On Dec. 4, 2015, President Obama has signed into Law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, aka the FAST Act — the first long-term federal transportation funding bill in a decade. The big-picture news for us is, funding for biking and walking has been preserved, even if capped over the life of the bill. According to People For Bikes:
“The approval of the FAST Act is a victory for bicycling because it grows funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects to $835 million annually for the first two years and $850 million annually for the last three years, over the life of the five-year authorization.”
This is an increase over the current $820 million. Rails to Trails Conservancy notes that the new Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) remains similar to its predecessor, Transportation Enhancements; and that the new Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Investment Act (TIFIA) may provide new funding opportunities for trails and active transportation networks. The Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to School remain included in TAP.
But the most important aspect of the FAST Act may be the certainty it provides:
“It’s been over a decade since Congress passed a long term bill. Getting a bill longer than a few years has been the number one ask for state and local governments, and transportation stakeholders across the board. This gives some certainty of funding, allowing states to plan and implement long-term transportation projects. This is an important piece for biking as well. We know that over the years, investment in biking and walking facilities has dipped in between long-term reauthorization bills. (You can see those dips in 1998, 2005 and 2014, all years when reauthorization bills were delayed.)”
Please read the rest, from Caron Whittaker at the League of American Bicyclists.