Oversight of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Implementation of MAP-21 and Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request for Surface Transportation
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Summary of Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
Hearing on “Oversight of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Implementation of MAP-21 and Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request for Surface Transportation”
March 12, 2014
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today’s hearing will focus on oversight of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s implementation of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, better known as MAP-21, and the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget request.
MAP-21 was signed into law by the President on July 6th, 2012, and authorizes the federal highway, transit and highway safety programs through September 30th, 2014. I was pleased to hear the Department intends to send a reauthorization proposal to Congress sometime in the near future. Reauthorizing these programs is a priority for the Committee and we look forward to reviewing the Department’s proposal.
MAP-21 consolidated or eliminated over 70 federal programs that were duplicative or were not in the federal interest. These changes provide greater focus on the core national systems and give our non-federal partners greater flexibility to meet their transportation needs.
MAP-21 made major reforms and improvements to the project delivery process. It currently can take almost 14 years for a transportation project to be completed if federal funding is involved, which is simply unacceptable. Some of the MAP-21 reforms include allowing federal agencies to review projects concurrently, penalties for agencies that don’t meet project review deadlines, and expanded categorical exclusions for projects in the existing right-of-way or with limited federal investment. These reforms will help cut bureaucratic red-tape and quickly deliver the economic and safety benefits of transportation projects.
The Department has started implementing these project delivery provisions and I look forward to discussing their progress.
MAP-21 also increased transparency and accountability by requiring states and transit agencies, in conjunction with Metropolitan Planning Organizations, to incorporate performance targets into their long-term transportation plans. These performance targets will help our non-federal partners focus their limited federal resources on projects that have the greatest benefits.
MAP-21 also created a program to provide relief for public transportation systems that were affected by a natural disaster or catastrophic failure. Previously, transit agencies had to work through FEMA to replace equipment or rebuild their systems after a disaster. But after Hurricane Katrina, transit agencies sought an emergency program similar to the Emergency Relief program operated by Federal Highway Administration. This program was utilized by the states and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Numerous trucking safety provisions were included in MAP-21, which reflects Congress’ commitment to keeping truckers and the traveling public safe. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is tasked with implementing new regulations on electronic logging devices, hazardous materials safety permits, a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial drivers, and motor carrier registration requirements related to unsafe reincarnated carriers. These regulations will keep drivers safe while maximizing the efficiency of the trucking industry.
Congress also recognized that new highway safety challenges have emerged. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is required to implement a national priority safety program that incentivizes states to pass and enforce laws that address important safety issues. The program focuses on impaired driving countermeasures, occupant protection, motorcycle safety, distracted driving, and graduated drivers licensing.
These reforms are only part of the sweeping changes made in MAP-21. I look forward to hearing from the Department on the progress it’s made implementing the reforms that I’ve highlighted and others that were included in MAP-21.
On March 5th, the President released his fiscal year 2015 budget request for the Department. The request also included the Administration’s vision for a four-year, $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill. I look forward to discussing the details of the budget request.