Engineering Inc. - January/February 2016 - (Page 6)

Legislative Action A KEVIN BURKE/GLOW IMAGES CEC secured a key legislative priority with the enactment of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act, a five-year reauthorization of federal highway, transit and rail programs. The law features a 10 percent increase in funding over current levels and a number of important Council-backed policy reforms. "This is a huge win for our industry," said ACEC President and CEO Dave Raymond. "After years of uncertainty and unpredictability, we finally have a stable federal program that will enable state and local agencies to move forward with critical projects all across the country." The FAST Act provides $225 billion for highway programs over five years, an increase of more than $20 billion over current funding, including $207 billion in formula funds to the states, $4.5 billion for a new discretionary grant program aimed at improving freight mobility, and $1.4 billion for TIFIA loans and credit assistance to leverage additional investment. Annual state highway funding will increase from $39.7 billion in F.Y. 2016 to $43.4 billion in F.Y. 2020. Transit programs will receive $61 billion over five years, an increase of nearly $6 billion above current levels, including $48.7 billion in formula funds to state and local governments and $11.5 billion for capital investment grants. Congress also included a separate reauthorization of passenger rail programs funded through the General Fund (not the Highway Trust Fund). The law authorizes $10.4 billion over five years, including $2.6 billion for Amtrak improvements in the Northeast Corridor and $2.2 billion for state rail grants. The FAST Act includes a provision recognizing the value of private engineering and design services and urges the Secretary of Transportation 6 ENGINEERING INC. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016 to encourage state DOTs to partner with private firms "to strengthen project performance, improve domestic competitiveness, and create jobs." ACEC will coordinate closely with the U.S. DOT on implementing the measure. During House committee debate on the bill, ACEC worked with committee leaders to defeat several threats to industry positions. Amendments were filed to mandate government insourcing of certain engineering services, to require flawed costbenefit analysis of contracting decisions, and to repeal QBS requirements for federal-aid highway projects. ACEC voiced strong objections to these pernicious changes, and none of the amendments were approved. The legislation also features project delivery streamlining reforms backed by ACEC, such as further integration of planning decisions into environmental reviews, accelerated decision making, programmatic mitigation plans, delegation of NEPA review authority to states and the expansion of categorical exclusions. Congress transferred $70 billion from the General Fund into the Highway Trust Fund to supplement existing transportation revenues and support the five years of funding increases in the bill. Although the law does not raise federal gas or diesel taxes, it does include research and development grants for state pilot projects to test mileagebased user fees and other alternative revenue mechanisms. "We still have some work to do convincing policymakers and the public on increasing transportation user fees," said Raymond, "but passage of this bill-the first long-term transportation bill in a decade-demonstrates what we can achieve with sustained advocacy and political engagement." PAUL J. RICHARDS/GETTY IMAGES Congress Passes, President Signs Five-Year, $305 Billion Transportation Bill Into Law Congress Clears Export-Import Bank Reauthorization C ongress approved ACEC-supported legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for four years as part of a larger transportation package. During House debate, ACEC and its coalition allies were able to defeat 10 separate amendments to strip or weaken the reauthorization language in the transportation package. The reauthorization language also includes ACEC-backed provisions to expand the scope of energy projects eligible for bank financing.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - January/February 2016

Engineering Inc. - January/february 2016
Table of Contents
From ACEC to You
Market Watch
Legislative Action
Turning Back the Tides
2016 Legislative Outlook
Racing to Help
Going Global
Smooth Sailing
2016 Annual Convention Preview
Business Insights
Mergers and Acquisitions
Members in the News
Guest Column

Engineering Inc. - January/February 2016