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Federal Transportation Authorization Deal Reached

June 29, 2012

The Conference Committee announced an agreement on a 27-month transportation authorization that would fund transportation at existing levels, adjusted for inflation.

 

The new program bill will be titled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Congress has sent the bill to President Barack Obama.

MAP-21, which costs $27.185 billion above current gasoline tax revenues, will be paid for by the Highway Trust Fund, shifts from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund, and General Fund. Several pension fund changes will replenish the General Fund costs in future years. The transportation package is also paired with language that prevents increases on student loan interest rates and provisions relating to flood insurance.

The deal consolidates approximately 60 highway programs into four core programs, making the programs compete against each other for funding. Several set-asides were eliminated, and other funds, including transportation enhancements, will undergo significant changes. Following passage of the federal bill, state law will need to be significantly updated to reflect the new structure. League staff and some members have already been participating in preliminary discussions with other transportation stakeholders to prepare for this need, and we expect these efforts to now proceed in earnest. 

MAP-21 will have a strong focus on safety, including a requirement that systems that receive federal funding must establish comprehensive safety programs. Enhanced vehicle safety requirements and motorcoach safety provisions are also included. A bus safety performance program will be established to allow passengers to compare the safety of different bus companies. Some funding will be dedicated to states that adopt distracted driving laws. 

MAP-21 will expire September 2014. The federal gasoline tax will be extended for two years following the expiration of the program authorization, creating more stability for transportation funding, even though the program authorizations will run out in a fairly short time period. 



 
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