What's Happening in the Area

New Transportation Law
07.20.2012

MAP-21 Signed Into LawOn Friday, July 6, President Obama signed the new transportation bill, MAP-21, into law. His signature came 1,010 days after the previous transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, first expired. On a macro level, the legislation sets aside funding for transportation projects throughout the country for the next two years, giving state departments of transportation a greater ability to plan ahead and take an active approach on infrastructure projects rather than a reactive approach.

The legislation makes significant changes to the project planning process, allowing for projects to be completed more quickly. MAP-21 also authorizes transit program funding for the states.

The MAP-21 legislation covers 2 years, FY 2013 and FY 2014. It takes effect October 1, 2012, and the current transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, has been extended until then. The funding is flat over the two years for a total of $105 billion. MAP-21 consolidates over 100 federal highway and transit programs into just a handful of programs.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) is authorized at existing spending levels, but starting in 2013, all CMAQ projects will require a 20% local match. Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) such as TransOptions have traditionally used this funding source for community shuttle programs. Under the new legislation, telecommuting, ridesharing, carsharing, alternative work hours and pricing projects will also be made eligible.

Though the original Senate version of MAP-21 included restoration of the transit pretax benefit to $240 per month, that boost was left off the final version of the law. Congress may address the issue at the end of the calendar year, but the benefit currently remains at $125 per month.

What it means for New Jersey:

In the current fiscal year, New Jersey received over $960 million in federal transportation funds. $104 million of that was apportioned for CMAQ, $26.4 million for safety programs, and $4.7 million for Safe Routes to Schools.

In fiscal year 2013, CMAQ is pared back to $99.9 million, while safety programs, Safe Routes to Schools, and recreational trail project funding is combined into a category named “Transportation Alternatives.” These programs were hit with what amounts to a 25% cut. Transportation Alternatives in New Jersey receive $17.5 million out of the $962.4 million apportionment.

This cut, while substantial, is not necessarily a detriment to New Jersey’s bicycle and pedestrian programs. Since the state has historically been a leader on issues of pedestrian and bicycle safety and infrastructure, it is not yet clear how much the cut will impact these efforts.

In fiscal year 2014 the programs are adjusted for inflation: $100.7 million is apportioned for CMAQ, and roughly $17.8 million for Transportation Alternatives.

The state may transfer unused Transportation Alternatives funding to the $190 million Surface Transportation Program after 1 year and 10 months of non-use.

New Jersey will receive roughly $506 million for transit projects in fiscal year 2013 and just shy of $514 million in fiscal year 2014. This is the fourth largest amount of transit funding behind New York, California and Illinois.