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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surface Transportation Funding and Programs Under MAP-21: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141)

Robert S. Kirk, Coordinator
Specialist in Transportation Policy

John Frittelli
Specialist in Transportation Policy

Linda Luther
Analyst in Environmental Policy

William J. Mallett
Specialist in Transportation Policy

David Randall Peterman
Analyst in Transportation Policy

On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141). The act authorized spending on federal highway and public transportation programs, surface transportation safety and research, and some rail programs and activities through September 30, 2014. MAP-21 authorized roughly $105 billion for FY2013 and FY2014 combined. It also extended FY2012 surface transportation authorizations to the end of the fiscal year, raising the total authorization to approximately $118 billion.

Most of the funding for surface transportation bills has been drawn from the highway trust fund (HTF) since its creation in 1956, but the HTF, which receives revenue mainly from federal motor fuel taxes, has experienced declining revenue due to a sluggish economy and improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency. For the past several years, HTF revenue has been insufficient to finance the government’s surface transportation programs, leading Congress to delay reauthorization for 33 months following expiration of the last multi-year reauthorization. Although Congress was unable to agree on a long-term solution to the HTF revenue issue, MAP-21 did provide for the transfer of sufficient general fund revenues to the HTF to fund a two-year bill.

MAP-21 made major changes in the programmatic structure for both highways and public transportation and included initiatives intended to increase program efficiency through performance-based planning and the streamlining of project development. Among its major provisions, MAP-21 included:

  • for the federal-aid highway program, research, and education, authorizations for FY2013 of $40.96 billion and for FY2014 of $41.03 billion;
  • for public transportation, authorizations for FY2013 of $10.58 billion and for FY2014 of $10.7 billion;
  • for the Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which provides credit assistance for surface transportation projects, a significant expansion that could provide credit support of up to $690 million for FY2013 and $9.2 billion for FY2014;
  • major program restructuring, which reduced the number of highway programs by two-thirds and consolidated public transportation programs as well; • more distribution of funding via apportionment to the states and less discretionary funding via the Department of Transportation (DOT) to individual projects;
  • no project earmarks;
  • no equity program, instead basing the distribution of highway funding on the FY2012 distribution such that each state will likely receive as much federal highway funding as its highway users paid to the highway account of the HTF; and
  • changes in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance process intended to accelerate project delivery.

Date of Report: September 27, 2012
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R42762
Price: $29.95

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