How will the new federal transportation bill impact Oregon?
President Obama recently signed into law the new federal transportation bill, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), more than 1000 days after the last transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired. But hey, who’s counting?
In extending the federal highway, transit and safety programs through the end of federal Fiscal Year 2014, MAP-21 makes major changes to federal transportation programs and policy. Some of the highlights:
- Funding levels for the highway and transit programs are kept at about the same level as in 2012, avoiding deep cuts that were proposed last year.
- Oregon will get the same amount of highway funding as in 2012, which was a cut of about 7% from the previous year. However, Oregon’s overall share of funding increased compared to its share of funding under SAFETEA-LU.
- The bill significantly consolidates the highway program structure, collapsing dozens of formula and discretionary programs into just a handful of major programs.
- For the first time the federal highway program will include performance measures and targets for state DOTs to ensure greater accountability in spending billions of dollars.
- A number of provisions will modify environmental review processes in an effort to reduce the time it takes to get projects under construction.
- MAP-21 would create a national freight policy, including the designation of a primary freight network and development of a national freight strategic plan.
- Significantly for Oregon, the bill includes nearly $100 million for Oregon counties and schools under a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools timber payments.
- The Columbia River Crossing project will get a big boost from the expansion of the TIFIA credit program, from which it is seeking a billion dollar loan; with favorable financing terms a TIFIA loan could help the CRC’s tolling revenue generate more cash for construction.
- Because many transit systems are having to cut service due to the poor economy, MAP-21 will allow transit systems operating fewer than 100 buses in peak service to use a portion of their federal funds for operating expenses.
Passage of the bill will ensure continued funding for highway and transit projects for the next two years, making it easier for ODOT and other transportation agencies to plan their long-term capital projects.