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Monday, September 17, 2012

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century

By Laura Douglas
ADOT Office of Public Information 

In the world of transportation, rarely does anything stay the same. Change brings with it new roads, bridges and infrastructure, plans and studies that tell us how to proceed in the future, and new legislation that maps out our transportation goals and objectives. 

On July 6, President Obama signed a two-year, $105 billion surface transportation bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21. The new legislation provides stable and predictable funding for surface transportation programs at current levels for the next two years, while streamlining programs and policies to make them more efficient. 

MAP-21, which officially goes into effect on Oct. 1, creates a streamlined, performance-based and multimodal program to address the many challenges facing the U.S. transportation system. These challenges include improving safety, maintaining infrastructure condition, reducing traffic congestion, improving efficiency of the system, protecting the environment, and reducing delays in project delivery. 

For transportation users in Arizona, MAP-21 will provide the means to enhance our state transportation system and build on a network of freeways, highways and multimodal systems and infrastructure that will carry us into the future. The Arizona Department of Transportation is currently working with the Federal Highway Administration, along with other federal and state partners and stakeholders, to determine the policies and procedures for implementing MAP-21 in Arizona. 

One of the most significant provisions of MAP-21 in Arizona is the federal designation of I-11 as a potential interstate corridor that would run from Phoenix to Las Vegas. Arizona and Nevada are currently working together and cooperatively funding a study to examine the feasibility of a new interstate corridor. The study is expected to begin soon and will last 18 to 24 months. 

While there is still more work to be done to determine the exact effects of MAP-21 in Arizona, the new legislation is already providing direction about the positive changes it will have on the state’s transportation network. In addition to providing stable and predictable funding through Fiscal Year 2014, MAP-21 consolidates programs and creates new core programs that provide for more flexibility for state DOTs. The new legislation also establishes greater performance measures for the states by setting national goals, provides greater linkage between the planning and environmental review process, and provides more funding to enhance highway safety. 

As we plan ahead for our transportation future, MAP-21 provides the guidance and the funding to establish new programs and projects that will enhance an intricate network of highways both here in Arizona and across the United States. Transportation never stays the same, and with the passage and enactment of MAP-21, more changes are most definitely on the way.

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