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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 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) for federal highway funding provides National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting streamlining for infrastructure projects.
  • The FAST Act establishes an interagency council, requires permitting timetables and creates a public on-line “dashboard” to track projects. It also authorizes federal agencies in some instances to use environmental review documents prepared under state law to comply with NEPA.
  • The new legislation also includes litigation reforms that reduce the NEPA statute of limitations from six years to two years generally – and 150 days for transportation projects – and requires courts to consider the effects on jobs.

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

  • 2008: 7
  • 2009: 8
  • 2010: 15
  • 2011: 16
  • 2012: 14
  • 2013: 15
  • 2014: 12
  • 2015: 11

The ASCE’s report card is bleak


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

  • Energy: D+
  • Parks and Rec: C-
  • Roads: D
  • Ports: C
  • Bridges: C+
  • Wastewater: D
  • Levees: D-
  • Drinking Water: D
  • Schools: D
  • Transit: D
  • Rail: C+
  • Inland Waterways: D-
  • Aviation: D
  • Solid Waste: B-
  • Hazardous Waste: D
  • Dams: D
  • Cumulative GPA: D+

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

Why? Let’s take a look. 

The Highway Trust Fund Deficit

  • 1957-2007: $0
  • 2008: $8.8B
  • 2009: $7.1B
  • 2010: $9.7B
  • 2015: $15B

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:

  • overall economic activity
  • productivity
  • number and types of jobs
  • sustainability

Let’s take a look at Several Scenarios

Scenarios range from $18-$250 billion annually.

Scenario 1:

  • $30 billion annually over the next ten years
  • Cancelation of automatic across-the-board cuts from the sequester
  • Traditional infrastructure investments
  • Largest portions of funding:
    • Construction (9 out of 18 billion)

Scenario 2:

  • $92 billion annually over the next ten years
  • Centered on energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings
  • Creation of national “smart grid”
  • Largest portions of funding:
    • Construction (52/92 billion)
    • Smart Grid (40/92 billion)

Scenario 3:

  • $250 billion annually until 2020
  • Centered on traditional infrastructure (water treatment, distribution, and sewage systems)
  • Would nearly close the US “infrastructure deficit”
  • Largest portions of funding
    • Construction (83/250 billion)
    • Water and sewage systems (50/250)
    • Transit and ground passenger transport (35/250)

All Three Options Would Yield Immediate Economic Boosts

Option 1:

  • Cost: $18 billion
  • Yield: $29 billion increase in GDP and 216,000 new jobs by year one

Option 2:

  • Cost: $92 billion
  • Yield: $147 billion in GDP and 1.1 million new jobs by year one

Option 3:

  • Cost: $250 billion
  • Yield: $400 billion and 3 million net new jobs by year one


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


  • Option 1: 77/23
  • Option 2:80.4/19.6
  • Option 3: 74.1/25.9
  • Economy average: 50.2/49.8


  • Option 1: 15.4/84.6
  • Option 2: 16.2/83.8
  • Option 3: 14.3/85.7
  • Economy average: 13.2/86.8

Under 25 Adults/Over

  • Option 1: 9.3/80.7
  • Option 2: 9.5/80.5
  • Option 3: 7.8/82.2
  • Economy average: 13.2/86.8

Jobs in bottom wage quintile/Above

  • Option 1: 9.5/90.5
  • Option 2: 9.4/90.6
  • Option 3: 11.2/88.8
  • Economy average: 18.9/82.1


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]

  • Roads: $130 billion
  • Roads: $130 billion
  • Transit: $90 billion
  • Bridges: $76 billion
  • Rail: $24 billion

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


World Rank: #16

32% Poor or Mediocre Condition.

Per Year:

  • Cost to Economy $130B
  • Needed Investment $179B
  • Investment $91B
  • Shortfall $88B

Unfunded Gap

  • 2010: 48%
  • 2048: 54%


Per Year:

  • Cost to Economy $76B
  • Investment $20.5B
  • Actual Investment $12.8B
  • Shortfall $7.7

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


Per Year:

  • Cost to Economy $90B
  • Needed Investment $62.5B
  • Actual Investment $37.5B
  • Shortfall $25B 

Unfunded Gap

  • 2010: 40%
  • 2040: 55%

$1 trillion economic cost by 2040.

Accessibility Gap

  • Households With No Transit 45%
  • Rural Households With No Transit 86%


World Rank: 15

Freight (Private)

  • Investment 1980-2015: $600B
  • 40 cents / $1 Revenue

Congestion Cost to Economy:

  • 2013: $200B
  • 2040: $288B

Passenger (Public)


  • 2000: 16 million
  • 2014: 31 million
  • 50% up

Northeast Corridor Ridership:

  • 2014: 11.66 million
  • 2040: 43.5 million
  • 75% up

Next 15 Years

  • Needed Investment $15B
  • Actual Investment (+)$8B
  • Shortfall $7B


World Rank: #5

Cost to Economy:

  • 2007: $22B
  • 2012: $24B
  • 2020: $34B
  • 2040: $63B

Per Year:

  • Needed Investment $7.85B
  • Actual Investment $3.35B
  • Shortfall $4.3B

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