Implementation Guidance for the Federal Lands Access Program
Updated: 4/18/2013 - Questions and Answers have been moved to separate document.
The purpose of this document is to provide general guidance for implementing and administering the Federal Lands Access Program (Access Program) under 23 U.S.C. 204, established under Section 1119 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Public Law 112-141.
The goal of the Access Program is to improve transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to, or are located within Federal lands. The Access Program supplements State and local resources for public roads, transit systems, and other transportation facilities, with an emphasis on high-use recreation sites and economic generators. The program is designed to provide flexibility for a wide range of transportation projects in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. A Programming Decisions Committee (PDC) within each State will make programming decisions and should develop a multi-year program of projects.
The Access Program complements the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP). It also complements other Federal programs for transportation improvements, such as the Defense Access Roads program in 23 U.S.C. 210 and the Forest Development Roads and Trails program in 23 U.S.C. 205. It recognizes the importance of safe and seamless access to and within Federal lands. Receipt of Access Program funding by a State or local government does not affect the overall responsibility for construction, maintenance, and operations of the facilities. That responsibility continues to lie with the State or local government that owns and operates the facility.
Funds made available under the Access Program shall be used to pay the cost of:
- transportation planning, research, engineering, preventive maintenance, rehabilitation, restoration, construction, and reconstruction of Federal Lands Access Transportation Facilities located on or adjacent to, or that provide access to, Federal land, and-
- adjacent vehicular parking areas;
- acquisition of necessary scenic easements and scenic or historic sites;
- provisions for pedestrians and bicycles;
- environmental mitigation in or adjacent to Federal land to improve public safety and reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity;
- construction and reconstruction of roadside rest areas, including sanitary and water facilities; and
- other appropriate public road facilities, as determined by the Secretary;
- operation and maintenance of transit facilities; and
- any transportation project eligible for assistance under title 23 that is within or adjacent to, or that provides access to, Federal land.
In regard to (B) above, "operation and maintenance of transit facilities" includes the operation of all components of a transit system, including vehicles.
The eligibility under (C) above includes transit capital projects eligible under Chapter 53 of title 49, United States Code, that are also eligible under title 23 and that are within or adjacent to, or that provides access to, Federal lands open to the public
Period of Availability
The funds made available under this program will be available for the current year plus three additional years.
Transportation Planning and Funding
Section 1119 of MAP-21 requires the Secretary to implement transportation planning procedures for Federal lands and tribal transportation facilities that are consistent with the planning processes required under sections 134 and 135 of title 23. These processes are based on "3-C" principles: comprehensive, continuous, and cooperative. Likewise, Section 1119 of MAP-21 builds upon past requirements for FLMAs to carry out transportation planning and programming development processes.
The Access Program provides another opportunity for additional inter-governmental cooperation in transportation planning, programming, and decision-making. This process provides FLMAs their first formal opportunity to influence the long-term direction of the Access Program.
Through cooperation with the FLMAs, the PDC may nominate/establish priority Access Program roads, transit systems, and other transportation facilities within the State. The statute requires that preference be given to the projects and facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to, or are located within high-use Federal recreation sites or Federal economic generators, as identified by the Secretaries of the appropriate Federal land management agencies.
In regard to (A) under the "Eligibility Requirements," prior to distribution of FLTP and Access Program funds, the Secretary may set aside up to 5% of funds each fiscal year from both programs for necessary activities to implement the programs, such as system-wide transportation planning, asset management, transportation system inventory, and condition data collection. These activities must be funded out of this set-aside, and not with other Access Program funding.
Programming Decisions Committee
The PDC, responsible for the Access Program programming decisions in each State, must be comprised of a representative of:
- The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA);
- The State Department of Transportation; and
- An appropriate political subdivision of the State.
The representative for local governments should be from an organization or entity that is suited to represent the local entities responsible for building, operating, or maintaining transportation facilities that are located on, are adjacent to, or provide access to Federal lands. The local representative should work cooperatively with representatives of local public transportation providers that provide access to or within Federal recreation areas within the State.
Depending on State law, such entities could include the Association of County Engineers or Officials in many States. In States with only one or two Federal facilities, the local interests may best be represented by the Metropolitan or Regional Transportation Planning Organization, whose jurisdiction includes the Federal area. In other States where the predominant Federal facility is adjacent to a gateway community, the municipality or other local entity may be the appropriate representative. Regardless, the local representative should represent local interests for access to Federal lands statewide. The local representative may not be affiliated with or work for the Executive Branch of the Federal or State government. The FHWA will work with the State DOT to identify an appropriate local representative.
The PDC in each State should develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that may be part of a Statewide Program Agreement. Such procedures may include the following
Solicitation and Coordination
- The FLH Division Office will issue calls for projects to State and local facility owners, as necessary to develop and maintain the TIP.
- The PDC notifies the FLMAs to support the required consultation between FLMAs and the State and local governments.
- State and local facility owners should cooperatively engage with the respective FLMAs to identify FLMA priorities for access to and within Federal lands within the State. FLMA priorities should be consistent with the statewide long-range plan.
- Facility owners submit proposed projects in a standard form. A web-based system may be used to facilitate the process. The FLH Division Office may request supplementary information they deem necessary.
Project Selection Criteria
Project selection criteria should be based on the following:
- Before any joint discussion or final programming decision, did the PDC cooperate with the applicable FLMA?
- Is the project endorsed by the pertinent FLMA(s) as a high priority?
- Does the project provide access to Federal high-use recreation sites or Federal economic generators?
- Is the project consistent with the owner's long range transportation plan and is it consistent with the FLMA and other planning efforts in the State and/or region?
- Does the project improve safety while improving access to a Federal facility?
- Can the project be realistically completed based on the scope, schedule, and budget proposed?
- Does the project sponsor have the ability to meet the local match requirements?
Open communication and transparency with FLMAs are key tenets within this guidance. Joint discussions between the PDC and FLMAs are required prior to selecting projects. State and local sponsors should consider projects that are supported and endorsed by the appropriate FLMA(s). If more than one priority project is identified by an FLMA, the Federal agency should delegate establishment of priorities to their headquarter, regional, or State office as appropriate. The FLH Division Office will ensure that the competing Federal priorities are clear and that preference is given to those projects considered most important by the appropriate FLMAs.
The PDC should consider the selection criteria and FLMA input to optimize the use of the statewide Access Program funds. After a multi-year program of projects is developed, it becomes the Access Program TIP and must be approved by FHWA and included in the overall Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The FLH Division Office should promptly inform all FLMAs of programming decisions and/or changes made by the PDC. If public transportation projects are proposed in the Access Program TIP, FHWA will consult with the appropriate Federal Transit Administration regional office prior to final approval of the TIP.
In the initial years of the program, the PDC may consider funding needs of ongoing Forest Highway projects that are eligible for Access Program funding. Likewise, the PDC may consider funding for continuing NEPA and other project development activities on eligible Forest Highway projects that are appropriate candidates for Access Program funding.
Refer to the Reporting Requirements section in this Guidance on page 9.
Local Match Requirement
The Federal share payable shall be in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 120. The sliding scale provision of 23 U.S.C. 120(b) may apply for States with higher percentages of Federal lands. See Sliding Scale Rates In Public Land States.
Funds authorized for the Tribal Transportation Program (23 U.S.C. 202) and the Federal Lands Transportation Program (23 U.S.C. 203) may be used to pay the non-Federal share of any project funded under title 23 or chapter 53 of title 49 that provides access to or within Federal land or tribal land. However, Access Program funds may NOT be used as such a match.
Other Federal funds not authorized under titles 23 or 49, may also be used to pay the non-Federal share of any transportation project funded under title 23 or chapter 53 of title 49 that is within, adjacent to, or provides access to Federal land.
"Soft-matches" or "in-kind matches" (e.g., donations of funds, materials, services, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation) may be permitted from the project sponsor. A tapered match may be appropriate, where FHWA is doing the preliminary engineering and contract administration. The match requirements and commitments should be documented in the project agreement.
- Federal-Aid Guidance Non-Federal Matching Requirements (HTML / PDF 64 KB)
This memorandum establishes uniform Federal-aid policy guidance for matching Federal-aid highway program (FAHP) projects.
- Memorandum: Information: Tapered Match on Federal-aid Projects, December 29, 2009 (HTML / PDF 23 KB)
- 23 U.S.C. 120: Federal share payable
- 23 U.S.C. 132: Payments on Federal-aid projects undertaken by a Federal agency
- 23 U.S.C. 323: Donations and credits
Statewide Program Agreement
A Statewide Program Agreement should be developed and executed in each State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The agreement should identify PDC representatives, program roles and responsibilities, legislative and regulatory authorities, and other pertinent policies that address how the program will be coordinated. The agreement should be updated as the PDC determines appropriate, particularly when there is a change in local representation on the committee.
