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Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act"
Issued Notice of Apportionment of Federal-Aid Highway Program Funds
On January 8, FHWA got money out the door by distributing (via an apportionment notice) 92% of its FY16 FAST Act funding by formula to let states know what resources they have so they can put the formula dollars to use. On February 17, FHWA released supplementary funding tables to provide additional detail on this funding.
Developed (and Presented) Summary of FAST Act Highway Provisions
FHWA summarized (in PowerPoint format) the FAST Act’s highway provisions and made it publicly available. FHWA staff across the country presented this material to a wide range of audiences, including Division Offices who are on the front lines answering stakeholder questions.
Issued Initial FAST Act Guidance
FHWA began publishing guidance on FAST Act topics. One notable example was meeting the 60-day statutory deadline to issue guidance related to indexing the dollar level that triggers a "categorical exclusion" from some federal environmental review requirements for projects with limited federal assistance.
Posted Fact Sheets on FAST Act Highway Provisions
In February, FHWA posted nearly 30 fact sheets detailing the FAST Act’s highway programs and provisions. These fact sheets help inform the public, our state partners and others about new FAST Act initiatives and changes that it made to existing FHWA programs and policies.
Issued Guidance on the New National Highway Freight Program
FHWA acted quickly to issue guidance on the new National Highway Freight Program— the first federal highway formula program dedicated to freight projects.
Issued Guidance on FAST Act Truck Size and Weight Provisions
FHWA posted guidance to ensure accurate and consistent implementation of federal truck size and weight requirements.
Issued Safety Guidance and Q&As
FHWA issued guidance and answers to questions clarifying eligibility under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), a core Federal-aid program with the purpose of achieving a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including non-state-owned public roads and roads on tribal land.
Issued Guidance Memo on the National Highway System
In advance of a 90-day requirement under the FAST Act, FHWA issued a memo directing its Division Offices to work with their respective state departments of transportation that request assistance in reviewing classification of, and modifications to, certain roads on the National Highway System (NHS).
Issued Guidance on Other Key Highway Formula Programs
With the publication of guidance on the National Highway Performance Program, the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, and several aspects of the Highway Safety Improvement Program in March, FHWA issued guidance on 4 of the 6 large-scale, core highway formula programs in just over three months since the FAST Act became law.
Called for Applications for Two Competitive Grant Programs
FHWA requested applications for two new programs under the FAST Act.
The first is the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Initiative, which will fund cutting-edge transportation improvement technologies that will improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment. Applications are due by June 3, 2016.
The second is the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program, which will support state efforts to demonstrate innovative and alternative ways to fund surface transportation and to help sustain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Applications are due by May 20, 2016.
Issued Two Final Rules Related to Safety
FHWA issued two Final Rules related to highway safety: the Final Rule for the Highway Safety Improvement Program and the Final Rule for safety performance measures. Together, these regulations will improve data, foster transparency and accountability, and guide states and MPOs as they establish safety performance targets and put federal dollars to use to help reduce highway deaths and injuries, including those among people walking and bicycling. FHWA streamlined its rulemaking efforts by incorporating FAST Act changes into two ongoing rulemakings instead of undertaking new rulemakings.
Encouraged and Emphasized Efforts to Support Pollinators
In harmony with the FAST Act’s new emphasis on efforts to support bees and other pollinators, FHWA directed its Division Offices to share with their state partners FHWA’s newly-developed resources that, among other things, identify best management practices for managing roadside vegetation to reduce harm to pollinators, and to work with their state partners to promote efforts focused on expanding and improving pollinator habitat on transportation assets across the country.
Developed and Posted a Comprehensive Summary of the FAST Act Highway Provisions
FHWA drafted and released a comprehensive summary of highway-specific provisions in the FAST Act. This summary—almost 15 pages in length—offers the public and stakeholders a broad overview of the FAST Act’s key features, including discussions on how the FAST Act improves mobility on America’s highways, creates jobs and supports economic growth, accelerates project delivery, and promotes innovation.
Developed and Posted Additional Fact Sheets on FAST Act Highway Provisions
FHWA added to the count 5 additional fact sheets on FAST Act highway programs and provisions. These fact sheets seek to continue informing the public and our state partners on the FAST Act’s impacts on existing FHWA programs and policies. These fact sheets cover tolling and high-occupancy vehicles, design standards, intelligent transportation systems, performance management, and the statewide and nonmetropolitan planning process.
Developed and Issued Extensive Safety Guidance
On April 22, FHWA issued its comprehensive Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) implementation guidance. This guidance is designed to support the implementation of the Final Rule for the HSIP and the Final Rule for Safety Performance Management Measures that became effective on April 14, 2016. This guidance–over 60 pages in length–provides states with the information needed to implement successfully this core FHWA program designed to achieve a significant reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads.
