The ink was barely dry on the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) when highway supporters began clamoring for more—much more. “Proper” funding, critics argued, should approach $140 billion annually.
Less than $82 billion of the $105 billion bill was directed toward the nation’s 4 million miles of roads and 602,000 bridges. Of that, nearly one-half is for building and maintaining thoroughfares under federal jurisdiction, which represent just one-quarter of the total system.
What about the 3 million miles of roads and 300,000 bridges under state and local control?
Policy changes: verdict is still out
MAP-21 implemented a number of programmatic changes to speed the delivery of funds and projects and, in line with the Obama administration’s desire for transparent government, track how states use taxpayer dollars. After almost 20 months, one might expect local officials to be knee-deep into the current program armed with data to support their positions for what’s next.
Credit: Washington State DOT
The Washington State DOT leveraged $4 million in federal aid to help Thurston County implement $14 million in capacity-enhancement projects including two roundabouts, planter strips and islands, and sewer and water upgrades.
In reality, it’s too soon to gauge the full impact of a two-year bill that expires on Sept. 30.
Progress has been impeded due to required impact rule changes that took longer than expected for the U.S. DOT and states to implement. Several have yet to be finalized. Still others have just been handed down. For example, the rule adding National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) categorical exclusions (CE) for projects within an existing operational right-of-way and those receiving limited federal funding became effective this February, one year after initial notification.
Even so, enough time has passed for infrastructure managers to gauge if certain changes will achieve their goal.
Next Page: No earmarks: a mixed bag