On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act.” This 5-year bill authorized $305 billion ($281 billion in contract authority from the Highway Trust Fund) in funding and was passed 359–65 in the House of Representatives and 83–16 in the United States Senate. Funding for Metropolitan Planning over the 5 -year period was $1.7 billion under the Federal-Aid Highway Program and $564 million under the Public Transportation Program. Congress did not raise the federal gas tax to pay for the bill, but instead transferred funding from the General Fund of the US Treasury. The bill expires September 30, 2020. The FAST Act largely maintained program structures and funding shares between highways and transit. It included a provision that would allow for automatic adjustments and increased investments if Congress deposits additional revenue into the Highway Trust Fund.
Total Gross Funding Authorized in Billions
2015: $53,006.5 (Last year of MAP-21)
Metropolitan Transportation Planning
The FAST Act continued to support the cooperative, continuous, and comprehensive framework for making transportation investment decisions in metropolitan areas. The FAST Act clarified that Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) representation is selected by an MPO according to its bylaws/enabling statute. It also changed the selection criteria for MPO officials to— grant a representative of a transit provider authority equal to that of other MPO officials; and allow a representative of a transit provider to also represent a local community. It continued to encourage MPOs to consult with officials responsible for other types of planning activities and added activities such as tourism and the reduction of risk of natural disasters to the list. The FAST Act expanded the focus on the resiliency of the transportation system as well as activities to reduce storm water runoff from transportation infrastructure, and it newly requires strategies to reduce the vulnerability of existing transportation infrastructure to natural disasters. The FAST Act explicitly added public ports and certain private providers of transportation, including intercity bus operators and employer-based commuting programs to the list of interested parties that an MPO must provide with reasonable opportunity to comment on the transportation plan
The bill established a new National Freight Highway Program allocated by formula. The bill directed the Secretary to designate national fueling corridors for electric and hydrogen/propane/natural gas vehicles. It established a new National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau where all the USDOT innovative finance programs are housed. The bill also includes provision to expedite project delivery through the federal review process.
The bill renamed the Surface Transportation Program the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) and established into law that higher amounts of the program would be sub allocated by population, 51% growing to 55% of the overall program. The bill also merged the TAP program into the STBGP and established a set-aside program of $835 million in the first year to $850 million in the last two years.