Developed Additional Guidance on the New National Highway Freight Program (NHFP)
FHWA created additional guidance to complement its already thorough implementation guidance on the new NHFP – the first federal highway formula program dedicated to freight projects. This additional guidance covers the designation of critical rural and urban freight corridors and includes 15 questions and answers, as well as templates that states or MPOs can use in the development of materials to comply with FAST Act requirements.
Issued Guidance on Three Finance Topics Under the FAST Act
FHWA’s Chief Financial Officer issued guidance on three finance-related topics under the FAST Act, including funding and apportionments, obligation limitation, and the transferability of apportioned funds between programs. Combined, these documents include over 20 questions and answers, and provide states and others with vital financial information on key FHWA programs such as the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG).
Developed and Issued Guidance on the Suballocation of Apportioned Federal-Aid Highway Program Funds
FHWA issued questions and answers on the FAST Act-required suballocation of annual state apportionment under the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program and the set-aside from the STBG for Transportation Alternatives to areas within states based on their relative share of the total population. This guidance will assist states and MPOs in understanding how these apportioned federal dollars are suballocated, and who makes the decisions on the use of suballocated funds.
Issued Guidance on Highway Research, Technology Deployment, and Education (RT&E)
FHWA issued guidance on Highway RT&E. This guidance provides transparency in how and when highway research funding is distributed, and it details the FAST Act’s impact on State Planning and Research funds, RT&E program funds, the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program, and other research activities.
Issued Cross-Modal Guidance on Efficient Environmental Reviews for Project Decisionmaking
FHWA collaborated with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop questions and answers on the applicability of the FAST Act’s changes to the Section 139 environmental review process to FHWA, FRA, and FTA projects.
Issued Comprehensive Guidance on the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside
FHWA developed and released comprehensive implementation guidance for the TA Set-Aside. This guidance provides states, MPOs, and the public with detailed information on the TA Set-Aside, including a thorough discussion of eligible projects, such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe routes to school projects, and community improvements.
Issued Guidance on Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads
FHWA’s Office of Federal Lands Highway issued guidance for the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) Program. This guidance details the FAST Act’s changes to the ERFO Program, which was established to assist federal agencies with the repair or reconstruction of tribal transportation and federal lands transportation facilities, and other federally owned roads open to public travel, found to have suffered serious damage by certain disasters.
Updated and Reissued Existing Guidance Related to Older Drivers and Pedestrians
FHWA updated and reissued existing guidance on the Highway Safety Improvement Program’s Special Rule for Older Drivers and Pedestrians, which was created by MAP-21 and continued under the FAST Act. Notably, this guidance clarifies the circumstances in which the Special Rule applies to states, and offers considerations for states in implementing the Special Rule to address increases in older driver and pedestrian fatal and serious injuries rates.
Issued Final Rule and Guidance Related to Categorical Exclusions Under NEPA
FHWA and FTA published a Final Rule amending FHWA and FTA categorical exclusions (CEs) for projects receiving limited federal assistance. In the Final Rule, FHWA simultaneously implemented a FAST Act requirement that FHWA revise its regulation on programmatic agreements for CEs, which allows state departments of transportation to make CE determinations under NEPA on FHWA’s behalf, and in turn, produces time savings in the project delivery process. FHWA separately issued guidance and a model programmatic CE agreement template to assist practitioners in drafting CE agreements that meet statutory and regulatory requirements.
Issued Implementation Guidance Related to Federal Lands Programs
FHWA issued implementation guidance on the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) and Federal Lands Planning Program (FLPP), providing states, locals, and FHWA’s federal partners with the information necessary to implement both programs successfully. FLAP provides funds to supplement state and local resources for public roads, transit systems, and other transportation facilities, with an emphasis on high-use recreational sites and economic generators. FLPP funds assist with transportation planning for federal lands and tribal transportation facilities consistent with statewide and metropolitan transportation planning procedures.
Issued Additional Guidance on the Highway Safety Improvement Program
FHWA issued additional questions and answers on the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the federal-aid highway program aimed at achieving a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. The added guidance discusses, among other topics, activities that are eligible for funding under HSIP if program requirements are met, including Safe Routes to School activities and projects to maintain minimum levels of retroreflectivity for traffic signs and pavement markings.
Issued Guidance on the Relinquishment of Park-and-Ride Lots
FHWA issued guidance for the new option for a state transportation agency to relinquish a park-and-ride lot facility to a local government agency for highway purposes. The guidance provides the laws, regulations, and process that apply when relinquishing such facilities.
