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Long-term transportation funding bill signed by president

December 7th, 2015 / By: / Industry News, News

‘Geosynthetics language’ is included in the new law

With overwhelming bipartisan support last Thursday, the U.S. House and Senate approved a five-year transportation bill, which was signed into law by President Obama the next day.

The $305 billion “FAST Act” (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) provides—for the first time in a decade—systematic extended funding for U.S. roads, bridges, and transit systems.

Included in the law is “geosynthetics language” directed at the Secretary of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):

SEC. 1428. USE OF DURABLE, RESILIENT, AND SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS AND PRACTICES.
To the extent practicable, the Secretary shall encourage the use of durable, resilient, and sustainable materials and practices, including the use of geosynthetic materials and other innovative technologies, in carrying out the activities of the Federal Highway Administration.

Upon receiving this news, the immediate past-chairman of the Geosynthetic Materials Association’s (GMA) Executive Council, Boyd Ramsey, wrote to his colleagues:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
My congratulations on this achievement to Keith, Jon and all of the other GMA Executive Council members and IFAI staff who have assisted with this effort. Of course, we all have a lot of additional work to do, but when the encouragement of the use of geosynthetic materials is the “law of the land” it is certainly helpful to our sales and technical efforts.
Well done!

(Editor’s note: Keith is current GMA Executive Council chair, Keith Gardner. Jon is Jonathan Curry, GMA’s Division Supervisor under the umbrella of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), a not-for-profit trade association that includes 14 market divisions.)

The transportation bill staggered to the president’s desk and he signed it on Friday, Dec. 4—the date of scheduled financial expiration for the U.S. Highway Trust Fund that provides federal road and transit spending—following nearly 10 years and 36 temporary “patches” to maintain transportation funding.

The new law, which will be paid for with gas tax revenue and a package of $70 billion in offsets from other areas of the federal budget, calls for spending about $205 billion on roads and bridges, and $48 billion on transit projects during the next five years. It also includes a reauthorization of the controversial Export–Import Bank’s expired charter until 2019.

—Ron Bygness, senior editor, Geosynthetics magazine

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