FAST Act Equals Sustained Federal Funding for Oklahoma Transportation
OKLAHOMA, CITY, OK After years of uncertain federal funding for transportation, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is hailing the successful passage of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The FAST Act provides five years of federal funding and important policy reforms.
While the measure includes increased federal funding, the critical component for ODOT is five years of sustained funding for transportation.
More than $643 million in federal funding for Oklahoma's state and local roads and bridges in the first year, with incremental increases each subsequent year. This is an increase from about $612 million in annual funding received previously.
Nearly $50 million for public transit programs in the first year, with annual incremental increases in funding.
Reforms to the environmental review process to help projects move faster and more efficiently.
Provisions allowing existing legally placed church and service organization signs that meet certain standards to remain near highways.
Highway funding allocated for improvements to freight corridors.
States can compete for grant funding for major projects that are too large to complete with traditional funding sources.
Transportation officials including Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley and Executive Director Mike Patterson praised U.S. Senator James Inhofe's vision and continued leadership on a national level to see this bipartisan bill through the process and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin's role as a member of the conference committee.
"We are delighted and relieved because the funding and policy reforms included in the FAST Act will help ODOT continue delivering on its commitment to make transportation safer and more efficient for Oklahoma's people and businesses," Patterson said.
Since the previous long-term transportation bill expired in 2009, Congress has passed numerous short-term funding reauthorizations, which each provided only a few months of flat funding at a time. Even with some additional state funding for ODOT in recent years, uncertainty in both federal and state funding categories can always impact long-term transportation planning, since projects can take a decade to plan, design, and construct.
"This is a historic piece of legislation that will continue the progress made on highways and bridges in Oklahoma," Ridley said. "We are very grateful to Oklahoma's congressional delegation and especially Senator Inhofe for his steadfast support for transportation over the years and his hard work in shepherding this bill through Congress."
The certainty provided by the FAST Act will help ensure that ODOT will have funding necessary for projects already under construction and those scheduled in the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan. The current plan for Federal Fiscal Years 2016 through 2023 contains more than 1,800 highway and bridge projects in all 77 counties totaling nearly $6.5 billion. It is funded equally with federal and state funds. The projects in the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan are only possible with reliable federal and state funding.