Issued Notice of Funding Opportunity for Tribal Transportation Program Safety Funds
On July 18, FHWA issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing funding opportunity and requesting grant applications for the agency’s Tribal Transportation Program Safety Funds (TTPSF). The TTPSF, authorized within the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) under the FAST Act, is intended to prevent and reduce deaths or serious injuries in transportation-related crashes on tribal lands where statistics are consistently higher than the rest of the nation as a whole. Since TTPSF’s creation, FHWA has awarded $17.1 million to 336 Indian tribes for 337 projects. Applications for TTPSF must be submitted no later than September 16, 2016.
Issued Solicitation for Nominations of Alternative Fuel Corridors
On July 22, FHWA issued a notice inviting state and local officials to nominate national electric vehicle (EV) charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors to assist FHWA in designating such corridors under the FAST Act. Based on the criteria outlined in its solicitation, FHWA will designate alternative fuel corridors with the purpose of improving mobility of passenger and commercial vehicles that employ alternative fueling technologies across the U.S. Nominations must be received on or before August 22, 2016.
Issued Q&As on Increased Federal Share for Project-Level Innovation
On August 15, FHWA issued questions and answers on section 120(c)(3) of title 23, United States Code, which provides the option of an increased Federal share for projects using innovative project delivery methods. This provision, first established by MAP-21 and amended by the FAST Act, builds on FHWA's Every Day Counts initiative (EDC). EDC is designed to identify and deploy innovation aimed at shortening project delivery, enhancing the safety of our roadways, and protecting the environment. The increased Federal share for innovative techniques will incentivize use of such innovation to help deliver projects more efficiently and to deploy rapidly proven solutions that make a difference.
Issued Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding Opportunities Table
FHWA issued a table on August 12, 2016, highlighting potential eligibilities for pedestrian and bicycle projects under U.S. Department of Transportation surface transportation funding programs. This table provides stakeholders a consolidated view of opportunities to use transit, highway, and safety funds for a wide variety of bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Issued Interim Guidance Related to the Elimination of Barriers to Improve At-Risk Bridges
On August 17, 2016, FHWA issued guidance pertaining to section 1439 of the FAST Act, which temporarily authorizes, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the taking of nesting swallows between April 1 and August 31 for certain eligible bridge construction projects determined to be "at-risk". This guidance provides information regarding the required procedures for implementation of section 1439. The FHWA developed this guidance in collaboration with the Migratory Bird Program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Issued Additional Resources to Aid in Implementation of the Safety Performance Measures
In August, FHWA issued serious injury conversion tables, an MPO safety performance measures fact sheet, a safety performance targets timeline, and guidance providing resources and support for safety performance measures. These newly issued resources will aid stakeholders in implementation of the safety performance measures.
Public Meetings of Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Committee
From August 16-18, 2016, the first meetings of the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Committee were held in Sterling, Virginia. Please see FHWA’s announcement for more details.
Public Meetings of Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Committee
From September 13-15, 2016, the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Committee held meetings in Sterling, Virginia. Please see FHWA’s announcement for more details.
Tribal Transportation Program Safety Funds Applications
September 16, 2016, was the application deadline for FHWA’s Tribal Transportation Program Safety Funds (TTPSF). The FHWA will now evaluate applications and distribute the funds on a competitive basis. Please see FHWA’s Notice of Funding Opportunity for more details.
Emergency Route Working Group Nominations
Nominations for the Emergency Route Working Group (ERWG) were due on September 23, 2016. The ERWG will provide the Secretary of Transportation, through the Administrator of the FHWA, with advice and recommendations for the implementation of best practices for expeditious state approval of special permits for vehicles involved in emergency response and recovery.
Transfer and Sanction Programs
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published an interim final rule updating the compliance criteria for repeat intoxicated driver laws to reflect section 1414 of the FAST Act and to generally update and improve the clarity of the regulation. This regulation impacts the apportionment of highway funds.
Categorical Exclusion Assignment Program and Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program
On October 3, FHWA issued Questions and Answers to highlight the new statutory provisions in sections 1307 and 1308 of the FAST Act amending the Categorical Exclusion (CE) Assignment and Surface Transportation Project Delivery Programs (23 U.S.C. §§ 326 and 327, respectively).
Design Standards Guidance
On October 6, FHWA issued guidance to implement section 1404 of the FAST Act regarding Design Standards. Flexibility in the design process provides designers with the freedom to develop projects that meet the functional and operational characteristics of drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit in a way that fits their local context, maintains the desires of and the connections between communities, and is safe for travel. This design standards memorandum and Questions and Answers provide guidance regarding the implementation of provisions contained in the FAST Act that encourage additional flexibility in the design of transportation projects to meet the needs of all users and to improve communities.
