, Apportioned Programs (HTF)||$37,798||$ 33,010||$165,051|
|Total, Other Programs (HTF)||$ 3,197||$ 3,552||$ 17,758|
|Total, Other Programs (GF)||$ 30||$ 212||$ 1,062|
|Total, Federal-aid Highway Program (HTF and GF)||$41,025||$ 45,250||$226,252|
|Total, Apportioned Programs (HTF)||$ 8,595||$ 9,781||$ 48,904|
|Total, Other Programs (GF)||$ 193||$ 140||$ 700|
|Capital Investment Grants (GF)||$ 1,907||$ 2,302||$ 11,509|
|Total, Federal Transit Program (HTF and GF)||$10,695||$ 12,223||$ 61,113|
|Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (HTF)||$ 572||$ 645||$ 3,224|
|National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (HTF)||$ 680||$ 747||$ 3,735|
|Total, Highway Safety Program (HTF)||$ 1,252||$ 1,392||$ 6,959|
|PASSENGER RAIL (GF)||$ 1,390||$ 2,071||$ 10,355|
|GRAND TOTAL (HTF)||$50,842||$ 56,211||$281,053|
|GRAND TOTAL (HTF and GF)||$54,362||$ 60,936||$304,679|
|Notes: All items are shown in millions of dollars; HTF = Highway Trust Fund; GF = General Fund|
Table 2: Tennessee's Annual Highway Apportionments (Source: USDOT)
Within these totals are several items of interest for local agencies. The Surface Transportation Program (STP) continues with increased funding as the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, Metropolitan Planning Program, and Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP, now as a setaside within the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program) continue. Apportioned transit program funding levels are increased by the FAST Act. Finally, increases in funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will likely create additional funding opportunities for state and local law enforcement agencies.
The FAST Act increases the amount of transportation funding coming back to the state of Tennessee. In FY 2015, Tennessee's apportioned total stood at approximately $815 million. This amount will increase to $857 in FY 2016 and will increase annually to reach almost $936 million in FY 2020 (a five-year average of $895 million per year). This means that the state's federal transportation funding will total approximately $4.48 billion over the next 5 years.
With these numbers are several items of relevance to local agencies. Remember that this list is only a sample of changes to federal transportation policies. State and federal agencies are still evaluating the impact of the FAST Act on existing programs.
1. "2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act: A Comprehensive Analysis," American Road and Transportation Builders Association, December 2015.
2. "AASHTO Summary of the New Surface Transportation Bill: Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act," American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, December 16, 2015.
3. "Capitol Hill Update: FAST Act Beneficial to Counties," NACE News, National Association of County Engineers, December 2015.
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