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On July 6, President Barack Obama signed long-awaited surface transportation reauthorization legislation into law.  The new law, known as MAP-21, replaces legislation that expired in 2009 and had forced lawmakers to pass a series of short term extensions in order to keep funds flowing to state transportation agencies. 
The new law authorizes $105 billion in funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs through late 2014 and streamlines several key programs and environmental review requirements.

According to a New York Building Congress review of MAP-21, New York State will receive approximately $3.3 billion in capital funding for its roads and bridges and another $2.9 billion for transit programs over two years.  This level of funding is slightly greater than provided by the law’s predecessor, SAFETEA-LU, but not enough to keep pace with inflation.

On an annual basis, MAP-21 provides about $1.6 billion per year for the State’s roads and bridges.  Under SAFETEA-LU, funding for State roads averaged $1.5 billion per year, though that amount had increased to $1.7 billion in 2012, which employed the prior funding formula.

Mass transit funding will likely remain level as well.  MAP-21 authorizes $8.5 billion nationally in 2013 and $8.6 billion in 2014.  New York State will receive just over $1.4 billion per year, which must be distributed among all of the State’s mass transit operators.  The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s expects to receive $1.2 billion per year of the formula funds.

Insufficient funding from traditional sources has forced the MTA to rely increasingly on debt to finance critical infrastructure needs and the first major system expansion in seventy years.

Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said, “New York State needs long-term commitments in order to build and maintain our vital transportation networks.  This legislation is a good start, but it has become increasingly clear that we cannot count on federal funding to underwrite the State’s enormous capital needs.  We need to look for stable alternative revenue sources.”

The State’s highway and transit programs are also eligible for federal discretionary funds, which have the potential to add considerably to the State’s transportation budgets.  For example, MAP-21 expands the Transportation Innovation Finance and Investment Act (TIFIA) credit assistance program eight-fold, to $1 billion, by 2014.  The flexibility inherent in TIFIA has already enabled several major projects, including the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, which needed creative financing to get off the ground.

Finally, MAP-21 makes significant changes to the federal environmental review process, all of which are intended to reduce or eliminate review times and allow agencies to begin some work prior to completion of the review process.  The bill also offers financial incentives to states to fund alternative project delivery methods, including CM-at-risk, and permits “innovative financing.”

Mr. Anderson added, “MAP-21 addresses many of the challenges of managing public projects by encouraging innovation and accelerating project delivery times.  However, in the final analysis, New York’s transportation infrastructure needs more money than is provided here.  This bill should mark the beginning of a serious conversation about transportation funding and how to preserve what is the backbone of our economy.”

What You Can Do:

Contact members of New York’s Congressional delegation and let them know that the State urgently needs more federal funding for its roads, bridges and mass transit network.

Contact New York members of the U.S. House of Representatives
Contact New York members of the U.S. Senate


Aug 2012