FHWA Statutory and Regulatory Requirements:
Common LPA inquiries deal with the subject of federal-aid funding. Federal-Aid highway funds are authorized by Congress to assist the States in providing for construction, reconstruction, and improvement of highways and bridges on eligible Federal-Aid highway routes and for other special purpose programs and projects. The principal statutes establishing the Federal-Aid Highway Program are found in Title 23, United States Code (23 U.S.C.). Regulatory requirements are generally found in Title 23, Highways, of the Code of Federal Regulations (23 CFR).
FHWA has developed a document titled the Guide to Federal-Aid Programs and Projects. This guide provides basic information about the Federal-Aid programs, projects, and other program information such as funding shares, regulatory references, background and history. The guide is intended to provide basic information for FHWA and State personnel involved in the administration of the Federal-Aid Highway Program. This guide should be of interest to FHWA, State Transportation Agencies (STAs) , LPAs, and private sector personnel interested in a basic understanding of Federal-Aid programs, projects, or other program characteristics.
It is noted that most of the funding for federally funded LPA projects will come from the Surface Transportation Program (STP), the Highway Bridge Program (HBP), and the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)
Another common LPA inquiry and concern is compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Compliance with NEPA is a vital compliance milestone in project eligibility, development and funding. Compliance with NEPA can serve an LPA well if utilized in guiding one with planning, alternative selection, design parameters, etc. The Environment Toolkit provides information, guidance, and resources as it pertains to topics on environment and transportation.
An additional common LPA inquiry pertains to local public agencies and others who receive Federal-aid highway funds for projects involving the acquisition of real property. One set of project activities eligible for Federal-aid funding involves the acquisition of real property and the relocation of residents, businesses, and others.
Concern for fair and equitable treatment in acquiring private property for public purposes goes back to the beginnings of the United States. The founding fathers placed a high value on the protection of private property. The United States Constitution expresses this philosophy in the Fifth Amendment, where "due process" and "just compensation" are required for taking private property for a "public use." The 14th Amendment to the Constitution extends to States the requirement of following due process when they acquire privately owned property.
There are several reasons that the Federal Government retains a deep interest in the acquisition of real property for federally assisted projects. The most important is ensuring that the Fifth Amendment mandates of due process and just compensation are met when property owners are affected by Federal-aid projects. Another is the goal of acquiring property without delaying the project for which it is needed. Finally, the Federal government is concerned that Federal tax dollars used to fund public improvement projects are spent in an appropriate fashion.
The primary law for acquisition and relocation activities on Federal or federally assisted projects and programs is Public Law 91-646, The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended, commonly called the Uniform Act.
General guidance and information for matters pertaining to right-of-way is available at the Realty LPA Homepage. Specific guidance is contained in the document titled Real Estate Acquisition Guide for Local Public Agencies.
The Office of Real Estate Services has made a concerted effort to bring more visibility as well as provide assistance in the administration of the Federal-Aid Local Public Agency program area. Through a series of on- going research activities, information has been developed and posted on the FHWA Realty web site as an LPA Toolkit. The Toolkit was developed based on a report titled Local Public Agency Programs: State of the Practice Research in the Development of LPA Stewardship and Oversight Strategies. The Toolkit contains a series of research reports and a toolkit to provide information that will assist our State partners in their stewardship and oversight efforts. Also available is an Office of Real Estate Services LPA recorded webinar pertaining to the Toolkit and an available downloadable copy of the presentation.
- LOCAL AGENCY PROGRAMS: State of the Practice Research in the Development of LPA Program Stewardship and Oversight Strategies
The Office of Real Estate Services encourages sharing of these resources with your interested colleagues. We also encourage you to share questions and ideas that you may have about this topic with the speakers featured in the webinar. Their contact information is located in the presentation.
Matters pertaining to the complexity of federal-aid project contracts are the fourth area of common inquiry. Understanding federal-aid contract provisions, administrative procedures, and applicable policies related to federal-aid design and construction contracts are vitally important to assure LPA compliance.
A document titled the Contract Administration Core Curriculum Participant's Manual and Reference Guide is essentially a training course student manual which also serves as a very useful reference guide.