Highway Planning and Construction

Federal-aid Highway Program: To assist State transportation agencies in the planning and development of an integrated, interconnected transportation system important to interstate commerce and travel by constructing and rehabilitating the National Highway System (NHS), including the Eisenhower Interstate

credit: aei-ideas
System; and for transportation improvements to most other public roads; to provide aid for the repair of Federal-aid highways following disasters; to foster safe highway design; to replace or rehabilitate deficient or obsolete bridges; and to provide for other special purposes.

This program also provides for the improvement of roads in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S.

Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Alaska Highway.

The Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP), as an adjunct to the Federal Aid Highway Program, provides assistance to the Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMAs) for Federally owned roads.

It provides transportation engineering services for planning, design, construction, and rehabilitation of the highways and bridges providing access to federally owned lands.

The Federal Lands Highway organization also provides training, technology, deployment, engineering services, and products to other customers.

Agency - Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation's mission is to ensure fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation that meets vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

Office - State-level division offices of the Federal Highway Administration (as listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog) or State transportation agencies.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

The Federal-aid Highway Program has made significant contributions to the safer operation of the nation's highways, to the better intermodal connectivity of roads to other forms of transportation, and to the improvement of pavement and bridge conditions throughout the country, while helping to safeguard environmental conditions. It has provided funding for a wide range of alternatives to traditional highway construction projects to better serve transportation needs. It has developed and advanced critical new technologies, such as Intelligent Transportation Systems, and shared them with the States. The FLHP works to create the best transportation system in balance with the values of the Federal and tribal lands. The mission of the program is to improve transportation access to and within Federal and tribal lands and provide technical services to the highway community.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Federal-aid highway funds are generally apportioned by statutory formulas to the States.

They are generally restricted to roads open to the public and not functionally classified as rural minor collectors or local.

Exceptions to this highway functional classification restriction include: planning and research activities; bridge, bicycle and pedestrian, and safety improvements that may be on any public road; transportation enhancement activities; the recreational trails program (see program 20.219); safe routes to school, nonmotorized transportation, the FLHP, and public transportation improvement.

The FLHP is not a grant program.

For highway projects, funds may be used forenvironmental studies, engineering and design services, right-of-way acquisition and relocation assistance, and construction for capital improvement projects classified as new construction, reconstruction, restoration, rehabilitation, and resurfacing, or for functional, geometric, or safety reasons.

Funds may also be used for planning; research, development, and technology transfer; intelligent transportation systems projects; roadside beautification; wetland and natural habitat mitigation, traffic management and control improvements; improvements necessary to accommodate other transportation modes, development and establishment of transportation management systems; billboard removal; construction of bicycle facilities and pedestrian walkways; fringe and corridor parking; car pool and van pool projects; transportation enhancements such as scenic and historic highway improvements; and recreational trails.

Funds generally cannot be used for routine highway operational activities, such as police patrols, mowing, snow plowing, or maintenance, unless it is preventative maintenance.

Also, funds authorized for the NHS, Surface Transportation Program (STP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, Equity Bonus (BE) program, and some additional programs may be used for mass transportation improvements; CMAQ funds are limited to projects and programs in air quality, non-attainment and maintenance areas for ozone, carbon monoxide, and small particulate matter that reduce transportation related emissions.

Eligibility criteria for the programs differ, so program guidance should be consulted.

Projects in urban areas of 50,000 or more population must be based on a transportation planning process carried out by a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in cooperation with the State and transit operators, and the projects must be included in metropolitan transportation plans and improvement programs.

Projects in non-metropolitan areas of a State must be consistent with a statewide transportation plan.

Projects in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas must also be included in a fiscally constrained Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) developed as part of the required statewide transportation planning process.

The FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) must approve the STIP jointly.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

By law, the Federal-aid highway program is a federally assisted State program that requires each State to have a suitably equipped and organized transportation department.

Therefore, most projects are administered by or through State transportation departments (State DOTs).

Projects to be funded under the Federal-aid highway program are generally selected by State DOTs or MPOs, in cooperation with appropriate local officials, as specified in 23 U.S.C.

and implementing regulations.

Territorial highway projects are funded in the same manner as other Federal aid highway projects, with the territorial transportation agency functioning in a manner similar to a State transportation department.

Most FLHP projects are administered by the FHWA Office of Federal Lands Highway and its Divisions or by the various FLMAs.

Under the FLHP, projects in the Indian Reservation Road (IRR) Program are selected by Tribal governments and are approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Federal Highway Administration.

Due to recent legislation, Tribal governments meeting certain requirements may now administer various IRR projects on behalf of the BIA and FHWA.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Park Service (NPS) select projects in the Refuge Road and Park Roads and Parkways programs, respectively.

For the Forest Highway Program, the Forest Service, the States and the Federal Highway Administration jointly select projects.

Beneficiary Eligibility

State transportation departments, and in some instances, Federal agencies, other State agencies, local agencies, and private, community-based organizations.


Eligible activities and allowable costs will be determined in accordance with Title 23 and the OMB cost principles applicable to the recipient/sub-recipient.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

An environmental impact assessment is required for most projects under this program, although the level of review varies with the project.

Projects under the FLHP have similar requirements; however, an interested applicant would need to contact the designated FLMA or the local FLH Division for more information.

