By Michael Fickes
FAST ACT IMPACT
The FAST Act has provided $11 billion to build a freight transportation network. Connecting seaports to highways is a key part of that effort.
In 2015, Congress enacted the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Observers say that the measure is of vital importance to the freight industry.
Just as the Interstate Highway Act provided long-term funding for the construction of a vast network of highways across the nation, the FAST Act is providing funding for transportation projects of all kinds. This funding includes just under $11 billion dedicated to constructing freight transportation facilities.
Spending will occur in two categories. The first category will provide $4.5 billion for discretionary grants for Projects of Highway and Freight Significance. In this category, only $500 million can be spent on multimodal projects – such as those important to ports.
The second category will fund freight. The National Highway Freight Program will make grants totaling $6.3 billion over a period of five years.
The FAST Act also simplified federal loan programs as well as regulations with the goal of making it easier to apply for and acquire funding for complex transportation projects.
Within six months of the passage of the FAST Act, the states had identified 6,202 freight projects and $259 billion in project costs – this, according to “The State of Freight II – Implementing the FAST Act and Beyond,” which was published in November 2016 by AAPA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
A number of FAST grants will benefit U.S. seaports, in the form of grants via the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE). The FASTLANE program was established in the FAST Act to fund critical freight and highway projects across the country, and there has been one round of grants with the FASTLANE program to date….