The U.S. Department of Transportation provided to Congress last week the list of 18 recipients of the first annual round of FASTLANE grants. The FASTLANE program was authorized by the FAST Act to fund critical freight and highway projects of national or regional significance. The grants can be used for highway, port, freight rail and intermodal projects. The FAST Act authorized $4.5 billion in funding for the FASTLANE program for fiscal years 2016-2020, with 25 percent reserved for rural projects, and 10 percent for smaller projects. While this investment is a great kick-start for the 18 recipient projects, the application process calls attention to the need to increase investment in our infrastructure as $10 billion worth of projects were requested, while only about a tenth of that was able to be funded.
U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a statement saying:
“The demand for the FASTLANE program has already far exceeded expectations, receiving 212 applications for projects totaling roughly $10 billion, more than 10 times the available amount. This program is an important achievement of the FAST Act, and the response illustrates how critical freight and highway investments are to improving the movement of goods and reducing congestion.”
The Fast Act provides for five years of certainty on the federal level for transportation projects, and the FASTLANE Grant program exemplifies the benefits that can happen when we make the investment. However, long-term funding looms large, as Congress still needs to #FixTheTrustFund with a sustainable funding source.
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