Issued Guidance on State Freight Plans and State Freight Advisory Committees
On October 14, the Department of Transportation published guidance regarding State Freight Plans and State Freight Advisory Committees. This guidance implements the FAST Act provision requiring each State that receives funding under the National Highway Freight Program to develop a State Freight Plan that provides a comprehensive plan for the immediate and long-range planning activities and investments of the State with respect to freight and meets all the required plan contents listed in the Act. The guidance provides the minimum required elements that State Freight Plans must meet, provides a template that reflects those statutory requirements, and suggests other recommended elements that States may include in their State Freight Plans. It also provides suggestions for establishing State Freight Advisory Committees that will benefit State freight planning.
Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Committee Conducted Public Meetings
From October 18-20, 2016, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Committee held its third meeting.
Published Asset Management Final Rule
On October 24, 2016, FHWA issued the asset management final rule to address three new requirements established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21): State risk-based asset management plans to improve or preserve the condition of the assets and the performance of the National Highway System; FHWA-established minimum standards for States to use in developing and operating bridge and pavement management systems; and periodic evaluations to determine if reasonable alternatives exist to roads, highways, or bridges that repeatedly require repair and reconstruction activities. The rule also reflects the passage of the FAST Act, which added provisions on critical infrastructure for the National Highway Performance Program.
USDOT Requested Applications for $850 Million in FASTLANE Transportation Infrastructure Grants for Fiscal Year 2017
On October 28, 2016, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau is soliciting applications for up to $850 million in Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grants. This is the Department of Transportation's second call for applications for the FASTLANE program, which provides dedicated, discretionary funding for projects that address critical freight issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges. The deadline for submitting applications is December 15, 2016. The Department of Transportation will review all eligible applications submitted at http://www.grants.gov.
Comment Period Closed Regarding Programmatic Approaches to Project Delivery
On August 30, 2016, FHWA announced a new web site providing information and guidance on the use of programmatic approaches to project delivery in accordance with section 1421 of the FAST Act. The FHWA requested comments on what procedures, techniques, programmatic approaches, or best practices should be considered for inclusion on the web site. In addition, FHWA requested comment on any information resources that are readily available regarding practices and procedures that avoid unnecessary delays, minimize cost overruns, and ensure the effective use of Federal funds. The comment period closed on October 31, 2016, and FHWA is reviewing the comments received.
Comment Period Closed Regarding Assumption of Additional Authorities by States
On August 30, 2016, FHWA solicited feedback from States and other stakeholders on additional authorities to assume under title 23, including real estate acquisition and project design. Under section 1316 of the FAST Act, the Secretary must submit recommendations to Congress on legislation to permit assumption of additional authorities by States. The FAST Act specifically asks for recommendations in the areas of real estate acquisition and project design. The comment period closed on October 31, 2016, and FHWA is now assessing suggestions received for inclusion in a report it will submit to Congress.
Application Deadline for FASTLANE II Grants
The Department of Transportation currently is soliciting applications for a second round of Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grants. This program provides dedicated, discretionary funding for projects that address critical freight issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges. The Department of Transportation will review all eligible applications submitted by the December 15, 2016, application deadline http://www.grants.gov.
More Guidance Coming Soon
FHWA is working continuously to develop new FAST Act guidance or to update existing guidance where necessary to reflect FAST Act changes. Check back soon!
On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Pub. L. No. 114-94) into law—the first federal law in over a decade to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment. The FAST Act authorizes $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs. The FAST Act maintains our focus on safety, keeps intact the established structure of the various highway-related programs we manage, continues efforts to streamline project delivery and, for the first time, provides a dedicated source of federal dollars for freight projects. With the enactment of the FAST Act, states and local governments are now moving forward with critical transportation projects with the confidence that they will have a federal partner over the long term.
Since December, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been hitting the road toward fast and effective implementation of the FAST Act, and this website will be your one-stop shop for everything from fact sheets and funding notices to guidance, regulations and presentations.
We will add new information and regular updates as implementation progresses, and we invite you to come along for the ride. Visit us often to see our progress in 2016 by clicking on the signs above.
Some of FHWA’s priorities for the first year of FAST Act implementation include:
Getting funding in the hands of states, locals, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), tribes, and others who can put it to use throughout the country;
Issuing guidance to fill in the details of the new law and to answer stakeholder questions; and
Making progress on regulations related to the FAST Act.
For more information regarding the FAST Act, including provisions that impact other agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation, please visit the Department's FAST Act website.