USDOT Guidance Details FAST Act Requirements for State Freight Plans

Via AASHTO Journal

In an Oct. 14 Federal Register notice, the U.S. Department of Transportation provided detailed guidance to states on how to prepare the freight plans they must develop to qualify for federal freight program funding, and offered extensive recommendations on how to set up voluntary advisory committees.

The guidance represented modal agencies other than transit, from those focused on highways to railroads, trucking to pipelines and maritime shipments.

It emphasized that the USDOT in preparing the document took into account the differences among states and their need for flexible federal rules. So the notice carefully spelled out what elements were required by last year's Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, and which are USDOT recommendations but are not required.

"DOT recognizes that states vary in their transportation needs and system requirements, particularly regarding multimodal freight transportation," it said. "Some of the recommended elements may not be relevant to every state, and as such, do not have to be included in the plan.

"Similarly, the guidance is not intended to preclude states from supplementing their state freight plans with elements not described in the FAST Act or in this guidance. States have significant flexibility in creating state freight plans and state freight advisory committees that fit their needs."

For instance, states must produce FAST Act-compliant freight plans with 10 required elements by Dec. 4, 2017, to remain eligible to obligate federal formula funds under the National Highway Freight Program. The state plans must provide for immediate and long-range planning activities and state investments with respect to freight for a period covering five years, although the USDOT is urging states to plan for a longer term of 20 years.

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