FAST Act Signed Into Law
Fixing America's Surface Transportation
On December 4, after both houses of Congress overwhelmingly approved the bill, President Obama signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, also known as the FAST Act. This is the first long-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund since 2005.
On December 3, Congress passed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act. The bill then headed to the White House, where President Obama signed it into law late on December 4, just a few hours before the deadline set by the latest Highway Trust Fund extension.
The FAST Act provides approximately $300 billion in funding over five years, distributing more than 90 percent of federal funding to state departments of transportation. The act includes legislation preserving bicycle and pedestrian trails programs, and establishes a national Complete Streets policy.
While the federal gas tax provides a portion of the necessary revenue, a series of unrelated provisions fund the rest of the bill.
"It is a tremendous relief to know that with the FAST Act, state departments of transportation will have some reasonable long-term certainty regarding the levels of federal investments for surface transportation," said Paul Trombino, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials president and Iowa Department of Transportation director. "We have long said that states, which are the primary implementers of the federal program, need a long-term federal commitment in order to plan for and invest in the kind of transportation projects the nation needs now and well into the future to support our quality of life and economic prosperity."
"This bill is a major accomplishment for Congress, ASLA and the American people," said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. "It will provide our nation with the means to rebuild aging infrastructure, protect our environment and become more economically competitive. Landscape architects will play a critical role in this process."
While the American Society of Civil Engineers applauds the passage of a long-term bill, they caution that the act does not fix the highway trust fund. The bill does not provide a sustainable source of revenue to support the fund, and come 2021, when the FAST Act expires, it will experience a shortfall in funding once again.
The National Asphalt Pavement Association commends Congress for quickly passing the bill, getting it to the president's desk before the latest extension expired. The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association is especially pleased with three provisions passed specific to that industry.
Thanks to advocacy groups and infrastructure supporters, the bipartisan bill is the first long-term bill to pass since 2005.