House and Senate transportation leaders have unveiled the 1,301-page Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five-year reauthorization agreement that combines elements of the House-passed Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act and the Senate’s Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act into a final bill to replace MAP-21 which expires at midnight tomorrow. The bipartisan conference report (H. Rept. 114-357), which can no longer be amended, is expected to pass the House today and will be taken up by the Senate shortly thereafter.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill next week following one last short-term extension which will likely be needed.
The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion over five years for highway infrastructure, public transit, highway and vehicle safety, freight, passenger rail, hazmat, research and technology programs, relying on $70 billion in General Fund transfers to the Highway Trust Fund with ‘pay-fors’ that include tapping the Federal Reserve surplus and selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The bill provides $281 billion in Highway Trust Fund contract authority through fiscal year 2020 and General Fund spending of $12 billion for transit capital investment grants, $10 billion for Amtrak, and $1 billion for vehicle safety programs.
Supported by major stakeholder groups, the five-year bill length will allow for a roughly 15 percent increase in highway spending and 18 percent increase in transit spending over five years. The bill also creates a new national freight program and establishes a first-ever Innovation Title combining research and technology deployment initiatives. A summary of the FAST Act is online here, the bill text is here, and a joint explanatory statement can be found here. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill’s budgetary impacts is online here.
The final bill includes a new Innovation Title (Title VI, the “Transportation for Tomorrow”) which includes new provisions to promote innovation and the use and deployment of ITS.
ITS America President and CEO Regina Hopper issued a statement highlighting that the FAST Act “recognizes that intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are a critical component to making our nation’s surface transportation network safer and more efficient,” Hopper said.