President Obama signed the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act yesterday, making the first long term transportation bill in a decade official. There are some big wins for local governments within the new law, which is worth approximately $305 billion. A good, comprehensive 13 page summary of the law can be found here.
The biggest win for local communities, quite simply, is that it is a 5 year arrangement and local leaders will not have to wonder what will happen every six months under more extensions. The League had been advocating first and foremost for a bill that expands beyond the next fiscal year to enable more long-term planning for transportation projects. Specifically, there are many other significant victories being highlighted in the bill, which spans 1300 pages.
The Surface Transportation Program is now the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and increases the amount allocated to local leaders from 50% to 55% over the length of the bill and gives locals greater flexibility in how the funds are spent.
The Surface Transportation Block Grant Program would now house the Transportation Alternatives Program, and is proposed to be increased from $835 million to $850 million. And the bill gives Metropolitan Planning Organizations additional flexibility in how to spend their funds.
Transit Oriented Development would be eligible for the TIFIA program and the minimum project size threshold would be lowered to $10 million, expanding the program significantly for smaller projects.
The Michigan delegation was mostly supportive with both Senators voting yes and twelve of the fourteen Representatives voting for the bill as well. Congressmen Amash and Huizenga were the two no votes.
Summer Minnick is the Director of External Relations and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-908-0301.