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FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / Highway Statistics 2003 - FHWA

Highway Statistics 2003 - FHWA


This publication brings together annual series of selected statistical tabulations relating to highway transportation in three major areas: (1) highway use--the ownership and operation of motor vehicles; (2) highway finance--the receipts and expenditures for highways by public agencies; and (3) the highway plant--the extent, characteristics, and performance of the public highways, roads, and streets in the Nation.

The arrangement of contents follows this general order, with the first three sections devoted to motor-fuel use and taxation, vehicle ownership, and driver licensing. The fourth section deals with financing of highways by all government agencies; the fifth section provides data on highway mileage and performance; the sixth section is a "general interest" section that includes selected international data, and metric tables.

Please note that tables marked with an asterisk in the Table of Contents are only available at our Internet website for viewing/downloading at www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi. (See Highway Statistics Series publications)

All highway data are submitted by the States. Each State is analyzed for consistency against its own past years of data and also against other State and Federal data. The finished product is as close as possible to the original submission with only minor adjustments. Major issues are resolved with the help of the data provider.

The cooperation of Federal, State, and local agencies in providing the basic data from which these statistical series are derived is acknowledged and greatly appreciated.

While the Office of Highway Policy Information is responsible for the preparation of this publication, a number of the statistical summaries are prepared by other units with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as indicated by notes on the tables involved.

Responsibility for administering the highway network of the United States, providing funds for its continued improvement and maintenance, and regulating its use is a complex affair involving Federal and State agencies, together with nearly 39,000 county, township, and municipal governments and, to a limited degree, the private sector. These agencies work in concert in many ways in the management of the Nation's highway plant.


The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Public Law 105-178, is the principal Federal legislation currently authorizing Federal highway programs for Fiscal Year 1998-2003. Prior to TEA-21, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) was the principal Federal highway legislation. It created the National Highway System (NHS) and other current Federal-aid highway categories.


The FHWA is the principal highway agency of the Federal Government. Under the Federal-aid highway program, the initiative for selecting routes eligible for improvement with Federal-aid funds rests with the States. These routes remain under the ownership of the State or local governments which are responsible for administering and maintaining them as part of the State or local highway systems.

The FHWA also administers the Federal Lands Highways Program. This program is funded from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and consists of three separate programs: Park Roads and Parkways, Indian Reservation Roads, and Public Lands Highways.

The Department of Defense provides funds for the construction of roads leading to military installations, etc., but these funds are usually transferred to the FHWA to manage the construction program.

Some Federal agencies also provide funds for road and bridge work which is incidental to their major functions. For example, the Corps of Engineers (Department of the Army) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Department of the Interior) expend funds for highway and bridge construction and reconstruction on projects involving water resources and navigable rivers. Other Federal agencies, such as the Forest Service, provide funds through a policy of sharing with States and counties some of the income derived from timber sales on Federal lands, a portion of which is placed in road funds.

Additional Federal funds are provided from the General Treasury to States, counties, and cities through the programs of other Federal agencies such as Urban Development Block Grants for various purposes including highways. The different Federal assistance programs for highway are summarized in the latest version of the FHWA publication, Highway Taxes and Fees, How They Are Collected and Distributed, Table F-106.

The Treasury Department's Internal Revenue Service collects the Federal road-user taxes and deposits the revenues in the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Amounts dedicated by Congress for mass transportation are credited to a separate mass transit account.


In the Federal Highway Administration's financial analyses, special State commissions and authorities, both toll and non-toll, as well as State highway and transportation departments, are classified as "Other State". Other executive branches of State governments also have been included when, and to the extent, they are responsible for the collection and distribution of road-user taxes or perform highway and related functions. Examples of these executive agencies are treasury and revenue departments, motor-vehicle departments, public-safety departments (highway police and low enforcement activities), and conservation departments when they are responsible for roads within State parks, forests, or reservations. The District of Columbia is treated as a State.


Local governments include: counties, townships, and municipalities. Included with local governments are subordinate agencies, road districts, commissions, and authorities, both toll and non-toll.

All States have organized county governments except Connecticut and Rhode Island. Counties, however, have limited or no responsibility for roads in the New England States, or in Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia (with some exceptions), and West Virginia. In Alabama and Maryland, the State has assumed responsibility for roads in certain counties. Counties are called parishes in Louisiana, boroughs in Alaska, municipios in Puerto Rico, and townships are towns in New England, New York, and Wisconsin.

A municipality is a political subdivision where a municipal corporation has been established to provide general local government for a specific population concentration in a specified area. Some counties have boundaries coextensive with cities. Generally, these counties retain their identities only for certain administrative purposes. Because some counties are entirely urban in nature or have merged with municipalities, they are classified as municipalities. A county may also be classified as a municipality when its area consists predominantly of incorporated cities, towns, and villages.

Although generally considered to be rural governments, many townships, particularly in the Northeast, serve heavily Populated areas and perform the functions of a municipal government.


The term "urban" is used in these summary tables is consistent with the Federal-aid legislation definition of an area. Such areas include, at a minimum, a census place with an urban population of 5,000 to 49,999 or a designated urbanized area with a population of 50,000 or more (or portions thereof within State boundaries). The Federal-aid boundaries are fixed by responsible State and local officials, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Transportation. These Federal-aid urban areas may extend beyond incorporated (with some exceptions) and census boundaries, and thus are not necessarily coextensive with municipal boundaries.


In general, the statistical series present summary data primarily on a State-by-State basis. However, in the highway finance section, special tabulations are included for individual toll authorities. The roadway extent section includes two tables detailing information for urbanized areas. Inquiries for information on a county-by-county basis should be directed to the respective State highway agencies.


Users of these data must be careful to avoid "double counting" of the statistical data that could result fro the effect of intergovernmental relationships. This is particularly so with reference to tables in the finance and mileage sections, because of the overlapping of Federal-aid activities with the State and local highway activities, and the effects of grant-in-aid programs. Examples are Federal-aid payments, which are in turn reported as State receipts and included in State expenditures; and Federal-aid highway system mileage, which are parts of the State and/or local highway systems, and are also included in those systems. Summary tables that give national statistics have been included at the beginning of the finance and mileage sections, and eliminate "double counting" or duplication. These are then followed by table series that reflect the transactions of each level of government, but which are not necessarily cumulative to national totals.

CONVERSION TO METRIC (Metric tables are available on our website)

In accordance with Public Law 100-418 requiring Federal agencies to use the metric system, we are also providing some tables in metric format (metric tables contain an "M" at the end of the title). The chart in the front of this book (back of the Technical Report Documentation page) may be useful in preparing your spreadsheets for metric/English conversion.

Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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