The MAP-21 proposal would consolidate the current seven “core” highway programs into five. Core highway programs are the primary programs through which funding is allocated to states and on to local jurisdictions.
I’ve taken a stab at the possible impacts of the consolidation. If you’re analyzing the bill and have additions or modifications, please comment or email me.
1. National Highway Performance Program [New] – consolidates three existing programs (the Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System, and Highway Bridge) to create a single new program.
Possible impact: Provide states with more flexibility to apply funds to the most needed projects, instead of being required to spend a specific amount in each of the existing three programs regardless of the most pressing needs.
2. Transportation Mobility Program [New] – replaces the current Surface Transportation Program, but retains much of the same structure, goals and flexibility. There are 23 (!) categories of project eligible for funding.
Possible impact: Provide states and local jurisdictions more flexibility to fund projects that “fit their unique needs and priorities.” Infighting among stakeholder will surely increase over the available funding. Funding for bike-ped projects, no longer mandated, may find itself getting squeezed by air quality or freight projects.
3. National Freight Network Program [New] – provides funds to the states by formula for projects to improve regional and national freight movements on highways, including freight intermodal connectors.
Possible impact: Makes it easier for freight mobility improvement projects, particularly in freight rail and truck parking, to receive funding since they compete in their own program and not against all other highway projects.
4. Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program [Existing] “The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provides funds to states for transportation projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. MAP-21 improves the existing CMAQ program by including particulate matter as one of the pollutants addressed, and by requiring a performance plan in large metropolitan areas to ensure that CMAQ funds are being used to improve air quality and congestion in those regions. Reforms the Transportation Enhancements program with more flexibility granted to the states on the use of the funds within the program.”
Possible impact: If it survives (anticipate some pushback from State DOTs and possibly some local jurisdictions), could increase the number of projects designed to improve air quality. The number of bike-ped projects may decline, through competition with air-quality projects.
5. Highway Safety Improvement Program [Existing] – “substantially increases the amount of funding for this program because of the strong results it has achieved in reducing fatalities.”
Possible impact: May accelerate the reduction of fatalities and injuries.
Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.