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). Funding surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, MAP-21 is the first “long-term” highway authorization since SAFETEA-LU was enacted in 2005. Since its expiration in 2009, transportation funding has been provided through a series of short-term extensions that have created a pervasive sense of uncertainty within our industry, limiting investment and innovation. MAP-21 is advertised as a streamlined, performance-based program created to address safety, maintain infrastructure condition, reduce traffic congestion, improve efficiency, protect the environment, and reduce delays in project delivery.
While a dedicated funding source for our transportation system is reason enough to celebrate, those in the roadway preservation industry are especially happy. For the first time in our history, Congress has passed a surface transportation bill that codifies the use of pavement preservation on federally funded projects. MAP-21 provides an annual average of $10 billion in flexible funding to be used by States and localities for projects to preserve or improve conditions and performance on Federal-aid highways as well as bridge projects on any public road. This is a considerable leap forward from the time when federal aid funding was not allowed on any preservation or repair project only a few decades ago. In my opinion this is a step in the right direction that is obviously driven by these tight economic conditions we are experiencing. In a mere two years we will again face the daunting task of producing yet another surface transportation authorization and I suspect that pavement preservation and all of us involved in this great industry will play an even stronger role moving forward.