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Published on Friday, January 29, 2016

Passage of FAST Act provides opportunity to revisit distribution of federal transportation funds

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the “FAST Act.” This means that federal funding for transportation projects and programs is secure for the next five years. It also means that the state has the opportunity to modify how funds in the various streams of money are distributed between the state and local governments. Washington should receive almost $3.6 billion in federal funds, starting with $687 million in 2016 and growing each year to $750 million by 2020. This is more funding than the state had previously anticipated.

With past federal funding legislation, the Governor has convened a group of relevant stakeholders to make recommendations on how the funds should be distributed. The current split across all of the programs is 66 percent for the state and 34 percent for local government. For several reasons, it is time to revisit that split:

  • Today 68 percent of road miles in the state are city streets and county roads. Cities and counties maintain nearly 55 percent of the state’s 7,300 plus bridges.
  • For the largest federal program focused on pavement and bridge restoration, 23 percent of eligible roads in Washington are local, yet under the state’s policy, locals get just 6 percent of these funds.
  • In the past, locals received about 50 percent of the state gas tax for transportation needs, now locals get less than 30 percent.

This document provides more detailed information about the Fast Act in Washington and why it is time for the split between state and local government to change.

Categories: Transportation
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