The FAST Act is a five-year, $305 billion legislation to improve the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit systems, and rail transportation.
This bill is an increase from the previous $244.1 billion Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act established in 2005. After news reports of the deteriorating transportation system and America’s roads receiving “D” grade on the most recent infrastructure report card, it was clear that improvements were necessary to improve this grade. This much-needed legislation is intended to strengthen transportation programs, provide long-term support, offer more flexibility for states and local governments, streamline project approval processes, and maintain a commitment to safety.
Some highlights of the FAST Act include:
- Increasing funding available for bridges off the National Highway System
- Streamlining the environmental review and permitting process
- Promoting private investment in the surface transportation system
- Expanding bus funding by 89% over the life of the bill
- Focusing funding on roadway safety and increasing the percentages states can spend on traditional safety improvements
These are just a few of the many aspects of the legislation. Visit the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee website for more details on the FAST Act.
While the new bill does provide improvements for surface transportation, some argue that there are many areas lacking in support. Criticisms include:
- Lack of transparency and accountability on the transportation selection process
- Does not give smaller communities any additional control over federal funding
- No increase in amount of money awarded to projects with the best merit
- Cuts funding to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) financing program
- Lack of support for future technologies, included self-driving cars and shared transportation
What do you think of the FAST Act? Let us know in the comments below.