Congressional Surface Transportation Conference Report
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)
Congress Passes Surface Transportation Bill - Thank You Key Contacts!
Congress on Friday, June 29 passed a final transportation authorization bill, capping a nearly three year effort to craft a successor to the SAFETEA-LU program that expired in September 2009. The conference deal, which runs through the end of September 2014, will keep transportation spending at current levels and extend the authority to collect gasoline taxes through September 2016.
The House and Senate agreement, or Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), will set highway spending at $39.7 billion in fiscal 2013 and $40.3 billion in fiscal 2014. Mass transit formula grants would be set at $8.5 billion in fiscal 2013 and $8.6 billion in fiscal 2014. Additional revenues will mostly come from collecting revenues from changes to federal pensions and moving money from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund into the Highway Trust Fund.
Initially the passage of this bill was very much in doubt, but Congressional leaders finally came to a compromise in the middle of the night on June 28, before it was passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. The House passed the bill with a vote of 373 - 52, while the Senate passed the bill with a vote of 74 - 19.
In addition to providing funding for transportation projects, the bill will consolidate overlapping federal programs; streamline the project delivery process to allow contractors to shorten project times and save federal funds, and give states the authority to target projects where those federal funds are needed the most.
ASCE supports many of the reforms included in this final bill, but most importantly, we support the nearly two and a half year duration. While this is not the six years that many in the industry have hoped for, we feel it is the best that could be achieved in the current challenging economic environment. This bill will provide more stability to the industry than it has had in nearly three years of extensions to SAFETEA-LU.
Key points of the bill for civil engineers:
- Extends programs and guarentees current funding levels through September 2014
- Implements environmental streamlining to speed project approvals
- Ties some funding to performance measures
- Increases funding for the TIFIA grant program
- Provides states flexibility with transportation enhancement funds
- Establishes a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund to clean up damage from the oil spill
- Expands the ability of states to place tolls on any Federal-aid facility for new capacity
Literally hundreds of ASCE Key Contacts assisted in this effort by responding to Key Alerts asking them to call, email or make visits with their elected officials to let them know how vital this legislation is to the nation’s infrastructure, and to the livelihoods of all Americans. Thanks to all those who helped!
Thank your members of Congress who voted in favor of the final transportation bill:
If you have been in contact with your Federal elected official about this issue, please let us know by completing our grassroots feedback form.
Despite this success, our work is not done – we continue to under-invest in our infrastructure http://www.asce.org/failuretoact . ASCE will continue to inform Key Contacts http://www.asce.org/keycontacts/ of how they can help advance our goals for improving the nation’s infrastructure.
Senate Environment & Public Works Committee release
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee release
Read ASCE’s letter to Congress urging a YES vote on the surface transportation conference report.
Read ASCE's Press Statement.
House Democrats prepared a summary of the Conference Report.
The full bill text can be read at the House Rules Committee website.
SAFETEA-LU, the current surface transportation authorization legislation, expired in September 2009. Since then, the nation's transportation systems have been operating on a series of extensions, the most recent of which expires June 30, 2012. Without the enactment of long-term reauthorization legislation, state Departments of Transportation cannot effectively plan for improvement projects and the state of our nation's transportation systems continue to deteriorate from their already poor conditions. ASCE's 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure graded the nation's roads a D-, bridges a C and transit a D.
The Senate in March approved Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), a two-year authorization that maintains current funding levels plus inflation and make some program changes, by a vote of 74-22. See more information on MAP-21.
The House in April approved H.R. 4348, legislation that included basic reforms to transportation programs plus language to extend SAFETEA-LU through September 2012. The legislation was passed as a vehicle to get to conference where House leaders hope to include as many of their priorities as possible from their previous authorization proposal, H.R. 7, that could not garner enough support to pass the full House in February.
Since April, 14 Senate conferees, which include 8 Democrats and 6 Republicans and 33 House conferees, which include 20 Republicans and 13 Democrats, negotiated a final conference report. The agreed to conference report passed the House and the Senate on June 29, 2012 and will run until September 2014.
ASCE is supportive of many provisions in the final conference report, including policy reforms relating to reforming the Department of Transportation, streamlining project approval and delivery, the creation of performance measures, the increase of funding for the TIFIA grant program, and a study on the impact of increased truck weights on the nation’s infrastructure and public safety.