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Environmental Review Toolkit
 

Federal Transportation Authorizations

Every Federal program or activity, including the Federal-aid highway program (FAHP), requires legal authority to operate. The authorization act provides that authority, along with related funding. An authorization is a statutory provision that establishes or continues a Federal agency, activity, or program, and can be for either a fixed or indefinite period of time. Authorizing legislation for highways began with the Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916 and the Federal Highway Act of 1921. These acts provided the foundation for the FAHP as it exists today. Multi-year authorization acts have subsequently continued the FAHP. Since 1978, Congress has passed highway authorization legislation as part of larger, more comprehensive, multi-year surface transportation acts that covered Federal-aid transit funding as well. Recent Federal Transportation Authorizations include:

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (Public Law 117-58, also known as the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” (BIL) ) was signed into law on November 15, 2021. BIL is the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and economy in our Nation’s history.

FAST Act

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law on December 4, 2015, was the first Federal-aid law in over a decade to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment.

MAP-21

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) was signed into law on July 6, 2012, with an effective date of October 1, 2012. MAP-21, a two-year funding bill, was an interim measure to continue Federal-aid highway, transit, and safety programs while Congress continued debating long-term reauthorization resulting in the FAST Act. 

SAFETEA-LU

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) became law on August 10, 2005. In addition to funding authorizations, SAFETEA-LU included provisions aimed at improving efficiency in highway programs and project delivery.