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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-14-004    Date:  May/June 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-004
Issue No: Vol. 77 No. 6
Date: May/June 2014


Guest Editorial

Celebrating 100 Years of Success

Photo. Headshot of Joyce Curtis, Associate Administrator for the Office of Federal Lands Highway, FHWA.As described to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx by the Acting Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH) is one of the agency’s best kept secrets. Most who work in FLH would agree.

On February 16, 1914, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Public Roads, Division of National Park and Forest Roads (now FLH), was established with the sole purpose of serving roads on Federal lands. From the beginning, the office has partnered with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service to rebuild the historic roads within national parks and forests. Fast forward to today, FLH now also partners with Native American tribes; DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and State departments of transportation (DOTs), as well as counties and municipalities that provide access to Federal and tribal lands.

FLH is staffed with a dedicated group of professionals who specialize in delivering environmentally sensitive transportation solutions that value the natural, cultural, and historic context and support the economic vitality of surrounding communities. Through program administration, project delivery, innovation and technology, and professional development, FLH administers the Federal Lands Transportation Program, Tribal Transportation Program, Federal Lands Access Program, Defense Access Roads Program, and Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads Program. While implementing these programs, the office trains and develops FHWA employees in the delivery of projects.

Partners have sought FLH’s assistance as the “partner of choice” to deliver difficult projects. Whether building a road across the frozen tundra of Alaska, installing a bridge over the geothermal pools of Yellowstone National Park, managing construction projects for territorial partners, or preparing historic and environmental documentation for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants to railroads, FLH succeeds where others either dared not go or may have failed.

Signature projects like the Hoover Dam Bypass, the Cumberland Gap Tunnel, and the reconstructed Going-to-the-Sun Road prove FLH’s capability to manage and deliver high-profile projects that garner national, even international, attention. Numerous national engineering associations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers and American Segmental Bridge Institute, have recognized FLH projects.

Over the years, the office’s technological contributions have ranged from developing a standard specification book on road and bridge construction to pioneering curvilinear alignments. The latter, which would become the industry standard for modern highway design, are included in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, also known as the Green Book. And, after a bridge collapse, the office issued recommendations that were implemented by AASHTO to change falsework design and construction requirements nationwide.

Technology deployment at FLH continues through FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiative, including innovative contracting methods, use of precast bridge elements to speed construction, and green technologies like warm-mix asphalt.

Join us in celebrating 100 years of challenging yet rewarding projects. Turn to page 16 in this issue of Public Roads for a scenic journey through a sampling of the roads that FLH has literally helped put on the map.


Joyce A. Curtis
Associate Administrator, FLH

Clara Conner, Division Engineer, Western FLH Division

Ricardo Suarez, Division Engineer, Central FLH Division

Melisa Ridenour, Division Engineer, Eastern FLH Division




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