'Bi-Partisan' Transportation Bill Now Law

President Obama signed the transportation bill known as MAP-21 on July 6 that also maintains low student loan rates, ending the three-year process of three-month extensions of SAFETEA-LU. He praised the bill as bipartisan and job-saving.

Keith Laing reports on the signing event of the $105 billion "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century bill that was initiated on March 25, 2009, several months prior to it's predecessor's expiration on Sept. 30. The new transportation law will last just over two years, expiring on Sept. 30, 2014. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act, signed by President George W. Bush on August 10, 2005, provided $244.1 billion for four years.

"Obama argued at the transportation bill signing on Friday that lawmakers in Congress should send him more bills like the measure he was signing into law...Obama has touted the highway bill as a jobs bill, and at the White House signing ceremony he was surrounded by construction workers and students."

In addition to funding transportation, the bill "also extends a 3.4 percent interest rate on student loans for one year and a flood insurance program for five."

"Supporters of the transportation portion of the bill touted it as a bipartisan compromise....Republican lawmakers also applauded the signing of the transportation bill."

"The bill becoming law today is the result of strong bipartisan and bicameral work by a number of my House and Senate colleagues," House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said in a statement released after he attended Obama's signing of the transportation bill."

Reaction of transportation advocates was measured.

AAA President Robert Darbelnet warned that "the public (will have) to pay more for the roads and bridges that they use."

Deron Lovaas, Natural Resources Defense Council federal transportation policy director, regretted that the bill "reduces public oversight of highway projects and cuts funding for transportation choices that would have reduced traffic while lessening our dependence on oil."

Meanwhile, the APA's Policy News blog has published the latest in a series of closer looks at the changes and new provisions of MAP-21. Friday's feature explored changes to Metropolitan Planning Organizations and performance measures. Of note: "The biggest change in the planning process is the creation of a new performance measures as part of the planning process [for Transportation Improvement Programs and long-range plans]. The law establishes performance measures within highway and transit programs and directs states and MPOs to establish targets and track progress."

Thanks to The Hill's E-news

Full Story: Obama signs highway bill

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