FAST Act Brings Transportation Funding to States
Late in 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into the law. The five-year legislation enhances resources for surface transportation issues on a local level, while promoting the use of innovative technologies, such as infrastructure equipment that reduces congestion.
The act covers funding for all aspects of transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit systems, and passenger rail networks. Funding opportunities typically fall into six categories: public transportation, highway and vehicle safety, truck and bus safety, hazardous materials, and railroads.
The bill’s goal is to refocus on national priorities, reduce obstacles to funding, and make state spending more flexible. That means that for state and local governments, funding opportunities and solutions are likely much more attainable than many realize.
Recently, the Federal Highway Administration awarded nearly $54 million as part of the FAST Act in advanced transportation and congestion management technologies grants, detailed below.
The main areas of funding for public transportation services are light rail, commuter rail, bus, and paratransit. As a result of FAST Act, dedicated bus funding will increase by 89% over the life of the bill.
Project Example: An Automated Taxi-Shuttle System
South Carolina’s Greenville County was recently awarded $4 million for the deployment of an integrated Automated Taxi-Shuttle (A-Taxis) system for use on public roads. This project will be the first of its kind in the nation and will improve access to transportation for economically disadvantaged and mobility-impaired residents.
Highway & Motor Vehicle Safety
Improved spending flexibility allows states to spend more funds on safety needs unique to their state. The FAST Act also improves safety incentives for states (i.e. impaired driving countermeasures, distracted driving, and state graduated driver license incentive programs) to improve highway safety.
Project Example: Traffic Management Technology
Arizona’s Department of Transportation was recently awarded $6 million to improve safety and mobility in the Loop 101 corridor by launching technology to support integrated corridor management (ICM), public transportation, SMARTDriveSM, and other connected traffic management and real-time technologies.
Truck & Bus Safety
The FAST Act is focused on improving transparency by reforming the rule-making process for truck and bus safety. It incentivizes the adoption of safety technologies and awards grant priority to programs that train veterans for careers in the trucking industry.
Project Example: Truck Reservation System
The Virginia Port Authority was recently awarded more than $1.5 million for the design and deployment of a second-generation truck reservation system that builds on the successes of the Port of New York/New Jersey reservation system for access to container terminals.
The FAST Act improves intercity passenger rail programs and rail safety, and leverages innovative finance opportunities. Focus is also aimed on reducing costs and improving transparency in the Amtrak system.
Project Example: Integrated Freight System
The Alameda County Transportation Commission was recently awarded more than $9 million for the GoPort Freight ITS project, which is the nation’s first integration of Freight Community System and advanced ITS technology that includes port-specific TMC, traffic sensors, advanced traveler information, traffic messaging, mobile app trucking information, rail grade warnings, and terminal queue information.
The FAST Act aims to enhance emergency preparedness and response by granting states more spending power in training and planning funding. It also reforms underutilized grant programs to get more emergency response funds to states and Indian tribes. The FAST Act also improves trainings for Hazmat employees and crude-by-rail testing and protection requirements. The bill boosts transparency and streamlines processes to speed administrative time.
Finding Funding Opportunities
Beyond providing funding opportunities for new projects, the FAST Act also supports Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA, previously the Fast Lane Program) to advance pre-existing grants and align them with national goals for funding, and leverage non-federal funding, as well.
Regardless of awareness of funding opportunities, state and local governments all share a need for resources to support innovations in public infrastructure and surface transportation. Socrata is focused on supporting governments to achieve that funding and then evaluate the spending of that money through better data access and analysis.
Along with funding comes the need to track progress and spending. See how to create a a digital, accessible, modern DOT in Socrata’s downloadable guidebook.