U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Home > Discretionary Grant Programs > Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program

2011 Discretionary Grant Programs

Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program - Selection Criteria/Additional Information


The Public Lands Highways Discretionary (PLHD) Program provides funding for transportation planning, research, and engineering and construction of, highways, roads, parkways, and transit facilities that are within, adjacent to, or provide access to Indian reservations and Federal public lands, including national parks, refuges, forests, recreation areas, and grasslands. PLHD funds can be used for any type of Title 23 transportation project providing access to or within Federal or Indian lands and may be used for the State/local matching share for apportioned Federal-aid Highway Funds, as described in 23 USC 120(l). The program is administered by the Federal Highway Administration's Federal Lands Highway Office.

The Public Lands Highways (PLH) Program was originally established in 1930 by the Amendment Relative to Construction of Roads through Public Lands and Federal Reservations. Funding was provided from the General Fund of the Treasury. The intent of the program is to improve access to and within the Federal lands of the nation. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 changed the funding source for the program from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund, effective in fiscal year (FY) 1972. The program has been continued with each highway or transportation act since then, and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, Public Law 109-59) continues the program through FY 2009.

More information on the PLHD Program may be found here: http://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/programs/plh/discretionary/

Statutory References:

23 U.S.C. 202, 203 & 204; SAFETEA-LU, Section 1101(a)(9)(D)

Period of Availability:

In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 118, PLHD funds shall remain available for obligation for three years after the last day of the fiscal year in which the project was authorized.

Federal Share:

In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 204(b), the Federal share of the costs for any project eligible under this program is 100 percent.


Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 202(b)(1)(A), the funds shall be allocated "among those States having unappropriated or unreserved public lands, nontaxable Indian lands or other Federal reservations, on the basis of need in such States." Since all of the States have some Federal lands, all are eligible to apply for PLHD funding. State government agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, and tribal governments may also apply through States.

In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(5), the PLH funds are available for "any kind of transportation project eligible for assistance under Title 23, United States Code, that is within, adjacent to, or provides access to" Federal lands or facilities. Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(1)(A), the PLH funds are available for transportation planning, research, engineering, and construction of the highways, roads, and parkways, and of transit facilities within the Federal public lands. Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(1)(B), the PLH funds are also available for operation and maintenance of transit facilities located on Federal public lands.

Under 23 U.S.C. 204(h), funds may be used to carry out eligible projects that include:

Priority Consideration:

The only statutory criterion is found in 23 U.S.C. 202(b)(1)(B): "The Secretary shall give preference to those projects which are significantly impacted by Federal land and resource management activities that are proposed by a State that contains at least 3 percent of the total public land in the United States." The following eleven States have at least 3 percent of the Federal public lands in the United States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

Project Selection Criteria

The Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH) has not established regulatory criteria for the selection of PLHD projects; however, FLH notes that the following criteria will also be considered in the evaluation of applicants for this program.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to coordinate applications with the State department of transportation and metropolitan planning organization to ensure proposals are consistent with statewide and metropolitan planning requirements. .Applicants other than State departments of transportation should talk with their State PLHD coordinator to determine whether their proposed project is eligible for funding consideration, and if their organization has the capacity to implement their proposed project using PLHD funds.

Applicants other than State departments of transportation should document that they are authorized to submit grant applications on behalf of their federal land management agency, metropolitan planning organization, or local or tribal government, and that the project has the support of such.

Applicants other than State departments of transportation should also demonstrate how they will meet the requirements of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 18, including financial management standards and audits. In addition, they should discuss how they will meet other Federal requirements such as Title 23 of the United States Code, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, environmental laws and standards including the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, the Uniform Relocation Act, and other applicable Federal laws and regulations.

Submission Requirements

The following information must be included to properly evaluate the candidate projects. The appropriate division office must submit the applications by electronic mail in Microsoft Word format. Those applications that do not include these items are considered incomplete and will not be considered in the evaluation selection process.

