Federal Highway Administration

Last updated

Federal Highway Administration
FHWA logo square.svg
Agency overview
FormedApril 1, 1967;55 years ago (1967-04-01)
Preceding agency
  • Bureau of Public Roads
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Annual budget$46 billion (FY2019) [1]
Agency executives
Parent agency Department of Transportation
Website www.fhwa.dot.gov

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a division of the United States Department of Transportation that specializes in highway transportation. The agency's major activities are grouped into two programs, the Federal-aid Highway Program and the Federal Lands Highway Program. Its role had previously been performed by the Office of Road Inquiry, Office of Public Roads and the Bureau of Public Roads.




The organization has several predecessor organizations and complicated history.

The Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) was founded in 1893. In 1905, that organization's name was changed to the Office of Public Roads (OPR) which became a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. The name was changed again to the Bureau of Public Roads in 1915 and to the Public Roads Administration (PRA) in 1939. It was then shifted to the Federal Works Agency which was abolished in 1949 when its name reverted to Bureau of Public Roads under the Department of Commerce. [2]

With the coming of the bicycle in the 1890s, interest grew regarding the improvement of streets and roads in America. The traditional method of putting the burden on maintaining roads on local landowners was increasingly inadequate. New York State took the lead in 1898, and by 1916 the old system had been discarded everywhere. Demands grew for local and state government to take charge. With the coming of the automobile after 1910, urgent efforts were made to upgrade and modernize dirt roads designed for horse-drawn wagon traffic. The American Association for Highway Improvement was organized in 1910. Funding came from automobile registration, and taxes on motor fuels, as well as state aid. In 1916, federal-aid was first made available to improve post-roads, and promote general commerce. Congress appropriated $75 million over a five-year period, with the Secretary of Agriculture in charge through the Bureau of Public Roads, in cooperation with the state highway departments. There were 2.4 million miles of rural dirt rural roads in 1914; 100,000 miles had been improved with grading and gravel, and 3000 miles were given high quality surfacing. The rapidly increasing speed of automobiles, and especially trucks, made maintenance and repair high-priority item. Concrete was first used in 1893, and expanded until it became the dominant surfacing material in the 1930s. [3] [4]

Federal aid began in 1917. From 1917 through 1941, 261,000 miles of highways were built with federal aid, and cost $5.31 billion. Federal funds totaled $3.17 billion, and state-local funds were $2.14 billion. [lower-alpha 1]


The FHWA was created on October 15, 1966.

In 1967, the functions of the Bureau of Public Roads were transferred to the new organization.

It was one of three original bureaus along with the 'Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety' and the 'National Highway Safety Bureau' (now known as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). [6]


The FHWA's role in the Federal-aid Highway Program is to oversee federal funds used for constructing and maintaining the National Highway System (primarily Interstate Highways, U.S. Highways and most state highways). This funding mostly comes from the federal gasoline tax and mostly goes to state departments of transportation. [7] The FHWA oversees projects using these funds to ensure that federal requirements for project eligibility, contract administration and construction standards are adhered to.

Under the Federal Lands Highway Program (sometimes called "direct fed"), the FHWA provides highway design and construction services for various federal land-management agencies, such as the Forest Service and the National Park Service.

In addition to these programs, the FHWA performs and sponsors research in the areas of roadway safety, congestion, highway materials and construction methods, and provides funding to local technical assistance program centers to disseminate research results to local highway agencies.

The FHWA also publishes the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is used by most highway agencies in the United States. The MUTCD specifies such things as the size, color and height of traffic signs, traffic signals and road surface markings.


