No earmarks: a mixed bag

MAP-21’s goal is to ensure that all roads have access to federal funds. One way to do this was eliminating Equity Bonus and High Priority Projects—better known as earmarks.

Kathleen Davis, director of Highways & Local Programs for the Washington State DOT, thinks eliminating earmarks levels the playing field “as long as you’re funding the strategic objectives of your state and local communities.”

Debra Hale is executive director of the Transportation Agency for Monterey County, Calif., and a former American Public Works Association (APWA) Transportation Committee chair who has testified before Congress. None of the areas in her agency’s 3,771-square-mile county qualify as urbanized, making it just as difficult to tap into discretionary programs like Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

“There are new rules with new regulations on the way the money is allocated,” she says. “It’s moved away from metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Earmarks worked better, but they’re not coming back.”

  • Expected to remain in the next federal surface transportation bill? Probably.

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