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Falling Forward: A Guide to the FAST Act
In 2015, Congress adopted their first long-term surface transportation law in more than a decade. Known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the bill provides federal transportation policy and funding for five years (FY2016-2020). Though the bill will provide a level of funding certainty through 2020, to accomplish this feat, Congress essentially killed the concept of a trust fund for transportation by transferring $70 billion in general taxpayer funds into the highway trust fund, offset by accounting maneuvers and budget gimmicks.
While there were a few positive changes, the FAST Act doubled down on the status quo of federal transportation policy and failed to make virtually any of the changes so urgently needed by our rapidly urbanizing and changing country. For example, the bill is virtually silent on the issue of emerging tech-enabled mobility options or other coming innovations, provides no increase in local control over funding — continuing to defer almost all authority to states — and fails to move the ball forward on performance measures after the first steps made by MAP-21 in 2012, among other shortcomings or omissions.
There were also a few notable changes (positive and negative) made in the FAST Act, and we’ll explore the shortcomings and opportunities presented by the law in further detail in this guide.
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