WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 07, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — After numerous stopgap measures used over the past several years to merely keep transportation funding afloat, a bipartisan agreement for the long-stalled transportation and infrastructure bill passed the House and Senate yesterday and is on its way to the President to be signed into law. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will invest $281 billion in local communities across the country over the next five years, boosting Florida’s share of the Federal Highway Funding by more than $890 million.
“We need construction jobs, investments and a transportation system worthy of our growing and dynamic community. The FAST Act provides a surface transportation authorization with the greatest funding increase for federal road, bridge and transit programs since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14), who supported the measure and pressed for the higher amount of funding that was included in the FAST Act.
U.S. Rep. Castor has been sounding the alarm about the dire needs of infrastructure and transportation in Tampa Bay over the past few years. U.S. Rep. Castor gathered input and pressed for a robust and long-term investment in transportation. She criticized an earlier version of the House measure that was woefully inadequate and insufficient to meet the competitive needs of Tampa Bay and other local communities.
“FAST Act will provide $12.8 billion more than the previously passed House version of the bill. In addition, it includes a critical provision to allow for automatic adjustments and increased infrastructure investment if more money flows in to the Highway Trust Fund,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “While not perfect, FAST Act will provide revenue and certainty to help Tampa Bay and Florida grow. This investment will create the good-paying jobs we need and drive commerce at home.”
Certainty: The five-year reauthorization is guaranteed; therefore, all five years are paid for. In addition, FAST Act will increase the percentage of funds within the Surface Transportation Program that flow directly to local regions (instead of to states) from 50 to 55 percent.
Local transit: FAST Act will provide HART, PSTA and other transit leaders a total of $3.7 billion over five years in bus funding – a 75 percent increase over funding levels they currently receive.
Multi-Modal: More funding for transportation alternative programs, such as pedestrian walkways, including a new grant program to ensure cyclist and pedestrian safety – critical for Tampa Bay, which is ranked as one of America’s least pedestrian-friendly areas.
Innovation: $95 million to states to experiment with innovative ways to fund infrastructure improvements, including Vehicle Miles Traveled mechanisms.
Buy America: FAST Act will strengthen Buy America requirements to maximize American job creation and for the first time will dedicate funding for freight projects, which will boost commerce and strengthen our economic competitiveness. FAST Act requirements will raise the domestic content threshold of transit buses and rail cars from 60 to 70 percent to maximize American job creation.