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Freight and the FAST Act
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorizes surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment during fiscal years 2016-2020. This legislation, signed into law in December 2015, placed a new emphasis on ensuring the safe, efficient, and reliable movement of freight. Specifically, the FAST Act:
- Establishes a National Multimodal Freight Policy that includes national goals to guide decision-making.
- Requires the Development of a National Freight Strategic Plan to implement the goals of the new National Multimodal Freight Policy. The National Freight Strategic Plan will address the conditions and performance of the multimodal freight system, identify strategies and best practices to improve intermodal connectivity and performance of the national freight system, and mitigate the impacts of freight movement on communities.
- Creates a new discretionary freight-focused grant program that will invest $4.5 billion over five years. This new program allows States, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), local governments, tribal governments, special purpose districts and public authorities (including port authorities), and other parties to apply for funding to complete projects that improve safety and hold the greatest promise to eliminate freight bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements.
- Establishes a National Highway Freight Program. The Act provides $6.3 billion in formula funds over five years for States to invest in freight projects on the National Highway Freight Network. Up to 10 percent of these funds may be used for intermodal projects.
- Encourages each State to establish a State freight advisory committee to consist of a representative cross-section of public and private freight stakeholders. The role of a State freight advisory committee is to:
- advise the State on freight-related priorities, issues, projects, and funding needs;
- serve as a forum for discussion for State transportation decisions affecting freight mobility;
- communicate and coordinate regional priorities with other organizations;
- promote the sharing of information between the private and public sectors on freight issues; and
- participate in the development of the freight plan of the State.
- Requires each State to develop a State freight plan in order to receive funding under the National Highway Freight Program. The State freight plan must comprehensively address the State’s freight planning activities and investments (both immediate and long-range). A State may develop its freight plan either separately from, or incorporated within, its statewide strategic long-range transportation plan. Among other requirements, a State freight plan must:
- cover a five-year forecast period;
- be fiscally constrained;
- include a “freight investment plan” with a list of priority projects; and
- describe how the State will invest and match its National Highway Freight Program funds.
- Supports an outcome-oriented, performance-based approach to the evaluation of proposed freight-related and other transportation projects by requiring the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin developing new tools (and improve existing tools) within one year of enactment
- Continues the requirement for DOT to provide Congress with a biennial report on the condition and performance of the National Highway Freight Network
Read more about the FAST ACT Freight Planning and Policy Provisions.