Federal transportation bill creates new freight transportation grant program

President Obama signed the FAST Act on Dec. 4, creating the first stable federal transportation funding bill in 10 years. In addition to providing new funding to states for transportation, the FAST Act creates a National Highway Freight Program to provide financial assistance for projects of national or regional significance.

The program will work this way: Every five years the state will designate a primary highway freight system. Rural principal arterial roadways with a minimum of 25 percent average daily traffic from trucks qualify as a critical rural freight corridor. Once a highway is designated, the state can apply to the federal government for funding grants. Of the grant money, 25 percent is reserved for rural areas (outside an urbanized area with a population of more than 200,000). The grant must be for more than $25 million, and the federal share is limited to 60 percent of the project cost.

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