On July 6, 2012, ULI representatives joined other transportation leaders at the White House for the signing by President Obama of MAP-21, the two-year reauthorization of the federal transportation program. Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) is bipartisan legislation authorizing the federal surface transportation program through September 2014 and extending the gasoline tax and other highway trust fund taxes through September 2016.
Under MAP-21, federal funding for transportation programs stays at existing levels plus inflation and retains the existing 80/20 split between highways and transit. Because revenues from taxes on motor fuels no longer cover existing spending levels, the law supplements the Highway Trust Fund with revenues transferred from other sources, including general revenues.
Key provisions in the bill include the following:
Accountability and performance – In a departure from past surface transportation authorizations, the new bill contains no earmarks. To enhance accountability, MAP-21 consolidates the numerous federal highway programs and introduces performance measures for both the highway and transit programs.
Private investment – The new law dramatically expands the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan and loan guarantee program, which will see funding increase nearly tenfold, to $1 billion per year, encourages public/private partnerships, and could help make investment in transit easier. The law provides new flexibility for tolling non-interstate highways and adding new tolled lanes to the interstates.
Transit and urban transportation – Transit funding remained stable as a component of the federal program, but the programs that fund pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure received cuts. The new law does, however, expand the New Starts transit investment program to encompass projects that expand the capacity of existing transit systems and creates a new transit-oriented development planning grant program.
Other significant provisions include the introduction of a national freight strategic plan, and the creation of a new $1 billion competitive grant program for multimodal projects of national and regional significance.