Long-Term Pavement Performance Program

Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) is a program supported by the FHWA to collect and analyse road data. The LTPP program was initiated by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) in the early 1980s. The FHWA with the cooperation of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) sponsored the program. As a result of this program, the FHWA has collected a huge database of road performance. The FHWA and the ASCE hold an annual contest known as LTPP International Data Analysis Contest, which is based on challenging researchers to answer a question based on the LTPP data. [8]

Every day counts initiative

The Every day counts initiative (EDC) of the FHWA planned in 2009 and started in 2011 is designed as the United States road infrastructure project of the 2010s decade to identify and deploy innovation aimed at reducing project build delivery time, enhancing safety and protecting the environment. [9] [10] [11] It also made a positive impact in accelerating the deployment of innovations. [12]

Five steps were scheduled from 2012 to 2020 and include various technologies and methods to improve travel time, safety, project and contract management, saving energy, risks, cost and environment resources. [13]

It started with reducing fuel consumption and improving travel time reliability by Adaptive traffic control, continued with implementing alternative intersections design and several money savings and anti-corruption strategies like independent reviewing of construction plans before construction is paid, also time saving strategies like right-of-way, on site bridge constructions as rapid bridge replacement. [14]


The Federal Highway Administration is overseen by an administrator appointed by the President of the United States by and with the consent of the United States Senate. The administrator works under the direction of the Secretary of Transportation and Deputy Secretary of Transportation. The internal organization of the FHWA is as follows: [15]


PortraitAdministratorTerm startedTerm ended
Col.Roy Stone.jpg Roy Stone October 3, 1893October 13, 1899
Martin Dodge.png Martin Dodge January 31, 18991905
Logan Waller Page.png Logan Waller Page 1905December 9, 1918
ThomasHMacDonald.jpg Thomas Harris MacDonald April 1, 1919March 31, 1953
Francis Victor DuPont.png Francis Victor du Pont April 1, 1953January 14, 1955
Charles Dwight (CAP) Curtiss.png Charles Dwight Curtiss January 14, 1955October 1956
John Volpe (1970).jpg John A. Volpe October 22, 1956February 5, 1957
Bertram D Tallamy.png Bertram D. Tallamy February 5, 1957January 20, 1961
Rex Marion Whitton.png Rex Marion Whitton January 20, 1961December 30, 1966
Lowell K. Bridwell.jpg Lowell K. Bridwell March 23, 1967January 20, 1969
Francis Cutler Turner.png Francis Turner March 13, 1969June 30, 1972
Ralph Bartelsmeyer.jpg Ralph Bartelsmeyer (acting)July 1, 1972June 1, 1973 [16]
Gov. Norbert Tiemann.jpg Norbert Tiemann June 1, 1973March 31, 1977
William M Cox.png William M. Cox April 7, 1977May 1, 1978
Karl S Bowers.png Karl S. Bowers April 3, 1978January 1980
John S Hassell JR.png John S. Hassell Jr. July 11, 1980February 5, 1981
Ray Barnhart.jpg Ray Barnhart February 12, 1981December 31, 1987
Robert E Farris.png Robert E. Farris June 8, 1988May 17, 1989
Thomas D. Larson.png Thomas D. Larson August 10, 1989January 20, 1993
Slater rodney.jpg Rodney E. Slater June 3, 1993February 14, 1997
Kenneth R Wykle.png Kenneth R. Wykle December 2, 1997September 4, 2001
Mary Peters official DOT portrait.jpg Mary E. Peters October 2, 2001July 29, 2005
J Richard Capka.png J. Richard Capka May 31, 2006January 24, 2008
Thomas J Madison Jr.png Thomas J. Madison Jr. August 18, 2008January 20, 2009
Victor Mendez.jpg Victor Mendez January 20, 2009July 24, 2014
Gregory Nadeau.png Gregory G. Nadeau July 30, 2014January 20, 2017
Bhendrickson highres.jpg Brandye Hendrickson (acting)July 24, 2017May 6, 2019
Nicole R. Nason official photo.jpg Nicole Nason May 7, 2019January 20, 2021
Stephanie Pollack.jpg Stephanie Pollack (acting)February 24, 2021 [17] present

Deputy administrators

Executive directors

See also


  1. The total GNP at current prices, 1917 through 1941 = $2,227.2 billion, so these roads = 5.32/2.227.2 = 1/4 of 1% of GNP. [5]

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