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Published on Friday, October 28, 2016

Governor receives recommendations on FAST Act revenue allocation

As we first reported in June, the federal passage of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the “FAST Act” will bring nearly $3.6 billion in federal transportation dollars to Washington State by 2020. This represents an average increase of approximately $64 million per year compared to the last federal authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

With this new authorization of federal transportation funding comes the opportunity to revisit how our state allocates some of those funds. The Governor’s Office convened a group of state legislators, agency staff, and local and tribal representatives to make recommendations on how the funds should be distributed. Representing AWC was our Immediate Past President, Everett Councilmember Paul Roberts. Current AWC President, Yakima Mayor Jim Restucci (representing the Yakima Council of Governments) and Redmond Mayor John Marchione (representing the Puget Sound Regional Council) also participated. This group provided their input during three meetings held over the summer. Based on that input, the Governor’s staff developed recommendations and forwarded them to the Governor on October 17. The recommendations include additional funds for cities and counties, but fall short of what local representatives on the advisory committee had advocated for.

Local bridge funding would be increased from $45 million to $60 million annually. We appreciate and support this recommendation.

On a less positive note, we were hoping for a more equitable share of National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funds to local jurisdictions. These are funds used to maintain streets and highways that are part of the National Highway System (NHS). In 2012 the NHS was expanded to include Principal Arterials, most of which are city streets. With that change, the portion of the NHS in our state that is owned by local governments increased to 23 percent. Under MAP-21, local governments were receiving only six percent of the NHPP funds. The memo from the Governor’s staff does include a recommendation to increase NHPP distributions to locals, but only up to 13 percent of the total. This is far short of the 23 percent local ownership of the National Highway System. In addition, that increase in funding would go to a new competitive grant program for which all segments of the NHS (including state-owned) would be eligible. Clearly not all of those funds would go to local governments.

It is still up to the Governor to make the final decision on allocating these funds. Given our ongoing concern, local government representatives from the advisory committee requested to meet directly with Governor Inslee. He has agreed and the meeting will take place in mid-December. We appreciate the Governor and his staff for convening the advisory panel and for arranging this follow-up meeting.

Categories: Transportation
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