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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 76 · No. 2 > Guest Editorial

September/October 2012
Vol. 76 · No. 2

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-12-006

Guest Editorial

Helping Local Public Agencies Deliver Federal-Aid Projects

Photo. Headshot of Jeffrey F. Paniati.The job of building, maintaining, and operating the national highway system entails a number of inherent challenges, not the least of which is the fact that most of the nearly 4 million-mile (6.4 million-kilometer) system is owned and operated at the local level. About three-quarters of the entire system, some 2.9 million miles (4.7 million kilometers), is managed by nearly 28,000 local public agencies, mostly counties, cities, and towns.

These agencies receive about $7 billion annually in Federal-aid funding, or roughly 15 percent of the entire budget for the Federal-Aid Highway Program. Along with administering the allocation of funding, local public agencies assume responsibility for adhering to all Federal laws and regulations governing the program. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and State departments of transportation (DOTs), in turn, are charged with supporting local public agencies in the delivery of transportation improvements, while ensuring appropriate use of public funds.

Assisting local public agencies requires FHWA and State DOTs to oversee and share information about a huge geographic distribution of local projects. Although some of the larger local public agencies are frequent recipients of Federal-aid highway funds and understand what is required of them, many smaller ones have less experience with the program. In the past, accurate information about Federal-aid requirements pertaining to local roads was scattered across various Web sites or buried deep within thick manuals. But not anymore.

FHWA, working closely with its State and local partners, recently launched an initiative called Federal-aid Essentials for Local Public Agencies. The initiative puts key information about Federal-aid requirements on a single public Web site at Local public agency staffers now have at their fingertips a centralized hub for guidance, policies, procedures, and best practices for administering Federal-aid projects.

The Web site's main feature is a resource library of some 80 videos covering most aspects of the process of project development and delivery. Available from any computer or mobile device with Internet access, the videos are short, concise, illustrated with graphics, and narrated in plain language. Each addresses a single topic within a critical focus area, such as finance, civil rights, environment, right-of-way, project development, and project construction and contract administration. Companion materials, such as links to relevant manuals and forms, accompany each video, along with references to the appropriate sections in the Code of Federal Regulations. For more information on this initiative, see "Federal-Aid Essentials" on page 16 in this issue of Public Roads.

The goal is to provide the right information at the right time for partners at the local level. By centralizing these types of information, Federal-Aid Essentials for Local Public Agencies is providing transportation professionals with a convenient and inexpensive way to obtain vital information on administering federally funded projects. Ultimately, this information will be of value to a wide range of Federal, State, and local professionals who are working to deliver needed transportation improvements to the traveling public.

Jeffrey F. Paniati, P.E.

Executive Director

Federal Highway Administration

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration