- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
|Bridge / Structures / Research||Civil Rights||Construction / Engineering|
|Marine Highways||Planning / Research||Recreational Trails|
|Safety||Security & Emergency Preparedness|
The Bridge / Structures Program is responsible for directing and managing the Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (HBRRP), the National Bridge Inspection Program (NBIP), and the National Bridge Inventory (NBI). More information can be found at FHWA's Bridge Program.
The Civil Rights (CR) Programs ensure fair and equitable treatment of all persons employed or affected by FHWA and the programs and activities of its recipients, sub-recipients, and contractors, irrespective of race, color, religion (in the context of employment), gender, national origin, age, or disability. More information can be found at FHWA's Civil Rights Programs.
FHWA’s engineering staff is responsible for key areas involved in the design and construction of Federal-aid highway projects. Under the general direction of the Assistant Division Administrator, the Division staff consists of several engineers with different areas of expertise, such as bridge, construction, traffic control, pavements, and safety.
The engineering staff reviews and approves statewide design standards and construction standard specifications. Federal laws and regulations are interpreted to determine federal participation in project costs. FHWA engineers approve environmental documents on all major projects. They also conduct joint reviews with the Alaska DOT to improve the quality of Alaska’s highway program.
In addition to the roadway system, the engineering staff covers the Alaska Marine Highway System and a portion of the Alaska highway in Canada (Shakwak project).
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that all Federal actions, including Federal-aid highway projects, be evaluated for their impacts on the natural and human environments. All projects impacting wetlands are governed by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Those impacting historic or archeological areas are governed by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. All these statutes, and the FHWA regulations, require that the FHWA mitigate any adverse impacts to these resources.
The vast majority of highway projects in Alaska, as well as in the rest of the country, are typically determined to have no significant impact on the human environment (natural, economic, and social environments). Projects such as resurfacing, reconstruction, and the installation of signals, are typically "categorically excluded" from the preparation of extensive documentation. Projects not categorically excluded must undergo a more in-depth environmental evaluation. This process can result either in a "Finding of No Significant Impact" or the determination that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required. An EIS is a document that explains the purpose and need for a project, presents project alternatives, analyzes the likely impacts of each, explains the choice of a preferred alternative, and finally details measures to be taken in order to mitigate the impacts of the preferred alternative. EIS's are subject to public comment and hearings. After a final EIS is completed, FHWA issues a Record of Decision (ROD) detailing the alternative chosen and mitigation measures. More information can be found at FHWA Environment Program.
The Federal-Aid Highway Program is a reimbursable program; that is, the Federal Government only reimburses States for costs actually incurred. The authorized amounts distributed to the States represent lines of credit upon which States may draw as they advance Federally-assisted projects. This is in contrast to a grant program where the Federal Government issues a check up front for the entire estimated amount of a project. Funding for highway projects is drawn from the Highway Trust Fund which was created in 1956. Revenue for the Trust Fund is derived from dedicated highway user fees such as taxes on fuel, tires, and truck sales. Trust fund monies are distributed or "apportioned" to the States according to formulas written into authorizing legislation by Congress. These formulas are based on various factors including cost to complete the Interstate System, lane miles, vehicle miles of travel, population, historic levels of funding, and the States' share of receipts into the Highway Trust Fund.
The Division provides reimbursement to the State of Alaska for authorized transportation projects in accordance with the legislative requirements of financial assistance programs. We administer these programs through a set of flexible regulations, policies, and guidelines to ensure that Federal funds are being used efficiently and to achieve the safety, economic development, and other goals of the Federal-aid Highway Program. In providing these Federal funds, we apply the most flexible and innovative financing techniques permissible under the law, and the most efficient administrative processes. We provide the State with technical assistance on accounting and financial management systems, and funding of Federal-aid highway projects.
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is part of the National Highway System (NHS). The state’s fleet of ferry vessels provide year round accessibility to many of the cities throughout southeast, the Gulf of Alaska, and southwest Alaska
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 established a requirement for a statewide planning process. Among other things, the economic, energy, environmental, and social effects of transportation decisions must be considered in the planning process. The ISTEA strengthened the metropolitan planning process by giving more emphasis to intermodal planning, coordination with land-use planning and development, and consideration of economic, energy, environmental, and social effects. The integration of the transportation and air quality planning processes was also strengthened. The metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) must develop long-range transportation plans, and in the air quality non-attainment areas, coordinate with the development of the transportation control measures in the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for achieving air quality goals. Additional information can be found at FHWA's Intermodal and Statewide Programs
Highways affect people’s lives by improving safety and the way we move about our communities and county. We realize that to improve highways and carry out other transportation programs, some people's lives are disrupted because their land, home, or business may have to make way for a project. More information on FHWA’s Realty programs can be found here
The FHWA is responsible for carrying out several highway safety programs. These safety programs provide funding for projects which remove, relocate, or shield roadside obstacles, identify and correct hazardous locations, eliminate or reduce hazards at railroad crossings, and improve signing, pavement markings, and signalization. The Agency promotes and administers highway-related safety guidelines providing for the identification and surveillance of accident locations; highway design, construction, and maintenance; traffic engineering services; and highway-related aspects of pedestrian safety. In Alaska, we work closely with State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to improve the safety of the motoring public, pedestrians, and highway workers.
The FHWA works with other federal, state, and local agencies to enhance the traveling public’s security and the agency’s ability to respond to and recover from emergencies and natural disasters. FHWA has an active role in the Federal Emergency Management Administration's (FEMA) Alaska team during an emergency. Information on FHWA’s Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Relief programs, can be found by clicking the appropriate link.