Senate Releases Bipartisan Transportation Bill, MAP-21

Details of long-anticipated federal transportation legislation were released Friday in the U.S. Senate.A bipartisan transportation spending-authorization bill, known as MAP-21 — Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, was released late Friday by the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

The proposed legislation maintains funding at current levels for two years, reduces the number of federal programs from 90 to 30, institutes performance standards, increases flexibility within the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) programs to leverage state and local dollars, creates a new National Freight Network Program, authorizes a Projects of National Significance account and proposes guidelines for expediting project delivery.

No transit or rail funding is included in MAP 21, but such programs of interest to the Northwest will come later from the Banking-Housing and Commerce Committees.

For a quick snapshot of the recently released bill, here's a snippet from Transportation Issues Daily, a blog dedicated to transportation policy.

  1. Maintains highways and transit funding at roughly current (funding, not revenue) levels for two years;
  2. Provides states with at least 95 percent of what they pay in transportation taxes, but eliminates the underlying formula program distribution (see blog later this week for explanation);
  3. Reduces “core” highway programs to five from seven;
  4. Provides states more flexibility in how they use their money;
  5. Consolidates surface transportation programs down to about 30 from the approximately 90;
  6. Retains the Transportation Enhancements program but changes project eligibility. Museums are eliminated, and environmental mitigation is expanded. In addition, in the set-aside in CMAQ TE competes with other projects, as well. So in total the funding is reduced and the eligibility for the set-aside funds is greatly expanded.
  7. Creates a National Freight Network Program;
  8. Does not identify the source of the $12 billion needed to fully fund the proposal;
  9. Streamlines project review and approval processes to expedite projects;
  10. Requires states to meet certain accountability measures for the highway system within four years; States not meeting the standards would have to set aside some funding for maintenance until meeting the standards;
  11. Continues the Projects of National and Regional Significance program, and authorizes $1 billion for 2013;
  12. Contains no transit or rail sections. (These will come later from the Banking-Housing and Commerce Committees, respectively);
  13. Has bipartisan support from the Chair Barbara Boxer, Ranking Republican Jim Inhofe and the Democratic Chair and Ranking Republican of the committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.