The NCSL Blog


By Ben Husch

With the 115th Congress having gaveled into session last week and the 45th president set to take the oath of office later this month, one issue that many are focusing on is additional funding for surface transportation infrastructure.

dollar bill floating above roadIt’s important to remember, however, that just over a year ago, in December 2015, Congress enacted the first long-term surface transportation reauthorization in over a decade.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will provide just more than $300 billion through 2020. Over the last few weeks, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has unveiled a host of grants and loans, included as part of the FAST Act, with communities across the country aimed at supporting increased transit options.

  • On Dec. 20, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provided $75 million to support a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line connecting Provo and Orem, Utah.
  • On Dec. 22, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the availably of $2 billion in credit assistance for transit projects in the Seattle region. Within this $2 billion, Foxx noted that $615 million was being used to support a loan for Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Extension. Also on Dec. 22, FTA announced $75 million for a BRT project in San Francisco.
  • On Dec. 27, FTA announced $39 million for a separate BRT project in Reno, bringing the one week total for $200 million in support of BRT.
  • On Jan. 9, FTA announced a $1.07-billion-dollar grant to the Chicago Transit Authority to support the first phase of the Red and Purple Line Modernization Project. On the same day, Foxx announced $1.6 billion in federal grant funds and a loan agreement to support the Westside Purple Line Extension in the Los Angeles region. Of the $1.6 billion, $1.3 billion is grant funds while the remaining $300 million is a loan made possible through the TIFIA program.

While there are many reasons for additional investment in the numerous infrastructure systems across the country, the FAST Act was a signature accomplishment of the 114th Congress and will provide the certainty of federal support for surface transportation through the end of this decade.

Ben Husch is the director of NCSL's Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.