On July 6, President Obama signed the long-awaited Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill, known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (“MAP-21”), concluding a much delayed and highly controversial process—at least for the time being, since the bill is unusually short-term for a Highway Bill. Its provisions run through September 30, 2014.
It terms of truck-weight reform, the significant points are:
The bill calls for the federal Department of Transportation to study the safety and infrastructure impacts of high-productivity trucks (considering both length and weight reforms).
This study is to begin within 45 days of the passage of the authorizing legislation (that is, by August 20, 2012) and conclude no later than 24 months after it begins.
Thus, by law, DOT must report the study’s conclusions by August 20, 2014 (41 days before the provisions of MAP-21 expire).
But Congress will likely get more than 41 days to assimilate the study’s conclusions, since transportation reauthorization processes typically have many delays.
Our allies in Congress will doubtless remind DOT of the firmness of these statutory deadlines. It is important that the results of this study be available to Congress before it needs to act on a successor to MAP-21 and that a lack of research not be raised as an impediment in the next reauthorization process.