The bipartisan Congressional approval of the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) and the release of Hilary Clinton’s infrastructure proposal make this week a busy one indeed.
After numerous short-term transportation bill patches and long hours of negotiating, Congress has finally approved a five-year, $305 billion highway, transit and railway authorization bill that President Obama is expected to sign today.
The FAST Act reaches beyond funding highways, as it also provides for our nation’s bridges, transit, rail lines, freight and ports. The bill also includes the first grant program guaranteeing financing for large-scale freight projects that could help loosen a freight bottleneck in Chicago or construct a rail-freight tunnel in New York Harbor.
American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) President and CEO Kurt Nangle said he is pleased by “the broad eligibility of seaports for infrastructure grants and other financing in this bill,” and was encouraged that the FAST Act recognizes the importance of seaports and freight network to the nation’s economy, job creation and international competitiveness. “For the first time we have dedicated funding for multimodal freight projects,” said Nangle.
Many states are expressing their excitement to be able to start funding projects with the FAST Act’s provision. Pennsylvania is planning to fund much-needed bridge repairs, counties in Florida are planning to complete numerous road projects, and Nebraska will now be able to tend to hundreds of bridges and roads that need repairs.
In addition to the FAST Act, Hilary Clinton also released her proposal for infrastructure spending, calling for $275 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, rails, airports and other sectors. Because our nation’s infrastructure investment needs are so high, the Clinton proposal is a promising step in the right direction.
ASCE is pleased that Congress has agreed on a long-term surface transportation bill that will provide our nation with the increased funding we need to invest in our infrastructure.