Application Procedures

In general, projects/programs proposed for funding must be included in a fiscally constrained STIP, submitted by the State DOT, and approved jointly by the FHWA and the FTA. In addition, the State DOT may need to submit statements of work or plans, specifications, and estimates for certain proposed projects to the FHWA division office located in each State for approval. The FHWA has an agreement with each State that details the extent to which the State assumes the responsibilities of the FHWA for projects in that State. For projects on the Interstate System costing more than $1 million, FHWA oversight of design and construction is required. For projects that are on the National Highway System but not on the Interstate System, the State may assume the responsibilities of the FHWA for oversight of design and construction, unless the State or the FHWA determines that such assumption is not appropriate. For projects that are not on the National Highway System, the State shall assume the responsibilities of the FHWA for oversight of design and construction, unless the State determines that such assumption is not appropriate. For the discretionary portion of public lands highways, State DOTs submit desired projects to the FHWA division office located in each State. Following the appropriate project selection process, a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the Park Roads and Parkways, Forest Highway and Refuge Road programs is developed by one of the Federal Lands Highway Division offices, and forwarded to the respective State for inclusion in the appropriate MPO TIP and STIP. For the Indian Reservation Roads program, a TIP is submitted to the FHWA Office of Federal Lands Highway for approval and then forwarded to the respective State for inclusion in the appropriate MPO TIP and STIP. Projects under the FLHP are subject to the metropolitan and statewide planning requirements.

Award Procedures

The State DOTs generally decide which projects will be developed within funding levels but the FHWA division office located in each State makes the final decision on the eligibility of specific projects. There are several categories where funding is allocated at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation and administered by the FHWA. Candidate projects for discretionary allocations are usually solicited before the start of the Federal fiscal year (October 1) and must be submitted by the State DOTs. FHWA approval of a project and execution of a project agreement constitute a commitment to pay the Federal share of the project's allowable costs. Projects administered by the FHWA Office of FLH or the FLMAs are subject to procurement processes identified in the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Project awards are subject the availability of funds.


There are no deadlines for applications for projects using apportioned funds. For discretionary project allocations, applications are usually considered late in the fiscal year before the year for which the funds are available. Allocations to specific projects are generally made early in the fiscal year. Contact Federal agency for deadline date(s). All allocations are made through the State DOT, which is advised of schedules for submission of candidates.


Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Public Law 109-59, 23 U.S.C. 101 et seq., as amended.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 1 day to 5 months.





Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Most Federal-aid highway funds are distributed by statutory formula. Eligibility requirements for most programs are also determined by legislative criteria. Some categories, including part of the bridge and Interstate Maintenance funds, are distributed on a discretionary basis. The normal maximum Federal share is 90 percent for the EIS projects, and 80 percent for most other projects. The Federal share for some programs may be increased in the case of States with large areas of Federal lands. Some projects, including territorial highway projects, FLHP projects, certain safety improvements, and emergency relief projects require no matching of Federal funds.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Federal-aid highway funds generally become available at the beginning of the fiscal year for which they are authorized and must be obligated within 3 years after the close of that fiscal year. However, some categories of funds are available until expended.

Post Assistance Requirements


Except for projects that a state has oversight responsibility for, the FHWA division office in each State monitors and reviews State projects and programs during highway project location, design and construction.

After the project is completed State maintenance of the project is reviewed periodically.

Certain non-construction activities, such as transportation planning, require periodic progress reports.

Similar procedures apply to the FLMAs and FLHP projects with the FHWA Office of FLH providing the mandatory stewardship and oversight.

A value engineering analysis or other cost-reduction analysis is required for each project on the Federal-aid system with an estimated total cost of $25,000,000 or more, a bridge project with an estimated total cost of $20,000,000 or more; and any other project determined to be appropriate.

Annual financial plans are required for projects with an estimated total cost of $100,000,000 or more.

In addition, a project management plan must be submitted for projects with an estimated total cost of $500,000,000 or more.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations, nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards from all sources during their fiscal year must have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Project records and documents must be retained by the State or other governmental recipients/ subrecipients as specified in 49 CFR Part 18 or by non-profit recipients/subrecipients as specified in 49 CFR Part 19. For the Federal Lands Highway Program, the Federal Lands Highway Divisions maintain the project records.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $34,154,000; FY 08 est. $40,068,000; and FY 09 est. $37,849,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

From $100,000 to $3,505,000,000. Average $700,000,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

23 CFR, "Highways" and 49 CFR, "Transportation", and 2 CFR, Grants and Agreements. http://www.fhwa.gov.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

State-level division offices of the Federal Highway Administration (as listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog) or State transportation agencies.

Headquarters Office

For Forest Highways, Indian Reservation Roads, Refuge Roads, and Park Roads and Parkways, contact the Associate Administrator for Federal Lands Highway, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, Room E61-202, S.E., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Telephone: (202) 366-9494. For all others, contact the Director, Office of Program Administration, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Telephone: (202) 366-0494.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

To be eligible, most projects must be located on public roads that are not functionally classified as local. The major exceptions are the Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program, which provides assistance for bridges on and off the Federal-Aid highways; highway safety activities; bicycle and pedestrian projects, transportation enhancement activities, the recreational trails program, and planning, research, development, and technology transfer. Proposed projects meeting these and other planning, design, environmental, safety, etc., requirements can be approved on the basis of State and local priorities within the limit of the funds apportioned or allocated to each State.

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