Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)

On July 6, 2012, after several years of negotiation on Capitol Hill, President Obama signed a two-year bill authorizing federal transportation programs. The final agreement incorporated provisions of a Senate-passed bipartisan bill, known as MAP-21. Following are some highlighted provisions of the legislation that most impact local governments.


  • Effective October 1, 2012; the law funds federal transportation programs until September 30, 2014

  • Includes funding for federally supported highway, transit and bridge programs

  • Funded at $105 billion each year—current levels plus inflation

  • Guarantees 95 percent return of federal gas taxes back to states

  • Transfers $18.8 billion in general funds (not gas tax revenues) to keep spending at current levels, despite shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund

  • Continues 80/20 highway-transit split

  • Restructures current highway program by eliminating or consolidating 60 programs, with authority to states for making decisions


  • Rejects efforts to change the structure, population thresholds for becoming and remaining an MPO; adds new requirement that MPOs include representation of public transportation providers

  • Creates new "regional transportation planning organization" for greater involvement of non-metropolitan area regions in planning

  • Establishes new performance measures as part of planning process to be developed in coordination with state and public transportation providers

  • MPOs would have 180 days to set regional targets once statewide goals are established and would include performance measure targets and anticipated impact of projects on reaching goals 

  • No formal role for MPO or local governments in new "national strategic plan" that identifies projects of national and regional significance

  • Creates a new $10 million planning pilot program for transit-oriented development that will provide funding to communities with a New Starts grant to do station area planning


Current Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to Schools and Recreational Trails Programs are folded into a new Transportation Alternatives Program at reduced levels. (Current law provides a 10 percent set-aside for transportation enhancements to be spent by the state on transportation alternatives such as bicycle path and pedestrian walkways). Combined, these programs would be funded at $800 million per year, a cut of more than 30 percent from the $1.2 billion allocated in FY 2011 for the individual programs.

States are only required to spend 50 percent of funding on "transportation alternatives" programs, funds suballocated based on population including funds to MPOs with populations of 200,000 and above.

  • States will first allocate funding from the "transportation alternatives" program to the Recreational Trails Program, unless they opt out of the program

  • Current funding for Safe Routes to School will continue through September 30, 2012

  • States can transfer up to 50 percent of "transportation alternatives" funding to other state programs

  • Transportation Enhancements Spending Report from the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse details states' use of federal funding under the transportation enhancements program at


  • Expands TIFIA finance program funding to $750 million in FY 2013 and $1 billion in FY 2014 from the current $122 million in loan funds available to finance transportation projects

  • Increases amount of a project that can be funded with loans and guarantees

  • Sets aside 10 percent for rural infrastructure projects, and eligible project cost floor lowered from $50 million to $25 million for rural projects

  • Adds project readiness eligibility standards requiring applicants to demonstrate they can begin contracting process for construction within 90 days

  • Sets deadlines for evaluating and processing applications

  • Establishes rolling approval process

  • Allows private funding as part of repayment stream

  • Extends repayment period from 35 years to life of the asset


Reforms process to reduce the time it takes to gain necessary approvals and build transportation projects, including expansion of projects characterized as "categorical exclusions" which are exempted from environmental assessment:

"Categorical exclusion means a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment ... and ... for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required." - 40 CFR 1508.4

"...They are actions which: do not induce significant impacts to planned growth or land use for the area, do not require the relocation of significant numbers of people; do not have a significant impact on any natural, cultural, recreational, historic or other resource; do not involve significant air, noise, or water quality impacts; do not have significant impacts on travel patterns; and do not otherwise, either individually or cumulatively, have any significant environmental impacts."

  • New categorical exclusions include: projects located within an existing right-of-way; projects receiving less than $5 million in federal funds or which cost less than $30 million in total; and projects damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster provided the replacement facility matches previous design

  • Expanded flexibility to begin project related activities prior to completion of NEPA

  • Expanded delegation of authority under NEPA to all states (from 5-state pilot) and expands to include rail, transit and multimodal projects

  • Multiple agency reviews to be conducted concurrently, rather than sequentially

  • Allows MPOs or states to develop programmatic mitigation plans

  • Allows DOT Secretary to design single lead agency in multimodal project

  • Sets financial penalties for agencies failure to meet deadlines

  • Sets four year deadline for completion of required permits, approvals, review or studies


  • Transit programs will increase slightly to $10.578 billion in FY 2013 and $10.695 billion in FY 2014, with some changes to the program

  • Urbanized Area Formula Grants will fund transit capital and planning projects and will now include the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program

  • Transit systems serving populations over 200,000 with 100 buses or fewer will have the ability to flex some capital funding for operating costs; smaller systems (between 76-100 buses during rush hour) may use 50 percent of their funds; and systems with 75 or fewer buses may use 75 percent of federal funds

  • The Bus and Bus Facilities formula program will change from a discretionary grant program to a formula program, and each state will receive a minimum allocation of $1.25 million

  • Grants to rural areas will increase, and eligibility expanded

  • A new State of Good Repair grant program will replace the Fixed Guideway Modernization Program, requiring new performance measures

  • Benefit for employee transit commuters to be on par with parkers not restored; transit advocates and employer groups hoped to restore this benefit to the $240/month level that expired at the end of 2011

  • Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants (New Starts/Small Starts) program authorized at $1.907 billion/year for FY 2013 and FY 2014 (below the $1.955 billion in FY 2012) streamlines project approval process; eliminates duplicative steps in project development and calls for quicker project review; modifies eligible standards to include new fixed guideway capital projects, small starts and core capacity improvements, as well as programs of interrelated projects

  • Corridor-based bus rapid transit projects that do not operate in rights-of-ways dedicated exclusively to public transportation are eligible for small starts funding


Created to help states and metropolitan areas meet federal air quality standards, funds projects that reduce congestion, improve air quality, and lower auto emissions. Funds are distributed based on population and air quality.
  • Conference agreement did not adopt Senate proposal to sub-allocate 50 percent of CMAQ funds directly to
    metropolitan regions in states with non-attainment areas under the Clean Air Act; the final bill dropped language providing for direct sub-allocation of funding

  • New law allows states to transfer up to 50 percent of CMAQ funds to other programs, an increase from the 21 percent transfer allowed under previous law

  • Conferees did not adopt House proposal to eliminate dedicated funding and eliminate restrictions on projects serving single occupant vehicles or the Senate proposal to combine Transportation Enhancements and CMAQ

  • Law requires regions with populations over 1 million to develop a performance plan outlining baseline conditions, targets for performance measures and a description of how funded projects will help meet air quality targets


  • Expands ability of states to use federal funds to construct new capacity, reconstruct, restore or rehabilitate highways on and off the Interstate System

  • Permits reconstruction or replacement of a toll-free bridge or tunnel and conversion to a toll facility

  • Removes provisions that reduced highway formula funds for states that sell or lease toll facilities to private companies


  • Establishes goals for a national freight policy

  • Requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a National Freight Strategic Plan

  • Allows DOT to increase the federal share from 80 to 90 percent for freight projects on the Interstate and from 80 to 90 percent for other freight projects if included in state freight plan
  • Encourages states to develop freight plans and freight advisory committees