  1. State in which the project is located.
  2. County in which the project is located.
  3. U.S. Congressional District No.(s) in which the project is located. This is the U.S. Congressional District, not the State district.
  4. U.S. Congressional District Member's Name(s). This is the U.S. Congressional District representative, not the State legislature.
  5. Project Title This should be a very short project description that readily identifies the project, or is commonly used to describe the facility or project.
  6. State Priority The State department of transportation should rank each project submitted within the State as to priority. For example, if five projects are submitted within a State, they should be ranked 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest priority.
  7. Project Location Describe the specific location of the project, including route number and termini, if applicable. Also include appropriate local jurisdiction in which the project is located.
  8. Project Abstract Describe project work that is to be completed under this particular request, and whether this is a complete project or part of a larger project. (Maximum: 5 Sentences) Please note that your project abstract gets pulled into the Grants Notification System (GNS) and as such, your project abstract frequently serves as talking points and the basis of Congressional press releases. It is important that your project abstract succinctly describes how PLHD funds will be used to complete your project.
  9. Project Narrative This should include a list of the needs that directly tie into the program for the project and how each of those needs will be addressed by completion of the project. Project needs should also be clearly identified in context of PLHD eligibility, as well as other transportation benefits that will result from completion of the project, such as safety, "state of good repair," and livability (Maximum: 2 Pages)
  10. Amount of Federal PLHD Funds Requested Provide a budget that is reflective of the total cost of the proposed work by line item. Each line item should be associated with a completed task, deliverable, or outcome that contributes to the completed funding request. In the event that partial funding is available, this information will aid in the development of funding recommendations and provide the applicant the opportunity to fully complete individual components of the funding request. If the State is willing to accept partial funding of the request, that should be indicated. Partial funding along with the commitment of other funds will be used to determine leveraging of funds and allow funding to more projects since it is anticipated that requests will exceed the funding available.
  11. Commitment of Other Funds Indicate the amounts and sources of any private or other public funding being provided as part of this project. Only indicate those amounts of funding that are firm and documented commitments from the entity controlling the funds.
  12. Previous PLHD Funding Indicate the project name, amount and Federal fiscal year of any previous PLHD funds received for this project and current status.
  13. Project Administration Indicate whether the project is being administered by the State department of transportation, a Federal land management agency, Indian tribe, or a county or other local jurisdiction. This information is needed to determine to whom to allocate the funds if the project is selected for funding. If the project is to be allocated to other than the State department of transportation, indicate coordination with State department of transportation, the ability to act on behalf of the applicant jurisdiction, and ability to meet Federal funding requirements.
  14. Project Schedule The anticipated project schedule (assuming the requested PLHD funding is provided) is required. The schedule should show how the work will be commenced in the fiscal year for which the funds are being requested, and the anticipated completion date of the work. This can directly reference each line item in the budget. Applications should only be submitted for projects that are ready to advance if the funding request is met.

If the State desires to submit additional information, such as maps, pictures, copies of support letters etc., those items must be submitted electronically to the FHWA division office, who will submit them to Headquarters. This additional information should be identified by the State and Project Title that matches items 1 and 5 of the electronic application. These additional items are not required and should not be relied upon to meet the application submission requirements above, but serve only to illustrate the information provided in the narrative. Any support letters should be addressed and sent to the Federal Highway Administrator, who is the official ultimately responsible for selecting projects for funding.

Announcement of Awards / Allocation of Funds

After the applications are received, it is required that Congress be notified before the funds are allocated to the States. When this Congressional notification process is completed, the Federal Lands Highway Office will issue an announcement by email to all FHWA division offices, announcing the PLHD projects that will be funded and the amount of funding for each project.

At that time, States may request that funds be allocated for any projects for which the funds are ready to be obligated. The State transportation agency shall send an email to the FHWA division office indicating the project, the amount requested for allocation, and the date by which the funds will be obligated. The Federal Lands Highway Office will issue the allocation memorandum within a few days of receiving the allocation request.

State Transportation Agency Responsibilities:

FHWA Division Office Responsibilities:

FHWA Headquarters Program Office Responsibilities:

FHWA Headquarters Program Office Contact:

Cindi Ptak
Public Lands Highway Coordinator
Phone: (202) 366-1586
Fax: (202) 366-7495
Email: cindi.ptak@dot.gov

Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Accessibility | Web Policies & Notices | No Fear Act | Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse
U.S. DOT Home | USA.gov | WhiteHouse.gov

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000