National Highway System Questions & Answers
Posted 9/25/2012, Updated 1/15/2013
Question 1: Will all principal arterials that are not currently on the NHS be automatically added to the NHS, effective October 1, 2012?
Answer 1: Yes, principal arterial routes that are not currently on the NHS before October 1, 2012, will automatically be added to the NHS provided the principal arterials connect to the NHS. [23 USC 103(b) (2)(1)(B) as amended by Section 1104 of MAP-21] The automatic addition of the identified principal arterial routes to the NHS will be a onetime occurrence. Future additions to the NHS of eligible principal arterial routes after October 1, 2012, will follow procedures currently outlined in 23 CFR Part 470.
Question 2: How will the States be notified about the updated NHS?
Answer 2: The FHWA, through our Division Offices, will notify the States of the updated NHS via a memorandum and will post new NHS maps online by October 1, 2012.
Question 3: Should States work with Division Offices to make any desired changes to the existing classification of principal arterials prior to October 1, 2012?
Answer 3: Yes. Pursuant to the FHWA's September 5, 2012, memorandum, States were advised to work with their respective Division Offices to review roads classified as principal arterial within the State and identify any functional classification changes needed to the principal arterial system. A listing of any changes to the classification of principal arterials and the subsequent Division Office approval of any changes your State may request was due to the Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty by September 20, 2012.
Question 4: What criteria will be used to determine which principal arterials will be automatically added on the NHS?
Answer 4: The FHWA will determine which principal arterials will be automatically added to the NHS by following current criteria for adding a route to the NHS under 23 CFR 470.113. Under this regulation, the route must meet the criteria in 23 CFR 470.107(b), which provides that the NHS shall consist of interconnected urban and rural principal arterials and highways which serve major population centers, international border crossings, ports, airports, public transportation facilities, other intermodal transportation facilities, and other major travel destinations; meet national defense requirements; and serve interstate and interregional travel.
The criteria under 23 CFR 470.113 also require proposals for additions to the NHS to consider the guidance contained in Appendix D to 23 CFR Part 470. The FHWA will follow the guidelines of Appendix D, except that the FHWA will not require the route to connect at both ends to other routes on the NHS. Rather, the FHWA will add a principal arterial to the NHS if it connects only at one end. Requiring a connection at one end will continue to meet the regulatory requirement that the NHS be interconnected. The FHWA will initiate a rulemaking to update the guidance contained in Appendix D to 23 CFR Part 470 at some future date.
Question 5: Before October 1, 2012, what do States need to submit to FHWA?
Answer 5: States are not required to submit any documentation, such as formal letters, principal arterial maps, or route listings, prior to October 1, 2012 in order for facilities that are currently classified as principal arterials to be included on the NHS. For facilities that are not currently classified as principal arterials, FHWA Divisions will work with States to make the necessary classification changes (see Q&A #12 below).
Question 6: What information will FHWA use to update the NHS maps?
Answer 6: The FHWA will use the principal arterial coding from the 2011 Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) to update the NHS maps. For those States where the 2011 data year is not currently available, in the interim, FHWA will use the principal arterial coding from the 2010 HPMS data submission. However, after October 1, 2012, when the updated NHS maps are officially released, the State should follow procedures under 23 CFR 470.113 to make further/future modifications to the System (except that principal arterials will only need to connect at one end). At that time, a formal submittal with supporting documentation will be required.
Question 7: Will the Divisions have to screen the additions?
Answer 7: No, the automatic addition of the identified principal arterial routes to the NHS, effective October 1, 2012, will be a one-time occurrence (based on the data contained in the 2011/2010 HPMS submission) and will occur without Division Office screening. After October 1, 2012, the Divisions will need to screen any proposed modifications to the NHS.
Question 8: Should Division Offices encourage the States to start designating all principal arterials as part of the NHS?
Answer 8: No, FHWA will use State-submitted 2011 HPMS data to identify principal arterials to include in the updated NHS. For some States where the 2011 data year is not currently available, in the interim, FHWA will use the principal arterial coding from 2010 HPMS data submission.
Question 9: Will principal arterials connected to the NHS be eligible for National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funding? [23 USC 119(c) as amended by Section 1106 of MAP-21]
Answer 9: Yes, as of October 1, 2012, principal arterials that are on the NHS and that connect to the NHS will be eligible for NHPP funding.
Question 10: Is there a restriction on mileage under the updated NHS?
Answer 10: No, effective October 1, 2012, there will no longer be restrictions on maximum NHS mileage.
Question 11: Will new NHS Intermodal connector miles that meet the Federal intermodal connector designation criteria, outlined in Appendix D to 23 CFR Part 470, be automatically added to the NHS (that becomes effective on October 1, 2012)? [23 USC 103(b)(2)(1)(C) as amended by Section 1104 of MAP-21]
Answer 11: No. To add intermodal connectors to the system, the State will follow procedures outlined in Appendix D of 23 CFR Part 470 to identify connectors to qualifying intermodal terminals. The State will submit a request to (through the FHWA Division Office) FHWA HQ for review and approval.
Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET)
Question 12: Will new STRAHNET route/connector miles that meet the Federal STRAHNET route designation criteria, outlined in 23 CFR Part 470, be automatically added to the NHS (that becomes effective on October 1, 2012)? [23 USC 103(b)(2)(1)(D) and 23 USC 103(b)(2)(1)(E) as amended by Section 1104 of MAP-21]
Answer 12: No, additional STRAHNET route/connector miles will not be automatically added to the NHS. The State will follow procedures outlined in 23 CFR Part 470 to add STRAHNET routes/connectors. Requests for STRAHNET modifications (including additions/deletions) require coordination among FHWA, the Surface Deployment Distribution Command (Department of Defense), and the impacted State(s).
Question 13: Will the Division Offices' current authority to approve functional classification changes extend to approving NHS changes?
Answer 13: No, the Division Offices' role in the determination and approval of functional classification will remain the same. The FHWA HQ retains approval authority for NHS changes. After October 1, 2012, all further modifications to the NHS will follow the procedures outlined in 23 CFR 470.113 with approval by the Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment, and Realty (via HEPH-20).
Question 14: Will the request to change functional classification occurring after October 1, 2012 be automatically treated as a request to add to the NHS?
Answer 14: No, typically, the approvals for functional classification changes and NHS changes require two separate approval actions. The Division Office approves the functional classification change and FHWA HQ approves the NHS change. The FHWA HQ reviews a route modification request (with respect to criteria outlined in 23 CFR Part 470) to determine whether the proposed segment "enhances the national transportation characteristics of the NHS." The State should coordinate with the Division Office to submit a concurrent functional classification change and NHS change request. However, Division Office approval of the upgrade to a principal arterial must occur before FHWA HQ can approve an NHS addition.
Question 15: Will the functional classification changes that occur prior to October 1, 2012 but are not reflected in the 2011 HPMS data, be automatically considered a part of the NHS?
Answer 15: Yes, these approved principal arterials will become part of the NHS without an approval action by FHWA. However, the State should coordinate with FHWA HQ (through its Division Office) to identify these additional principal arterials approved after the 2011 HPMS data submission to be included into the NHS. For principal arterial approvals that occurred before October 1, 2012, but are not reflected in the updated NHS (effective October 1, 2012), the State should coordinate with FHWA HQ (through its Division Office) to identify and include these additional principal arterials to the NHS. Any approved changes submitted by the States to the FHWA by September 20, 2012, are reflected in the maps released on October 1, 2012.
Outdoor Advertising and Junkyards
Question 16: How will the new definition of the National Highway System affect a State's responsibility to provide control of outdoor advertising? [23 USC 131 as amended by MAP-21]
Answer 16: MAP-21 Section 1104 results in the addition of road segments to the National Highway System. Because these new segments are now part of the National Highway System, States will be responsible for control of outdoor advertising along these new segments. The penalty for not providing effective control of outdoor advertising remains at 10 percent of the funds that would otherwise be apportioned to the State under section 104.
Question 17: How has MAP-21 changed a State's duty to control junkyards? [23 USC 136 as amended by MAP-21]
Answer 17: A State must now control junkyards located along highways on the National Highway System. Section 1404(b) amends section 136 of title 23 to include effective control of junkyards along all highways on the NHS, including the Interstate Highway System. Effective control, as defined by 23 U.S.C. 136(c), means that junkyards must be screened by natural objects, plantings, fences, or other appropriate means so that it is not visible from the main travel way of the system or must be removed from sight. The penalty for not providing effective control of junkyards, however, has been reduced by section 1404 from 10 percent to 7% of the funds in section 104(b)(1) through (5).
Question 18: Can segments of congressionally designated future Interstate routes be included in the Interstate System without a connection to the existing Interstate System?
Answer 18: Yes, if a segment of a congressionally designated future Interstate route identified in Section 1105(e)((5)(A) of ISTEA, as amended, meets Interstate design standards and is planned to connect to an existing Interstate System segment by 25 years of the enactment of MAP-21 on October 1, 2012, it can be included on the Interstate System. Request for addition of these routes will follow procedures outlined in 23 CFR Part 470.
Question 19: Do National Highway System (NHS) design standards apply to highways added to the NHS by MAP-21? (added 1/15/2013)
Answer 19: Yes. The design requirements of 23 CFR Part 625 apply to projects on the NHS. Accordingly, the NHS standards adopted by FHWA (currently the 2004 AASHTO Green Book) apply to new and reconstruction projects on the NHS, including NHS routes added by MAP-21. Design standards for resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (3R) projects that have been agreed to by the State DOT and FHWA Division Administrator will apply to 3R projects on these routes.
Question 20: For highways that have been added to the National Highway System (NHS) under MAP-21, what is the effective date that projects are required to comply with the NHS design standards? (added 1/15/2013)
Answer 20: The effective date was October 1, 2012. If the applicable Federal or State environmental finding, determination, or decision (under 23 CFR 771.105 or equivalent State legislation) was completed prior to October 1, 2012, the project will not need to comply with NHS design standards. If a Federal or State environmental review is not required for the project, the project will not need to comply with NHS design standards if the final design was complete prior to October 1, 2012. All other projects must comply with NHS standards or receive approval for design exceptions.