FHWA Still Working to Implement FAST Act

The DOT agency is tracking its progress month by month. Last month, for example, NHTSA published an interim final rule updating compliance criteria for repeat intoxicated driver laws to reflect section 1414 of the act.

The Federal Highway Administration is tracking its progress month by month. Last month, for example, NHTSA published an interim final rule updating compliance criteria for repeat intoxicated driver laws to reflect section 1414 of the act, and nominations were due for the Emergency Route Working Group, which will advise the FHWA administrator on best practices for fast state approval of special permits for vehicles involved in emergency response and recovery efforts.

President Obama signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act last December; it is the first federal law in more than a decade to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment, authorizing $305 billion in fiscal years 2016-2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs.

FHWA has been working on implementing the law since its enactment, with these priorities in mind during the initial year of implementation:

  • Developing summary materials, including fact sheets and presentations, to ensure the public and highway stakeholders have key information on the FAST Act’s highway provisions
  • Getting funding to states, locals, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, 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 stakeholders' questions
  • Making progress on regulations related to the act

October 2016 activities included a memo from Thomas D. Everett, associate administrator for infrastructure, about provisions of the law that encourage additional flexibility in the design of transportation projects. Section 1404(b) of the act allows local jurisdictions to use a roadway design publication that is different from the roadway design publication used by the state in which the local jurisdiction is located for the design of a project on the NHS if specific conditions are met, and his memo said FHWA intends to incorporate the provisions of Section 1404 into the next significant revision of 23 CFR 625.

It also says FHWA recently revised a policy that reduced the number of controlling criteria from 13 to 10 for interstate highways, other freeways, and roadways with design speed ≥ 50 miles per hours and from 13 to 2 criteria on low-speed roadways, clarifying when design exceptions are needed and the documentation that is expected to support such requests.

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