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03/23/2018

ACEC explains Federal $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill

Substantial increases for transportation programs

From Matt Reiffer, Transportation Policy Director, ACEC National:

ACEC Transportation Committee members - 
Last night, congressional negotiators released the text of the final $1.3 trillion spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018.  The House passed the legislation this afternoon, and the Senate is expected to vote later this tonight.

The bill provides substantial increases for transportation accounts.  Highway programs are funded at $47.5 billion, an increase of $3.5 billion above FY 2017 and $2.5 billion above FAST Act levels.  Most of the extra funding, approximately $2 billion, will be apportioned to states through the Surface Transportation Block Grant program formula, with eligibility limited to highways, bridges and tunnels.  An additional $225 million is set aside for a new competitive grant program for bridge replacement or rehabilitation projects in rural areas.

Transit programs receive a total of $13.5 billion, including $9.7 billion in FAST Act formula grants and an additional $834 million from the General Fund.  The bill provides $2.6 billion for capital investment grants, an increase of $232 million above FY'17 and enough to fund existing projects as well as $400 million for New Start projects in the FTA project pipeline anticipating a full funding grant agreement, and $400 million for small starts.  The bill also provides an additional $400 million for state of good repair formula grants.  

TIGER multimodal grants are increased to $1.5 billion, $1 billion more than last year.  The maximum grant size is capped at $25 million, and 30 percent is set aside for rural areas.  Rail programs total more than $3 billion, including $1.9 billion for Amtrak, an increase of 30 percent including $322 million more for the Northeast Corridor, as well as $593 million for rail infrastructure and safety improvements and $250 million for state of good repair grants.

(For those firms interested in the Gateway projects in NY/NJ, which were the subject of intense negotiations between Congress and the Administration in recent weeks, note that there is no explicit funding for Gateway-related projects, but they would be eligible for some of the Amtrak, rail, and transit program funds.)

For aviation, the bill provides $3.2 billion for FAA facilities and equipment, an increase of nearly 14 percent ($400 million), and $4.35 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, a $1 billion boost for discretionary airport construction grants.  It also includes a 6-month extension of expiring FAA program authorizations through September 2018 to give Congress more time to debate a long-term reauthorization.  Unfortunately, the bill does not include an increase in the cap on Passenger Facility Charges collected by airports, but we will be able to make the case for that provision in the context of the FAA reauthorization bill.

The Community Development Block Grant program would get a 10 percent increase, from $3 billion in fiscal 2017 to $3.3 billion in fiscal 2018.

Lastly, in the area of new and emerging technologies, the agreement provides $25 million to FAA to support Unmanned Aircraft Systems research and development activities, and $100 million for U.S DOT to fund planning and research activities and demonstration grants for Highly Automated Vehicle technologies.

Here's a chart showing the major transportation capital accounts in the bill compared with the 2017 fiscal year:

Program

Fiscal Year 2017

FY 2018 Omnibus

Highways

$44 billion

$47.5 billion

Transit formula

$9.7 billion

$10.6 billion

Transit Capital Investment Grants

$2.4 billion

$2.6 billion

Amtrak

(Northeast Corridor)

$1.5 billion

($328 million)

$1.9 billion

($650 million)

Rail Infrastructure and Safety grants

$68 million

$593 million

Rail State of Good Repair grants

$25 million

$250 million

FAA Facilities & Equipment

$2.85 billion

$3.25 billion

Airport Improvement Program

$3.35 billion

$4.35 billion

TIGER grants

$500 million

$1.5 billion


Click here for a summary of the transportation portions of the bill from the House Appropriations Committee.

Click here for a one-page summary of the funding increases for all infrastructure programs (including water, energy, communications, and military construction).

Please let me know if you have any questions or need more information.  I'm continuing to review the bill and will circulate any additional relevant information as I find it.

Thanks,

Matt

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