On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law P.L. 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). After years of extending surface transportation programs MAP-21 was the first multi-year transportation authorization enacted since 2005. MAP-21 funded surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014. The bill provided roughly $52 billion annually which was basically the same level as the prior year with a slight bump for inflation. (SAFETEA-LU average annual funding: $50.1b; TEA-21: $34.1b). The split between highway and transit funding maintained the historic 80/20 split. General funds were used to increase spending because Congress would not increase the federal gas tax or establish any new fees to pay for the obligations in the bill.
For the first-time Congress established a performance-based program for states, MPOs, and transit providers to more efficiently invest Federal transportation funds by focusing on national transportation goals, increasing the accountability and transparency of the programs, and improving transportation investment decisions made through performance-based planning and programming. Metropolitan and statewide transportation planning processes were continued and enhanced to incorporate performance goals, measures, and targets into the process of identifying needed transportation improvements and project selection. MPO long-range plans are required to incorporate performance plans for specific programs. The long-range plan must describe the performance measures and targets used in assessing system performance and progress in achieving the performance targets. The TIP must also be developed to make progress toward established performance targets and include a description of the anticipated achievements.
The bill merged the Safe Routes to School program, Recreational Trails, and Scenic Byways to become new program called Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Funding was derived from the restructuring of the highway programs, 50% of funds are directed to MPOs and all funds were to be distributed through competitive grants.
MAP-21 also focused on eliminating and restructuring the number of transportation programs. For example, activities carried out under previously existing formula programs like the National Highway System Program, the Interstate Maintenance Program, the Highway Bridge Program, and the Appalachian Development Highway System Program were incorporated into the following new core formula program structure:
- National Highway Performance Program (NHPP)
- Surface Transportation Program (STP)
- Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ)
- Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)
- Railway-Highway Crossings (set-aside from HSIP)
- Metropolitan Planning
MAP-21 eliminated many previously used (and earmarked) discretionary programs, but many of the eligibilities are covered in other programs: Delta Region Transportation Development, Ferry Boats Discretionary, Highways for LIFE Demonstration Program, Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment
Interstate Maintenance Discretionary, National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation, National Scenic Byways Public Lands Highway Discretionary, Railway-Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination in High Speed Rail Corridors, Transportation, Community, and System Preservation, and Truck Parking Pilot Program.