As a transportation management 3PL, the United States Infrastructure and the evolution of and investment of our infrastructure is of great importance to us and our carrier partners. In order for our freight economy to stay healthy, it requires a stable infrastructure, specifically in the transportation sector. The below will inform you of a recent ACT passed by Congress towards improving our degrading and ailing infrastructure. It shows you in both visual form and text form. 

What is the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act?

Congress scored the first of what could be a series of bipartisan year-end victories late night on December 3rd, 2015 with the final passage of a $305 billion measure to fund roads, bridges, and rail lines known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or F.A.S.T. Act.

The five-year infrastructure bill is the longest reauthorization of federal transportation programs that Congress has approved in more than a decade, ending an era of stopgap bills and half-measures that left the Highway Trust Fund nearly broke and frustrated local governments and business groups. President Obama will sign the bill into law, as it fulfills his long-running push for lawmakers to pass an infrastructure bill even though it is significantly less than the $478 billion he sought in his own plan earlier this year.

Highlights of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act

The new federal highway funding legislation, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 4, 2015, provides long-term funding certainty for surface transportation projects and also contains a broader set of permit streamlining reforms. The changes will impact infrastructure projects serving multiple sectors, including renewable and conventional energy production, electricity transmission, pipelines, manufacturing, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource projects, broadband, pipelines and manufacturing. Other sectors may be added in the future.

What Are the Purpose and Key Reforms of the New NEPA Streamlining Legislation?

The new permit streamlining provisions contained in Title XLI of the FAST Act are based on the previously proposed Federal Permitting Improvement Act sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). The legislation responds to and builds on the permit streamlining project launched by the Obama Administration in 2012 under Executive Order 13,604. According to the bill sponsors, the new streamlining legislation “seeks to create a smarter, more transparent, better-managed process for government review and approval of major capital projects.”

According to an article in the Atlantic:

Perhaps the most important single provision in the 1,300-page bill had little to do with transportation. It was the renewal of the Export-Import Bank, the federal lending agency that Congress allowed to expire with its inaction over the summer. While relatively obscure to much of the public, the battle over the bank’s future had become a fierce fight within the Republican Party. Conservatives assailed it as a form of corporate welfare and crony capitalism that benefits giants like Boeing and G.E. that shouldn’t need government help. But along with most Democrats and under heavy pressure from business groups, moderate Republicans warned that its demise would cost jobs in their districts. Test votes in the House and Senate demonstrated that the Export-Import Bank maintained majority support, and in the end, Republican leaders did not object to its inclusion in the highway bill.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Infrastructure Bill: What It Means for Business

In recent years, American infrastructure has deteriorated rapidly. The Infographic below explains in visual great detail about how the bill might affect various aspects of the economy and business. Below the Infographic are some quick stats that match the Infographic, but if you prefer reading via quick bullet points, then that is for you. 

Fixing Americas Surface Transportation Act Infographic

Historical US Infrastructure Rank

The ASCE’s report card is bleak

KEY:

A = Exceptional
B = Good
C = Mediocre
D = Poor
F = Failing

Largely, there is a measure of no long-term reauthorizations of transportation spending.

Why? Let’s take a look. 

The Highway Trust Fund Deficit

Here comes the “F.A.S.T.” Act

Congress passes a $305 billion bill to fund roads, bridges, and rail lines. (Senate Vote: 83-16). $61 billion a year for the next five years.

While it’s the longest reauthorization of transportation spending in a decade, is it enough?

In 2014 the Economic Policy Institute issued a report outlining the effects of three tiers of transportation bills.

Largely affecting our future, including:

Let’s take a look at Several Scenarios

Scenarios range from $18-$250 billion annually.

Scenario 1:

Scenario 2:

Scenario 3:

All Three Options Would Yield Immediate Economic Boosts

Option 1:

Option 2:

Option 3:

Employment:

All three options create jobs that are disproportionately male, Latino, high-earning, and skewed away from young workers.

Male/Female

Latino/non-Latino

Under 25 Adults/Over

Jobs in bottom wage quintile/Above

Economy:

Option 3–the most aggressive policy–would increase productivity growth by .3% annually.

That’s equal to half of productivity acceleration in the US Economy between 1999-2005, one of the most prosperous periods in American history.

Focus on water/sewage and passenger transport sectors would help many of the largest offenders.

Cost to economy per year from lagging infrastructure:

[type, cost]

As well as help save American infrastructure, life blood of the American economy from WWII to the 1990’s.

ROADS

World Rank: #16

32% Poor or Mediocre Condition.

Per Year:

Unfunded Gap

BRIDGES

Per Year:

25% of US bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

TRANSIT

Per Year:

Unfunded Gap

$1 trillion economic cost by 2040.

Accessibility Gap

RAIL

World Rank: 15

Freight (Private)

Congestion Cost to Economy:

Passenger (Public)

Ridership:

Northeast Corridor Ridership:

Next 15 Years

AIRPORT

World Rank: #5

Cost to Economy:

Per Year:

Increased infrastructure spending is a key component to making America great again.

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