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Mission Sort-of Accomplished

Unless you have been living under – pun oh so certainly intended – a rock, for the past month or so, you know that Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Moving Ahead For Progress In The 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The legislative package will fund construction of the nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit for the next 27 months, and assures the employment of 3 million Americans in the construction industry.

This is good news. Hold up cue card. Clap, clap, clap.

But the news has been way too long in coming. Since the expiration of SAFTEA-LU in September of 2009, the industry has worked under the hand-to-mouth provisions of nine continuing resolutions. The fact that Congress could not move decisively on this issue is a legislative embarrassment.

But we have a bill in hand. Now that the applause has died down, it is time to address two important points. MAP-21 funds surface transportation at about current FY 2012 levels, adjusted slightly for inflation in FYs 2013 and 2014. Total funding for all surface transportation programs, including mass transit general funds, for FYs 2013 and 2014 is $105.201 billion and breaks down as follows (in billions):

  • FY 2013: $52.253.              FY 2014: $52.949.

Of these amounts, the highway program would receive the following (in billions of dollars):

  • FY 2013: $39.699.              FY 2014: $40.256.

That brings us to point one. The highway program is safe and secure for two years. The sooner this money flows to the states, and gets put to use rebuilding and repairing our roads and bridges, the better. It can’t happen soon enough. Aggregates producers, looking to take advantage of what will indeed be a minimum of two years of market stability, need to capitalize and ramp up now. MINExpo (see preview on page 24) is a great place to start.

And that brings us to point two. As I said, Congress, while it kicked the can down the road for the past two years, cobbled together nine extensions to keep transportation programs functional. MAP-21 can be looked upon as extension number 10.

This is no time to crack the champagne and get out the kazoos. Mission only sort-of accomplished. We must immediately go back to work and hold the feet of legislators to the fire and demand a long-term bill that is fully funded and provides the critical investment that America’s infrastructure needs to move boldly into the next few decades.

Mark S. Kuhar, editor
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Member: Construction Writers Association