The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act enacted in December 2015 represented the first comprehensive, long-term surface transportation legislation since 2005’s SAFETEA-LU. The FAST Act continues to fulfill the Constitutional directive that investment in transportation is a core federal responsibility.

Yet at the same time, the FAST Act provides only a one-time and near-term—though absolutely necessary—reprieve when it comes to federal surface transportation funding. By not enacting a long-term funding source, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) continues to remain at a crossroads. The HTF has provided stable, reliable, and substantial highway and transit funding for decades since its inception in 1956, but this is no longer the case. Since 2008, the HTF has been sustained through a series of General Fund transfers now amounting to $140 billion.

Without a solution to this crisis, AASHTO estimates that states will see about a 40 percent drop in highway funding from FY 2020 to 2021. In the past, such similar shortfall situations have led to the possibility of a reduction in federal reimbursements to states on existing obligations, leading to serious cash flow problems for states and resulting in project delays. More alarmingly, due to a steeper projected shortfall in the Mass Transit Account, new federal transit obligations are expected to be zeroed out between FY 2021 and FY 2023. Simply put, this is a devastating scenario that we must do all we can to avoid. Beyond maintaining program levels, there has been broad consensus among states that additional federal funding and investment is warranted.

Beyond funding stability, after decades of adding layers of regulatory requirements on state transportation agencies, various aspects of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the FAST Act provided needed policy reforms. In the next surface transportation reauthorization, AASHTO recognizes that we need to continue the momentum of MAP-21 and the FAST Act by making further efficiency gains on project delivery and providing increased flexibility for states. Every state DOT’s priority is ensuring safety and serving as responsible stewards of taxpayer resources and both human and natural environments, all the while improving both mobility and accessibility for all residents and businesses.

Based on the recommendations developed by AASHTO’s Transportation Policy Forum, this official package of AASHTO surface transportation reauthorization recommendations to Congress and the Administration was adopted by the AASHTO Board of Directors on October 9, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.

AASHTO Policy Recommendations

Supplemental Materials

Congressional Action

AASHTO Roadmap Timeline

  • May 2018: Formally kick off the surface reauthorization effort at the TPF meeting; 2018 AASHTO Spring Meeting, Franklin, TN
  • May 2018 to September 2018: Committees to develop and approve their five-page white paper.
  • September 2018: TPF, Modal Councils, and Special Committee on Freight to receive briefings on each white paper; 2018 AASHTO Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA
  • September 2018 to February 2019: Modal Councils and Special Committee on Freight to develop and approve their five-page white paper.
  • February 2019: TPF to receive briefings on each Modal and Special Committee white paper; 2019 AASHTO Washington Briefing, Washington, DC
  • February 2019 to May 2019: TPF to prioritize policy issue areas based on 16 white papers received.
  • May 2019: TPF to identify the priority policy issue areas for further discussion; 2019 AASHTO Spring Meeting, Park City, UT
  • August 8-9, 2019: TPF to hold an in-person special session to consider all priority issue areas, then draft policy resolutions for AASHTO Board; Minneapolis, MN
  • October 2019: AASHTO Board of Directors to consider and formally adopt the AASHTO reauthorization policy package; 2019 AASHTO Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO
  • October to November 2019: AASHTO staff to develop visual complements of the reauthorization package intended to serve different audiences in the transportation stakeholder community
  • November 2019 to September 2020: AASHTO members and staff to communicate and explain AASHTO’s formal policy positions