- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
What are the Benefits/Goals of Highways For Life (HfL)?
The vision of the HfL program is "In 4 years, widely demonstrate dramatic improvement in the American driving experience." This will be achieved through realizing the program goals - improve safety, reduce congestion due to construction, and improve quality. The intent is to showcase highway projects that address all three of the goals and create a highway community culture that routinely achieves these goals. The HfL program was conceived as a way to "LEAP" ahead instead of "CREEP" along in the evolution of the practice of highway construction. In addition, HfL represents a smarter, more efficient and effective method of highway construction. Because higher levels of quality will be built into highways and bridges, maintenance, repairs, and rehabilitation will be less frequent. This reduced need for intervention translates directly to reduced life-cycle costs, and a higher return on the initial investment.
Is the goal to achieve greater use of existing tools to expedite projects?
Yes. HfL proposes to use existing tools, techniques, processes and procedures to expedite highway construction while achieving improved safety, reduced congestion and improved quality. Additionally, HfL will work with private industry to take proven tools and practices from other industries or internationally and adapt them for use by the U.S. highway community. We expect that as we "break the mold" there will be a cascading effect: new technologies and practices will continue to emerge across the country.
What involvement has there been with the Stakeholders (AASHTO, AGC, ARTBA, ATA, etc.)?
During the HfL development, 36 interviews were conducted to gather stakeholder input on accelerated construction practices, successes, costs, issues and concerns. This input was instrumental in forming the HfL approach and strategy. In the last two weeks of July, stakeholder groups consisting of highway owners, contractors, consultants, suppliers and users were briefed on the HfL program and they were very receptive and supportive.
If we have this knowledge, why are we not using it today?
There are excellent examples around the country where this knowledge has been applied. However, these practices and the benefits have not been as widely used as they could be. One of the HfL strategies is to use incentives to encourage the broader application of these technologies, practices and processes. We are certain that given time and at a "creeping" pace, these examples will become standard practice. However, we cannot afford the opportunity costs of not "leaping" forward.
What type of projects will be selected?
All types. We want to illustrate that these technologies and practices can be applied to small and large projects across the country.
What will indicate success?
In the near term, being able to point to a number of HfL projects that achieve improved safety reduced congestion due to construction and improved quality. Ultimately, success is when innovative technologies and practices are applied in routine construction, not just in special cases.
Is there any risk in HfL?
The financial incentives are provided for projects to encourage States to apply proven technologies and practices. However, there is a risk associated with the learning curve even when applying proven technologies. The incentives are intended to offset extra costs and the risk associated with using technologies for the first time. HfL will have an extensive technology transfer and technical assistant program to assist the learning curve.
How is HfL different from Asset Management?
Asset Management is a strategic approach to the optimal allocation of resources for the management, operation, and preservation of transportation infrastructure in a given state. HfL is about how best to construct an individual project and provides incentives to incorporate innovative technologies and practices.
Would HfL fund the development of new materials that currently do not exit?
No. HfL is not a research program to develop new materials. HfL is about deploying proven innovative technologies, materials, methods, or practices in highway construction projects, validating, marketing and promoting their effectiveness, and partnering with industry to bring new innovations to highway construction.
Would preventive maintenance be part of this initiative?
We expect HfL projects to focus on reconstruction or new construction where there is the opportunity to showcase improved safety, reduced congestion due to construction and improved quality. Preventive maintenance, preservation or rehabilitation, although not necessarily excluded, most likely will not effectively showcase the HFL goals.
What is the program cost and will it affect other programs?
Funding for the HfL $1 billion program is proposed as part of the Administration´s $247 billion reauthorization proposal. The proposal has funding authorization ending after the 4th year of reauthorization (i.e. $250 m/year for FY 04,05,06,07) for projects, industry partnerships, technology transfer and information dissemination and stakeholder input and involvement. Funding set aside for projects will remain available for allocation by the Secretary for a period of 3 years after the last day of the fiscal year for which the funds are authorized. Any funds not allocated shall be apportioned to the States in the following fiscal year in accordance with section 104(b)(3). Funds set aside for industry partnerships, technology transfer and dissemination, and stakeholder input and involvement will remain available until expended.
The current proposal does not affect the core apportionment programs in the Administration´s reauthorization.
What happens beyond the 4th year?
The HfL program does not end after the 4th year. It is possible that allocations for projects could continue into FY 08 depending on how fast allocations are made in the preceding fiscal years and also how fast states can develop eligible projects. Certain other activities such as technology transfer, evaluation/monitoring and marketing/communication would also continue. We would envision that results of the HfL program would help shape our next reauthorization proposal.