Effective October 1, 2012, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) is a $120 billion two-year bill that includes a dramatic restructuring of transportation programs and processes. These changes will affect the various transportation funding programs and project review and delivery that have proven to be immensely beneficial to historic preservation projects over the past 20 years. MAP-21 is still a viable source of funding for historic preservation-related projects, and preservationists need to become familiar with the new programs and policies of the law and be creative in thinking about how to access available funds.
What MAP-21 Means for Historic Preservation
When SAFETEA-LU expired on September 30, 2009, Congress passed a series of extensions to keep transportation projects and programs funded. Overall lack of funding and an inability to reach consensus about key elements of the bill led to lengthy debates and ultimately the reauthorization of only a two-year bill instead of a five- or six-year bill, which will mean a quick turnaround for the next reauthorization. After nearly three years of extensions, negotiations, drama, and suspense, the transportation reauthorization legislation known as MAP-21 was finally signed into law (P.L. 112-141).
The law addresses the overarching goals of lawmakers—to reduce spending, consolidate programs, accelerate project delivery, and focus on safety, performance measures, and reinvestment in aging infrastructure. During bill consideration, historic preservation programs and protections faced dire threats that would have been devastating to the preservation movement including the evisceration of Section 4(f). Due to the hard work of many, the modifications to preservation programs and protections were not as far reaching as they could have been.
However, it is incumbent on preservationists to be aware of the following changes contained within the new law:
- Dedicated funding for the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program and the National Scenic Byways Program was eliminated.
- The Transportation Enhancements Program was restructured into the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Certain projects, for example the acquisition of scenic easements, are no longer eligible for funding.
- Overall the funding for the TAP has been reduced and the dedicated set-aside eliminated, which has profound consequences for funding historic preservation projects.
- Certain projects are excluded from environmental review procedures.