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Federal Omnibus Appropriations 2018

Highlights to the federal omnibus appropriation are as follows:

Federal-aid Highways Program: $44.2 billion which is $900 more than last year.  Congress provided an additional $2.53 billion in Federal-aid Highway funding that will be allocated to each state’s Surface Transportation Block Grant Program using the same FAST Act formula ratios.  Thus every state should see about an 8% increase in Federal-aid highway funding subject to state match requirements.

Airport Improvement Program: $3.35 billion which is the same as prior years.  Congress provided an additional $1 billion in Airport Improvement Grant funding.  This program funds airfield pavement projects.

TIGER Grants: $1.5 billion in discretionary highway grants that may be awarded by the US Department of Transportation.  This is $1 billion more than last year.  In the most recent TIGER grant announcement, the Trump Administration has directed these funds towards highway projects in rural areas.

Competitive Grants: $15 million in competitive grants to research centers to focus on improving durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure.  The National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) may apply under this new program.

Report Language:  The Omnibus Appropriations Bill approves the following guidance from Congress as follows:

Culvert and storm sewer materials procurement.–The Secretary is not directed to conduct the following as originally specified in the House Transportation Appropriations Bill: The Committee directs the Secretary to evaluate the methods by which States procure culvert and storm sewer materials and the  impact of those methods on project costs, including the extent to which such methods take into account environmental principles, engineering principles, and the varying needs of projects based on geographic location.

Permeable pavements.–The Congress encourages the Secretary to accelerate research, demonstration, and deployment of permeable pavements to achieve flood mitigation, pollutant reduction, stormwater runoff reduction, and conservation. Projects may include roadway shoulder load testing and documenting lifecycle cost efficiency.

Recycled materials.–Section 1428 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) requires the Secretary to encourage use of durable and sustainable materials. The Congress encourages FHWA to fulfill these objectives and to consider working collaboratively with the Expert Task Group, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and industry stakeholders in developing revised standards that allow for the maximum use of recycled materials without detrimental impact to lifecycle cost.

Critical commerce corridors.–The Congress believes critical commerce corridors, an authorized use of funds in the nationally significant freight and highway projects program, can improve our economic efficiency, reduce travel times, and promote safe travel on our nation’s roads and highways. These corridors include existing highways where a barrier physically separates lanes dedicated to heavy commercial trucks from lanes dedicated to passenger vehicles. The Congress encourages DOT to strongly consider applications for the creation of critical commerce corridors when awarding grants to individual states.

Resilient Infrastructure.–The Congress directs the FHWA to submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations that includes recommendations for States, MPOs, and cities to plan for and develop resilient Federal-aid highways that are contextually sensitive, and provide cost-effective solutions to improving shoreline protections for existing highways not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this act. The Congress further directs FHWA to expand its technical assistance and training workshops to help coastal States, MPOs, and cities to revise their practices in all phases of transportation planning and asset management, project planning and development, and operations with the goal of improving the resiliency of our coastal highways and reducing the life-cycle costs for these natural disaster prone roadways.

 

 

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