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Published on Friday, July 22, 2016

As FAST Act discussions conclude we await official recommendation to Governor

Congress enacted the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the “FAST Act,” in December. Following that, the Governor’s office convened a group of state and local representatives to make recommendations on how the funds should be distributed. Representing AWC was Councilmember Paul Roberts from Everett and our Immediate Past President. Also participating was current AWC President, Mayor Jim Restucci of Yakima representing the Yakima Council of Governments and Mayor John Marchione of Redmond, representing the Puget Sound Regional Council. See below for a picture of the meeting.

The FAST Act authorizes federal funding for transportation projects and programs for the next five years. 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. 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. The current split across all of the programs is 66 percent for the state and 34 percent for local governments. For several reasons, it is time to revisit this split.

Representatives of cities, counties and regional councils proposed increasing the amount of funding available to local governments because of a significant increase in the number of miles of local roads and highways that have been designated as part of the National Highway System. Increasing from 6 percent to 23 percent of the state’s overall system so designated, there are new responsibilities at the local level to maintain these facilities, yet no funding to do so. In addition, local interests pressed for additional funding to fix and maintain bridges and help clear fish passage barriers.

In the end, the Governor’s office, Washington State Secretary of Transportation, and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees all agreed that more local funding was appropriate. We are awaiting details of what that would look like and will be reviewing, commenting, and reporting back to you on what the recommendations to the Governor look like. He is responsible for proposing how the funds are allocated and legislators are responsible for appropriating them.

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