Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA HomeFeedback
Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2004 Conditions and Performance
< Previous | Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Next >

Chapter 2 Executive Summary

System Characteristics: Highways

There were almost 3.98 million miles of public roads in the United States in 2002. This mileage was overwhelmingly rural and locally owned. About 3.08 million miles were in rural areas in 2002, or 77 percent of total mileage. The remaining 901,000 miles were in urban communities. There are 591,707 bridges in the United States.

Numerous trends are changing the extent and use of the American highway network. While total road mileage increased between 1993 and 2002, total rural mileage has decreased. This has been an ongoing trend, partly reflecting the reclassification of Federal roads and the growth of metropolitan areas throughout the United States.

In 2002 about 77.5 percent of the highway miles were locally owned, States owned 19.5 percent, and 3.0 percent were owned by the Federal Government.

Highway mileage by jurisdiction, 2002. Pie chart in three segments. Federal jurisdiction accounts for 3.0 percent, state accounts for 19.5 percent, and local accounts for 77.5 percent of highway mileage.

Americans traveled nearly 2.9 trillion vehicle miles in 2002. While highway mileage is mostly rural, a majority of highway travel (over 60 percent) occurred in urban areas in 2002. From 2000 to 2002, however, rural travel grew at a slightly faster average annual rate (2.8 percent) than urban travel (2.4 percent). This continues the trend noted in the 2002 C&P report. In the decade prior to 1993, urban travel growth rates were greater than rural. Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) nevertheless increased on every highway functional system from 2000 to 2002.

Percentage of Highway Miles, Lane
Miles, and Vehicle Miles Traveled by
Functional System, 2002
Functional System Miles Lane Miles Vehicle Miles Traveled
Rural Areas
Interstate0.8%1.6%9.8%
Other Principal Arterials2.5%3.1%9.0%
Minor Arterial3.5%3.5%6.2%
Major Collector10.8%10.4%7.5%
Minor Collector6.8%6.5%2.2%
Local52.9%50.6%4.9%
Subtotal Rural77.3%75.7%39.4%
Urban Areas
Interstate 0.3%0.9%14.3%
Other Freeway and Expressway0.2%0.5%6.6%
Other Principal Arterial1.3%2.3%14.3%
Minor Arterial2.3%2.8%11.9%
Collector2.3%2.3%5.0%
Local16.2%15.5%8.4%
Subtotal Urban22.7%24.3%60.6%
Total 100.0%100.0%100.0%

In recent years, growth in VMT has exceeded the increase in highway lane miles. Between 1993 and 2002, lane miles grew by 0.2 percent annually, while VMT increased by 2.5 percent annually. VMT for trucks grew faster between 2000 and 2002 than did VMT for passenger vehicles.

Highway mileage and travel, 1993-2002. Line chart showing trends for total highway mileage and vehicle miles traveled over time. The value for total highway mileage in 1993 is just under 4.0 million, and remains at or slightly above this value until 2002, when it reaches 4.0 million. The value for vehicle miles traveled is about 2.3 trillion in 1993 and increases steadily to about 2.9 trillion in 2002.
< Previous | Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Next >


FHWA Home | Feedback
FHWA