The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), a funding and authorization bill to govern United States federal surface transportation spending, was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012.
Last week at an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) briefing a panel convened on the implementation of MAP-21, as well as the next transportation bill, which will need to be in place when MAP-21 expires at the end of fiscal year 2014.
The panel included Polly Trottenberg, under secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation; Homer Carlisle, staffer for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Jim Tymon, majority staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; and Jim Kolb, minority staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
All panelists discussed the most significant reforms they saw in MAP-21. Trottenberg discussed the directive for a strategic freight plan, as well as performance measures for the expanded National Highway System. Carlisle noted the bill's provisions to speed up project delivery and add key eligibility for projects. Tymon stated his pleasure with the consolidation of highway programs, flexibility for states, and the expansion of categorical exclusions in order to expedite projects. Kolb referenced the streamlining of project delivery, what he called the "hallmark" of MAP-21.
''Thanks to all in this room,'' Tymon said. ''We really relied on the state DOT point of view in drafting MAP-21. Without your input, we wouldn't have gotten as far as we did.''
Though the current transportation bill still has another year and a half before it expires, panelists said it was not too early to begin thinking about the next bill. Carlisle stated his committee would be holding numerous MAP-21 hearings during 2013, which would not just be helpful for the current bill, but also moving forward on the next one.
State transportation department leaders asked the panelists how they could be involved and of assistance in drafting the next surface transportation bill.
''We want to hear what is working and what isn't being implemented as intended,'' Tymon said.
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