After years of advocating for a long-term federal transportation bill that would fund projects around the country, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership can cross another item off our advocacy agenda; the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law by President Obama earlier this month. The first long-term transportation bill passed by Congress in 10 years, the FAST Act allocates $305 billion over five years for surface transportation re-authorization.
Emerging on December 2nd from the House-Senate Conference Committee tasked with resolving differences between the surface transportation bills passed earlier this year by the House and Senate, the legislation was approved by both chambers of Congress on December 3rd. The President turned the Act into law on December 4th. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “After hundreds of Congressional meetings, two bus tours, visits to 43 states, and so much uncertainty – and 36 short term extensions – it has been a long and bumpy ride to a long-term transportation bill. It’s not perfect, and there is still more left to do, but it reflects a bipartisan compromise I always knew was possible.”
The FAST Act mostly maintains current program structures and funding shares between highways and transit. The law also reforms to many Federal transportation programs, including streamlining the approval process for new transportation projects, providing new safety tools, and establishing new programs to advance critical freight projects. A summary of the act can be found here.
The Partnership’s President & CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen sees the FAST Act as a critical piece in addressing infrastructure needs in Buffalo Niagara and beyond. “This is the first long-term national transportation spending package in a decade and it bodes well for our members in the logistics and transportation industry,” said Gallagher-Cohen. “The bulk of the package would be devoted to highway projects to help improve infrastructure in areas such as Buffalo Niagara.”