A Project Agreement between the pertinent agencies should be developed prior to initiating NEPA and other project development activities. Generally, the FLH Division Office will initiate the agreement, although the State or local government may initiate the agreement for projects they administer. The Project Agreement should generally include: 1) scope, 2) schedule, 3) budget, 4) roles and responsibilities, 5) maintenance commitment by the Cooperator, 6) match requirements and strategy for administering and tracking, 7) coordination with pertinent FLMAs, and 8) other, as determined by the PDC.
Building a Multi-Year Program
The basic approach in making programming decisions should be consistent in all States. Details will vary, depending on the specific circumstances, however, programming decisions should be made that will enable the PDC to build a multi-year program that maximizes and strategically makes the best use of Access funds. Generally, the PDC should meet as necessary for overall coordination and for establishing and maintaining the multi-year program. The PDC shall cooperate with FLMA representatives before any joint discussions or finalizing programming decisions. To do this, the PDC may invite FLMA representatives to participate in annual meetings, as they deem appropriate. In some States, it may be appropriate for the PDC to establish a FLMA Technical Advisory Committee. This is similar to the process used by many MPOs to solicit feedback from Federal stakeholders.
Allocations are based on the formula in MAP-21 and are subject to being reduced each year by applicable rescissions, set-asides, or any other limitations cited in law. This includes the off-the-top reduction up to 5 percent for transportation planning.
The PDC should be positioned to make programming decisions during the first year of the Act. Allocations for each State will be made to the appropriate FLH Division Office at the start of each Federal Fiscal Year and will be pro-rated during any Continuing Resolutions. Each FLH Division Office will administer the funds as determined by the PDC.
Transfers or "Loan" Provisions
Upon agreement, the Secretary may loan funds authorized under FLTP and the Access Program between recipients of funds within those programs or between the two programs, in order to accumulate funds for packaging larger projects.
An agreement should be developed and signed by the pertinent parties to document any loan arrangement. The terms of such agreement will, among other things, include a repayment term. The entity provided the loan (borrower) must pay back the funds to the (lender) from unobligated balances of funds that have not lapsed that are available to the recipient for the program to which or within which the loan was made, whether current year funds or carryover balances.
Although not mandated by MAP-21, the PDC in each State should provide an annual accomplishment report detailing programming decisions, accomplishments, and budget information (e.g., implementation, construction, preliminary engineering, and construction engineering). This tool will also provide national program managers and FLMA partners with data to ascertain how and where the Access Program funds are being obligated and expended nationally. Guidance on the format of the report will be provided by FHWA.
Within 6 months of October 1, 2012, the PDC should:
- Identify PDC representatives.
Within 12 months of October 1, 2012, the PDC should:
- Complete standard operating procedures and the Statewide Program Agreement. Provide copies to all the FLMAs within each State.
- Solicit formal feedback from FLMAs for prioritizing State and local roads and facilities.
- Announce an Access Program project solicitation to develop a short-term program of projects (1-2 years) to continue advancing projects while PDC works to develop a multi-year program (4 years minimum).
End of FY 2013 - Maximize obligation of funds through borrow/loan agreements with other States or FLTP program, if needed.
Within 2 years of October 1, 2012, the PDC should:
- Develop and adopt a long-range transportation plan, or strategy, for utilizing Access Program funding in each State.
- Develop and adopt a multi-year TIP, covering at least 4 years.
End of FY 2014 - All borrow/loan arrangements should be fully reimbursed, unless MAP-21 is reauthorized or extended beyond FY2014.
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(3)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)
 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(7) (The term Federal Lands Access Transportation Facility means "a public highway, road, bridge, trail, or transit system that is located on, is adjacent to, or provides access to Federal lands, for which title or maintenance responsibility is vested in a State, county, town, township, tribal, municipal, or local government").
 23 U.S.C. 204(a)(1)(A)
 23 U.S.C. 201(b)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 201(c)(1)
 23 C.F.R. 450.300
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(3)
 23 U.S.C. 201(c)(7)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)
 23 U.S.C. 201(c)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C 201(c)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(3)
 23 U.S.C. 201(c)
 23 U.S.C. 201(b)(7)(B)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 201(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 120(k)
 23 U.S.C. 120(j)
 See 23 U.S.C 323 and 49 C.F.R. 18.24 (c)-(e)
 23 CFR 630.108(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 204(c)(2)
 23 U.S.C. 201(e)
 23 U.S.C. 201(e)(2)