Wednesday afternoon, Associated Equipment Distributors hosted a webinar discussing the new two-year, $105 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that was recently signed into law.
The webinar gave AED members a chance to get better acquainted with Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) and examine the kind of impact it will have on the equipment market as well as the next steps to be taken.
The webinar presentation said the 27-month bill, which spans the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years as well as the rest of the current 2012 fiscal year, is “a victory in the context of current circumstances.” In other words, while 27 months of stability isn’t the best outcome and is less than has been secured in the past, MAP-21 is better than some of the alternatives this time around.
Using a formula that figures each dollar spent on highways generates 6.4 cents of equipment market opportunity, the presentation estimated rougly $2.4 billion of equipment market opportunity for both fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
According to the presentation, the “environmental streamlining” the bill includes makes for the policy changes with the largest likely impact. The expanded ability for dispute resolution between federal agencies and the narrowing of the window for filing lawsuits to stop projects is expected to yield quicker project delivery and greater accountability on behalf of federal agencies to ensure projects are not delayed.
During the presentation, Jack Basso, the Chief Operating Officer of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said the the passage of MAP-21 ensures that states will be able to move several major projects over the next few years, including some that were in danger of being cut come October 1.
“I see a real renaissance in the next two years. I think you will have good reason to be very optimistic in your business,” Basso told those listening in.
Basso echoed the main presentation in reminding those listening that work on the next bill will begin soon as the main question remains, “How do we pay for the highway program going forward?” In the meantime, AED’s near-term objective is getting user fees into the mix in the upcoming tax reform debate in order to stablize the Highway Trust Fund before that next reauthorization debate begins.