Funding for highways is ready to roll
The same or more funds
Nonetheless, MAP-21 includes some provisions that could maintain or even increase federal help to local governments:
MAP-21 preserves sub-state allocation of Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds. Half the funding each state receives under the STP is to be allocated within the state based on population, with funds being divided between urban areas with more than 200,000 population, other areas between 5,000 and 200,000 population, and rural areas with populations of less than 5,000. Every part of the state is thus guaranteed to receive at least some federal highway funds. The other half of STP funding may be used anywhere in the state.
MAP-21 preserves a mandatory set-aside for off-system bridges, also as part of the STP program. Each state is required to spend as much on off-system bridges each year as was required in FY 2009 under the 15 percent off-system set aside in the SAFETEA-LU Bridge Program.
A new provision of the STP makes improvements to minor collector roads eligible for federal funding if the improvement will enhance the level of service on a related National Highway System (NHS) route and is more cost-effective than an improvement to the NHS route. In addition, up to 15 percent of STP funds sub-allocated to areas of a state with a population of less than 5,000 also may be used for improvements to minor collector roads. Otherwise, they and local roads remain ineligible for federal funds.
As part of new “National Freight Policy” provisions, MAP-21 encourages states to invest in highway improvements that improve the flow of freight by increasing the federal share of project costs to 90 percent or more. The important element for local governments is that each state has to define a freight network that, in addition to Interstate highways and NHS highways that are critical to freight movement, may also include local rural roads with significant truck traffic.
The new law also creates a comprehensive performance process under which the U.S. Secretary of Transportation develops national goals and performance measures to track progress toward those goals. States are then charged with setting performance targets and reporting to the secretary on their efforts to achieve those targets.