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MAP-21: Re-Authorization and the Effects on Transportation Logistics

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 04/22/2014 | 5:25 AM

Guest Post By Rico Fleshman, Corporate and Strategic Manager for Transportation, Logistics and Supply Chain at American Public University

The first federal, multi-year transportation bill enacted since 2005, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), was signed into law in July 2012. The bill funded surface transportation programs for FY-13 and FY-14 at just over $105 billion and transformed the national transportation investment framework to allow for increased growth and development of the country’s transportation infrastructure. Or so it would seem.

MAP-21 has been wrought with scrutiny and detractors since being enacted and has been deemed by some as little more than a stop-gap measure by a Congress that has been hard pressed to agree on anything.  But while there are critics of the legislation, there are also proponents from the transportation industry who see the improvements, requirements, consolidations, and assumed efficacy of the first iteration as critical building blocks to an opportunity to create long-term visions for funding infrastructure improvements, national transportation safety, and mobility, freight movement and to bring solvency to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). MAP-21 is set to expire September 30 of this year unless extended by Congressional action.

So what does all of this mean for transportation logistics--freight forwarders, 3PLs, warehouse providers, ports, rail, etc? In short, a great deal. With U.S. freight traffic and transit usage  rising to record levels and growth expected to continue well past 2030, MAP-21 provides the framework for regulations and funding for programs that impact all transportation providers, from small private truck operators all the way up to global corporations.

In a four part series, I will examine those critical elements MAP-21 that have had and will have the greatest impact to the transportation logistics industry and look at factors in the industry which have driven the creation and enforcement of that policy. Specifically, I will take an in depth look at the impacts of a two year bill instead of a four or five year bill.

MAP-21 predecessors, including the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA, 1991-1997), Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21, 1998-2003), and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU, 2005-2009) were all multiple year bills. Does having a two year bill create uncertainty in the transportation logistics market for providers who need to hire and train their workforce? Invest in technology? Plan and fund long-term projects? Ship globally through U.S. Ports?

MAP-21 consolidated the number of federal transportation programs in an attempt to focus resources and hedge duplicative programs. The result was the creation of new core programs, such as the National Freight Network Program (NFNP) and additional responsibilities and funding for existing core programs such as the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). I will look at the NFNP’s ability to establish processes that will effectively empower states to improve the movement of freight on highways and intermodal connectors to assist companies in the transport of their goods.

I will also look at the impact of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) enactment of 17 statutory requirements for freight movers, including the “hours of service” rule, the increased broker bond, and the forthcoming recommendations on rail car design and construction standards and the implications for rail companies who transport hazardous materials.

Finally, I will look at the HTF. The HTF is funded in part through taxes on gasoline, truck and trailer sales, heavy vehicle use, and heavy truck tires.  The proceeds are used to pay for highway improvements, highways and motorcarrier safety, and intermodal and transit programs. The HTF has been over-spending for years, has had several infusions of billions of dollars from the General Fund. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, at current levels of spending and without reform, the Highway Trust fund will reach a shortfall by mid-2015.

Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed a budget that aligns HTF spending with incoming revenue and proposes innovative financing solutions for transportation infrastructure and safety programs.  Proponents of HTF reform have urged the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is responsible for re-authorization of the nation’s transportation bill, to consider a range of reform options including raising and indexing the gas tax.  

The policies set forth by lawmakers have an indelible impact on our transportation systems. It is no small task and is done with paramount concern for the public safety and in the interest of transportation related commercial, private, and public entities that need to move people and freight around the nation. In my next post, I will explore how the term of a bill impacts the ability of transportation logistics to do just that.    


Rico Fleshman is the Corporate and Strategic Manager: Transportation, Logistics and Supply Chain for American Public University. He has worked with numerous transportation associations and has extensive knowledge of federal and state transportation policy, funding, metropolitan planning processes and regulatory compliance of transportation programs.  



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About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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