The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released their long awaited two year surface transportation authorization bill this week. The bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21, maintains current levels of investment plus inflation for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, while making significant reforms to the current program. The full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be marking up the legislation tomorrow morning and ASCE sent a letter to Committee Members today urging their support.
The reforms included in MAP-21 allow for the nation’s surface transportation program to move forward. Consolidating the 90 programs into 30, creating a National Freight Network Program, expediting project delivery, creating reasonable performance measures, and enhancing the TIFIA program are all steps that will allow for a stronger, more results-oriented transportation program.
The legislation also reduces the core highway programs from seven to five, which include three new core programs and two existing programs. The new programs include a National Highway Performance Program, a Transportation Mobility Program, and a National Freight Network Program; while the remaining programs are the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and the Highway Safety Improvement Program. Other positive reforms include a new title, called “America Fast Forward”, which strengthens the TIFIA program by increasing funding to $1 billion per year; while Title 1 takes steps to improve the existing highway bridge inspection program and authorizes a national tunnel inspection program. The bill also establishes an outcome-driven approach that tracks performance and will hold states and metropolitan planning organizations accountable for improving the conditions and performance of their transportation needs, which ASCE has supported in the past.
ASCE is looking forward to working with Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to move the MAP-21 legislation through the 112th Congress. The nation’s surface transportation needs in the 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (www.infrastructurereportcard.org) totaled $1.2 billion, while ASCE’s latest economic study on surface transportation displays the effects that the network has on the nation’s economic competitiveness.
For more information on the economic study, Failure to Act: the Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Surface Transportation, please visit our website. www.asce.org/economicstudy