Nearly 28,000 local public agencies--mostly cities, counties, and towns--own and operate about 75 percent of our nation’s highways. That’s roughly 2.9 million miles of local roads. To put that in perspective, just about all travel by people and goods begins or ends on a local road. To keep these critical roads in good condition, these agencies receive close to $7 billion each year in Federal-aid funding – around 15 percent of the entire budget for the Federal-aid Highway Program.
That’s 15 percent of our highway funds supporting 75 percent of our nation’s highways, so it’s important that local public agencies are well-versed on the ins and outs of our program and its requirements. The better prepared they are, the better they can oversee new projects, deliver them efficiently to the public and give taxpayers the best value for their tax dollars.
Earlier this week, in partnership with the American Public Works Association (APWA), we launched a new and innovative resource called Federal-aid Essentials for Local Public Agencies. This resource puts key information about Federal-aid requirements on a single public website, giving local public agency staffers a centralized hub for guidance, policies, procedures, and best practices for administering Federal-aid projects.
The website’s main feature is a library of videos covering key aspects of project development and the delivery process. Need to know more about the environmental review process? Want to make sure you’re complying with our policies on Disadvantaged Business Enterprises? It’s all there in the video library presented in clear and concise language that users can easily understand.
Working with our state and local partners, our FHWA team created this resource to help staffers get the information they need about the Federal-aid Highway Program. The video library is accessible in the office or in the field from any computer or mobile device with internet access. The videos each focus on a single topic and are all less than 10 minutes long.
We want to encourage communities to take advantage of this resource. The information was designed to provide the highest level of guidance, while encouraging the local agencies to work with their state departments of transportation for specific local requirements. And by keeping our information at this high level, we made sure the content will still be applicable with the implementation of the new transportation bill, MAP-21.
In addition, we’re introducing a new strategy to help local agencies better manage projects that are part of our successful Every Day Counts initiative. Working with APWA, the National Association of County Engineers and others, this new approach will help agencies cut even more time – and save even more money – on important transportation projects.
Local roads are important to individual communities and as links in the nation’s transportation system. And local public agencies play a key role in their development and maintenance. FHWA wants to make sure they have the tools to do the best job possible.