Federal Highway Administration

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Federal Highway Administration
FHWA logo square.svg
Agency overview
FormedApril 1, 1967; 57 years ago (1967-04-01)
Preceding agency
  • Bureau of Public Roads
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., U.S.
Annual budget$46 billion (FY2019)[1]
Agency executives
  • Shailen Bhatt, Administrator
  • Andrew Rogers, Deputy Administrator
  • Gloria Shepherd, Executive Director
Parent agencyDepartment of Transportation

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a division of the United States Department of Transportation that specializes in highway transportation. The agency's major activities are grouped into two programs, the Federal-aid Highway Program and the Federal Lands Highway Program. Its role had previously been performed by the Office of Road Inquiry, Office of Public Roads and the Bureau of Public Roads.



The FHWA was preceded by several government departments and private organizations that oversaw the development of roads in the United States.

The Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) was founded in 1893. In 1905, that organization's name was changed to the Office of Public Roads (OPR) which became a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. The name was changed again to the Bureau of Public Roads in 1915 and to the Public Roads Administration (PRA) in 1939. It was then shifted to the Federal Works Agency which was abolished in 1949 when its name reverted to Bureau of Public Roads under the Department of Commerce.[2]

With the coming of the bicycle in the 1890s, interest grew regarding the improvement of streets and roads in America. The traditional method of putting the burden on maintaining roads on local landowners was increasingly inadequate. New York State took the lead in 1898, and by 1916 the old system had been discarded everywhere. Demands grew for local and state government to take charge. With the coming of the automobile after 1910, urgent efforts were made to upgrade and modernize dirt roads designed for horse-drawn wagon traffic. The American Association for Highway Improvement was organized in 1910. Funding came from automobile registration, and taxes on motor fuels, as well as state aid. In 1916, federal-aid was first made available to improve post-roads, and promote general commerce. Congress appropriated $75 million over a five-year period, with the Secretary of Agriculture in charge through the Bureau of Public Roads, in cooperation with the state highway departments. There were 2.4 million miles of rural dirt rural roads in 1914; 100,000 miles had been improved with grading and gravel, and 3000 miles were given high quality surfacing. The rapidly increasing speed of automobiles, and especially trucks, made maintenance and repair high-priority item. Concrete was first used in 1893, and expanded until it became the dominant surfacing material in the 1930s.[3][4]

Federal aid began in 1917. From 1917 through 1941, 261,000 miles of highways were built with federal aid, and cost $5.31 billion. Federal funds totaled $3.17 billion, and state-local funds were $2.14 billion.[a]


The FHWA was created on October 15, 1966.

In 1967, the functions of the Bureau of Public Roads were transferred to the new organization.

It was one of three original bureaus along with the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety and the National Highway Safety Bureau (now known as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).[6]


The FHWA's role in the Federal-aid Highway Program is to oversee federal funds used for constructing and maintaining the National Highway System (primarily Interstate Highways, U.S. Highways and most state highways). This funding mostly comes from the federal gasoline tax and mostly goes to state departments of transportation.[7] The FHWA oversees projects using these funds to ensure that federal requirements for project eligibility, contract administration and construction standards are adhered to.

Under the Federal Lands Highway Program (sometimes called "direct fed"), the FHWA provides highway design and construction services for various federal land-management agencies, such as the Forest Service and the National Park Service.

In addition to these programs, the FHWA performs and sponsors research in the areas of roadway safety, congestion, highway materials and construction methods, and provides funding to local technical assistance program centers to disseminate research results to local highway agencies.

The FHWA also publishes the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is used by most highway agencies in the United States. The MUTCD provides such standards as the size, color and height of traffic signs, traffic signals and road surface markings.


Long-Term Pavement Performance Program

Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) is a program supported by the FHWA to collect and analyse road data. The LTPP program was initiated by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) in the early 1980s. The FHWA with the cooperation of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) sponsored the program. As a result of this program, the FHWA has collected a huge database of road performance. The FHWA and the ASCE hold an annual contest known as LTPP International Data Analysis Contest, which is based on challenging researchers to answer a question based on the LTPP data.[8]

Every day counts initiative

The Every day counts initiative (EDC) of the FHWA planned in 2009 and started in 2011 is designed as the United States road infrastructure project of the 2010s decade to identify and deploy innovation aimed at reducing project build delivery time, enhancing safety and protecting the environment.[9][10][11] It also made a positive impact in accelerating the deployment of innovations.[12]

Five steps were scheduled from 2012 to 2020 and include various technologies and methods to improve travel time, safety, project and contract management, saving energy, risks, cost and environment resources.[13]

It started with reducing fuel consumption and improving travel time reliability by Adaptive traffic control, continued with implementing alternative intersections design and several money savings and anti-corruption strategies like independent reviewing of construction plans before construction is paid, also time saving strategies like right-of-way, on site bridge constructions as rapid bridge replacement.[14]


The Federal Highway Administration is overseen by an administrator appointed by the President of the United States by and with the consent of the United States Senate. The administrator works under the direction of the Secretary of Transportation and Deputy Secretary of Transportation. The internal organization of the FHWA is as follows:[15]

  • Administrator
    • Executive Director
      • Office of Infrastructure
      • Office of Research, Development, and Technology
        • Public Roads magazine
      • Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty
      • Office of Policy and Government Affairs
      • Office of the Chief Financial Officer
      • Office of Administration
      • Office of Operations
      • Office of Safety
      • Office of Federal Lands Highway
      • Office of Chief Counsel
      • Office of Civil Rights
      • Office of Public Affairs

See also


  1. ^ The total GNP at current prices, 1917 through 1941 = $2,227.2 billion, so these roads = 5.32/2.227.2 = 1/4 of 1% of GNP.[5]


  1. ^ https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hjres31/BILLS-116hjres31enr.pdf All articles with bare URLs for citations[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ Weingroff, Richard (September 28, 2017). "The Trailblazers: Brief History of the Direct Federal Highway Construction Program". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  3. ^ Faulkner, Harold U. (1951). The Decline of Laissez Faire, 1897–1917. pp. 233–236.
  4. ^ Dearing, Charles Lee (1942). American Highway Policy.
  5. ^ United States Census Bureau (1976). Historical Statistics of the United States. F1, Q64-Q68. pp. 224, 711.
  6. ^ "Highway Existence: 100 Years and Beyond". Public Roads. Federal Highway Administration. Autumn 1993.
  7. ^ "What is the Highway Trust Fund, and how is it financed?". Tax Policy Center. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  8. ^ "Transportation & Development Institute (T&DI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) International Data Analysis Contest". Federal Highway Administration.
  9. ^ Schroeder, Bastian; Cunningham, Chris; Ray, Brian; Daleiden, Andy; Jenior, Pete; Knudsen, Julia (August 2014). Diverging Diamond Interchange Informational Guide (PDF). Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety.
  10. ^ "EDC-1: Adaptive Signal Control Technology". Federal Highway Administration.
  11. ^ Dowsett, Emily (January 31, 2019). "APWA Announces Public Policy Priorities for 116th Congress" (Press release). American Public Works Association – via GlobeNewswire News Room.
  12. ^ "FHWA Launches Fifth Round of 'Every Day Counts' Program". For Construction Pros.
  13. ^ Therrien, Alan J. (January 1, 2018). Performance Measures for Alternative Project Delivery Methods on Highway Transportation Projects (Masters thesis). Boulder: University of Colorado Boulder.
  14. ^ "Every day counts initiative". Federal Highway Administration.
  15. ^ "FHWA Organization". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External links