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Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)

Fact Sheets on Highway Provisions


Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Authorization $178M $356M $445M $445M $356M

Program Purpose

The Projects of National and Regional Significance program provides funding for high cost projects of national or regional importance.

Statutory References

SAFETEA-LU Section(s): 1101(a)(15), 1102, 1301; 1935; 1936; 1953; 1959; 1964


Funded by contract authority, available until expended and not transferable. In addition to the authorized amounts shown above, an unspecified amount of funding is authorized from the General Fund, which would require appropriation action to become available. [1301, 1953]

The funds designated for a project in section 1301 are available only for that project with the following exception: Funds allocated for a project specified below may be obligated for any other of these projects in the same State:

  • High Priority Projects listed in section 1702 and numbered 3677 or higher;
  • Projects of National and Regional Significance listed in section 1301 and numbered 19 or higher;
  • National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement Program projects listed in section 1302 and numbered 28 or higher; or
  • Any Transportation Improvements project listed in section 1934;

except that the amount of funds authorized for a project from the category list may not be reduced. [1935]

PNRS projects may be advanced with funds apportioned under 23 U.S.C. 104(b) from a program under which the project would be eligible, and the funds are to be restored from future allocations of the PNRS project funds for the project. [1936]

The PNRS program is subject to obligation limitation that is set aside specifically for this program. The limitation is special no year limitation that remains available until used. [1102(c)(4) & (g)]

For FY 2005 only, the obligation limitation set aside for the PNRS projects program may be used as formula limitation. Any limitation used in this manner must be restored when the FY 2006 obligation limit is distributed. [1102(i)]

Eligible Use of Funds

An eligible project is any surface transportation project eligible for assistance under 23 USC, including a freight railroad project eligible under that title, that has a total eligible cost greater than or equal to the lesser of (1) $500,000,000 or (2) 75 percent of the amount of Federal highway funds apportioned to the State in which the project is located for the most recently completed fiscal year.

Eligible costs are development phase activities (including planning, feasibility analysis, revenue forecasting, environmental review, preliminary engineering and design work, and other preconstruction activities) and the costs of construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and acquisition of right-of-way, environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, acquisition of equipment, and operational improvements.

Project Selection

Applications for funding will be solicited by the Secretary of Transportation and funding for projects will be awarded competitively through an evaluation process modeled on the Transit New Starts program. Projects are evaluated on the ability of the project to:

  • generate national economic benefits
  • reduce congestion
  • improve transportation safety
  • enhance the national transportation system
  • garner support for non-Federal financial commitments and the degree to which Federal investment is leveraged
  • provide evidence of stable and dependable financing for construction, maintenance, and operation of the facility
  • use new technologies that enhance project efficiency
  • help maintain or protect the environment

All of the funds authorized for this program from the Highway Trust Fund are designated for projects listed in section 1301(m). Notwithstanding the selection process defined in section 1301 and described above, for each project designated in section 1301(m), the Secretary shall allocate a portion of the amount designated for that project: 10% in 2005, 20% for 2006, 25% for 2007, 25% for 2008 and 20% for 2009.

Special Provisions

Funds for PNRS project #12 are to be provided to the public entity known as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, established by the States of New York and New Jersey. [1959]

Federal Share

The Federal share is 80%, except for projects designated in section 1301 in the States of Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and South Dakota for which the Federal share is 80%, subject to the sliding scale adjustment under 23 USC 120(b). [1301(i), 1964]

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