Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young, former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, offered the following statement after House passage of H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
“The last time Congress passed a long-term transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, I was Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Since then, we have limped along with short-term extension after short-term extension, robbing our states and localities of the certainty they depend on to repair and expand our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. I proudly worked with Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio to break this cycle by producing this meaningful long-term package. This bill, which represents negotiations between the House and Senate, is by no means perfect. However, it makes a number of important reforms and improvements to give states and localities added flexibility, to streamline duplicative permitting processes, to refocus significant resources on moving freight, and to maintain a strong commitment to safety.
“The success of any state’s economy directly depends on their ability to move people and products safely and efficiently. That is especially true in a developing and geographically unique state like ours, which is why I worked so hard to secure numerous provisions specifically beneficial to Alaskans – including $31 million annually for the Alaska Railroad, ample funding for our ferry program, and significant increases for the Tribal Transportation Program. Showing the power of a united Alaskan delegation, together Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan and I were able to secure these and other provisions for the betterment of our state and people. Overall, Alaska will see an increase of $281 million compared to our current transportation funding levels.”
H.R. 22, which passed today by a vote of 359 to 65, would secure over $2.9 billion in transportation funding for Alaska over the next five years - a $281 million or 10.6% increase above current levels. The FAST Act contains numerous Alaska-focused provisions championed by Congressman Young and the Alaska delegation, including:
- Provisions to clarify congressional intent from a 2005 SAFETEA-LU land swap provision to ensure that all outstanding easements promised by U.S. Forest Service are delivered to the State of Alaska;
- $31 million annually for Alaska Railroad through revisions to the FTA formula, approximately $3 million above current levels;
- $80 million annually for the National Ferry Program, including an estimated $18.6 million dedicated to Alaska (the largest of any other state in the nation);
- A PM2.5 rural state waiver for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program, which will allow low population density states like Alaska to use their set aside funds for other local priority projects, rather than on compliance with nonattainment standards;
- $175 million increase above current levels to the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) over the next five years;
- $35 million annually for the Tribal Transit program ($13 million increase above current levels);
- A 1% reduction in administrative fees by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Federal Highway Administration.
Click here for more details about the provisions included in the FAST Act.