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Transportation Help is on the Way…

March 22nd, 2016 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Industry News, Skolnik Newsletter

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act.” It is the first law enacted in over ten years that provides long-term funding certainty for surface transportation, meaning States and local governments can move forward with critical transportation projects, like new highways and transit lines, with the confidence that they will have a Federal partner over the long term. Overall, the FAST Act largely maintains current program structures and funding shares between highways and transit, it is a down-payment for building a 21st century transportation system.

Below is a more detailed summary of some FAST Act provisions.

PROJECT DELIVERY: The FAST Act adopted a number of Administration proposals to further speed the permitting processes while still protecting environmental and historic treasures, as well as codifying the online system to track projects and interagency coordination processes.

FREIGHT: The FAST Act would establish both formula and discretionary grant programs to fund critical transportation projects that would benefit freight movements.

INNOVATIVE FINANCE BUREAU: The FAST Act establishes a new National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau within the Department to serve as a one-stop shop for state and local governments to receive federal funding, financing or technical assistance.

TIFIA: The FAST Act includes organizational changes that will provide an opportunity for important structural improvements with the potential to accelerate the delivery of innovative finance projects.

SAFETY: The FAST Act includes authority sought by the Administration to prohibit rental car companies from knowingly renting vehicles that are subject to safety recalls.  It also increased maximum fines against non-compliant auto manufactures from $35 million to $105 million. The law also will help bolster the Department’s safety oversight of transit agencies and streamlines the Federal truck and bus safety grant programs, giving more flexibility to States to improve safety in these areas. However, we know the bill also took a number of steps backwards in terms of the Department’s ability to share data with the public and on the Department’s ability to exercise aggressive oversight over our regulated industries.

TRANSIT:  The FAST Act includes a number of positive provisions, including reinstating the popular bus discretionary grant program and strengthening the Buy America requirements that promote domestic manufacturing through vehicle and track purchases.

— See more here.

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