The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) yesterday reported out S.1813 “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21), a bill to reauthorize the nation’s transportation programs for two years at current funding levels. According to the committee, its unanimous approval (18-0) of the bill “illustrates broad bipartisan support for passage by the full Senate.” The committee Friday released the 600 pages of draft text of the $109 billion bill, which includes an additional $12 billion over the current amount to account for inflation. The Senate Finance Committee, which is in charge of finding the additional $12 billion, has not yet announced where funding will come from.
The bill would consolidate the number of federal transportation programs from 90 to 30. The bill also sets out a new path for project delivery that would allow agencies to better coordinate and would eliminate the lengthy National Environmental Policy Act review process for certain projects that will not have an environmental impact.
MAP-21 would not make significant changes to the existing program but does contain language that would speed project delivery and eliminate earmarks. The bill also contains a $1 billion annual expansion of the popular Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Program (TIFIA) loans.
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, which provides funding for state projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, would see some changes. The bill would add particulate matter as one of the pollutants addressed by the program, as well as require performance plans in large metropolitan areas to ensure the funds are being spent properly.
The bill would reform the controversial Transportation Enhancements program, which requires states to spend some money on non-highway projects including bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Under MAP-21, the TE funding would be moved under the existing CMAQ program, although it still would draw dedicated funds. States would also be eligible to apply for additional TE money under the surface transportation mobility program.
After the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee moved their draft transportation bill (MAP-21) out of committee with a successful bipartisan vote, Transportation for America Director James Corless offered this statement:
“The bipartisan passage of the MAP-21 bill in the Senate EPW Committee this morning provides a significant opportunity to move forward on a long overdue authorization of federal transportation policy with full funding to ensure we invest in America’s infrastructure. Key reforms in the bill would place a stronger emphasis on repairing and rebuilding our roads and bridges, while instituting performance measures that will help hold agencies accountable for the maintenance and operations of our transportation network.
“We will work with Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe and the rest of the Committee to ensure that there is dedicated funding that prioritizes bicycle and pedestrian projects, strong workforce development provisions and smart transportation planning reforms. We are eager to address these issues so we can put the full strength and weight of our coalition behind the bill as it moves forward in order to make the most of our federal transportation dollars, put people back to work and deliver the transportation system that Americans need.”
S. 1813 is now headed to the full Senate for consideration, where it will be combined with measures from the Senate Committee on Finance, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
On the House side, the highway reauthorization proposal is currently in the hands of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The current surface transportation bill expires on March 31.
Sources: E&E; T4A; EPW; FleetOwner