The FAST Act Includes Unprecedented Freight Investment, Providing $10.8 billion in Funding
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (December 3, 2015) – The Florida Ports Council applauds U.S. House and Senate for passing the FAST Act, which includes significant freight funding and much-needed federal multimodal freight policy. The five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act funds a freight-specific competitive grant program, the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, at $4.5 billion over five years, and a freight formula program, the National Highway Freight Program, at $6.3 billion over five years.
“We’re elated to see the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” Paul Anderson, chairman of the Florida Ports Council, and president and CEO of Port Tampa Bay, said. “We’re extremely pleased to see strong, concrete support for dedicated freight project funding, and this is a pivotal moment in the freight moving industry, where not only ports, but the entire domestic freight transportation system will benefit, be improved and enabled to prosper, thus giving the U.S. a stronger edge as a global trade leader. We thank Congress and our many industry partners, including the American Association of Port Authorities, the Coalition for American’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, and the Florida Ports Council for their unwavering support,” he said.
The FAST Act’s Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program distributes funds to projects that improve or enhance freight infrastructure through a competitive grant approach. The program provides up to $500 million in funding for projects that improve freight mobility. Florida seaports and other transportation modes are eligible to apply for funding through this program. The FAST Act also provides $6.3 billion, over five years, to a formula program. States are eligible to use funds to enhance freight mobility on the national highway freight network.
“Over the past ten years, the Florida Ports Council has actively fought for a multimodal approach to federal transportation funding. Goods come in and go out through our seaports, but they must move over an efficient network to reach their destination. The FAST Act recognizes that it is the transportation system and the stability of long-term project funding that are critical to our nation’s future success, stated Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.”
H.R. 22 (the FAST Act) includes the following provisions:
- Establishes a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, a freight-specific competitive grant program, funded at $4.5 billion over five years.
- The Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program provides a $500 million flex spending cap for multimodal projects. Highway-grade separation and at grade crossing projects do not count against the $500 million cap.
- The program has broad applicant eligibility, including States, MPOs representing areas with a population of more than 200,000, local units of government, special purpose districts or public authority with a transportation function, including a port authority, and federal land management agencies.
- The minimum project threshold is $100 million; the final program retains the 10 percent set-aside for projects that do not meet this $100 million threshold.
- The program has a minimum grant award of $25 million, except in the case of grants made to projects under the $100 million threshold – the minimum grant in the small project set-aside is $5 million
- Congress has oversight of final project selections, and should they disagree with the list of selections provided by the Secretary of Transportation, they may enact a joint resolution rejecting the awards en bloc.
- Establishes a National Highway Freight Program, a freight formula program, funded at $6.3 billion, over five years. Funds apportioned based on current apportionment data; use of funds dictated by percentage of miles a state has on the Primary Highway Freight System, compared to total number of miles on the Primary Highway Freight System.
- Establishes a multimodal freight policy.
- Establishes a multimodal freight network.
- Calls for a multimodal National Freight Strategic Plan, to be developed within two years of bill passage.
- State Freight Advisory Committees continue to be encouraged.
- State Freight Plans are required by states receiving formula funding.