WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, released the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The bill authorizes federal highway, transit and rail programs through fiscal year 2020 without raising taxes or adding to the deficit.
“The importance of passing a long-term highway reauthorization and delivering certainty and flexibility to state and local governments in planning infrastructure projects cannot be overstated,” Sen. Moran said. “This bill finally ends the cycle of short-term extensions and threats of devastating shutdowns to transportation programs that have hurt the nation’s ability to complete highway projects for the past 10 years. By cutting red tape and accelerating project delivery, the FAST Act will help address deteriorating infrastructure – like Topeka’s Willard Bridge – and Kansas’ other failing roads and bridges.”
Since 2005, Congress has passed 36 short-term extensions to highway funding authority, and has repeatedly resorted to transfers from the U.S. Treasury to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. Kansas has more miles of highway than 48 of the 50 states, yet data from the American Society of Civil Engineers and other national transportation research groups indicate that 34 percent of major roads in Kansas are in poor condition and 17 percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient. The FAST Act enhances Kansas’ ability to manage and allocate federal dollars efficiently, while expanding funding opportunities for bridges in rural communities outside the National Highway System.
The FAST Act includes two additional provisions sponsored by Sen. Moran to reduce regulatory overreach and increase efficiency. The first would provide the agriculture industry relief from a burdensome regulation requiring farmers and ranchers to obtain a hazardous material endorsement before transporting small amounts of diesel fuel critical for a number of agricultural operations. The second, mirroring the Safe and Efficient Trailer Delivery Act introduced by Sen. Moran in June, allows for the delivery of tandem trailers under certain safety conditions, lowering costs for manufacturers and ultimately reducing highway congestion.
The House of Representatives passed the legislation earlier Thursday afternoon, and the FAST Act is soon expected to be signed into law by President Obama. Absent Congressional action, surface transportation authorization was set to expire on Dec. 4, 2015.