The passage of MAP-21: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21stCentury represents a real victory for the transportation community despite its numerous shortcomings. While the serious challenge of how to stabilize and increase funding into the Highway Trust Fund remains, the fact that a new transportation authorization act was finally passed and signed into law during a major election year after years of delay is significant.
Here’s why transportation advocates should take heart:
- The transportation bill was viewed and reported in the media as a “jobs bill.” This legislation was considered a genuine vehicle for creating and maintaining thousands of well-paying jobs in the construction industry and therefore an accomplishment that could be taken home just prior to the election. With the continued sluggishness of the economic recovery, solidifying the role of transportation investments as a vehicle for job creation is important.
- The final vote showed strong, bi-partisan support for the bill. Notwithstanding the fact that the bill also included a fix for the student loan interest rate problem and the reauthorization of flood insurance, the strong vote in the Senate for the original MAP-21 and the strong vote on the final bill demonstrate the need for transportation projects all over the country. Every state faces serious funding shortfalls for transportation infrastructure and every member of Congress knows of projects that need to get done.