United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 21, 2023
Definitions and declaration of policy
In this title, the following definitions apply:
The term “apportionment” includes unexpended apportionments made under prior authorization laws.
The term “asset management” means a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, and improving physical assets, with a focus on both engineering and economic analysis based upon quality information, to identify a structured sequence of maintenance, preservation, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement actions that will achieve and sustain a desired state of good repair over the lifecycle of the assets at minimum practicable cost.
The term “carpool project” means any project to encourage the use of carpools and vanpools, including provision of carpooling opportunities to the elderly and individuals with disabilities, systems for locating potential riders and informing them of carpool opportunities, acquiring vehicles for carpool use, designating existing highway lanes as preferential carpool highway lanes, providing related traffic control devices, designating existing facilities for use for preferential parking for carpools, and real-time ridesharing projects, such as projects where drivers, using an electronic transfer of funds, recover costs directly associated with the trip provided through the use of location technology to quantify those direct costs, subject to the condition that the cost recovered does not exceed the cost of the trip provided.
The term “construction” means the supervising, inspecting, actual building, and incurrence of all costs incidental to the construction or reconstruction of a highway or any project eligible for assistance under this title, including bond costs and other costs relating to the issuance in accordance with section 122 of bonds or other debt financing instruments and costs incurred by the State in performing Federal-aid project related audits that directly benefit the Federal-aid highway program. Such term includes—
preliminary engineering, engineering, and design-related services directly relating to the construction of a highway project, including engineering, design, project development and management, construction project management and inspection, surveying, assessing resilience, mapping (including the establishment of temporary and permanent geodetic control in accordance with specifications of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and architectural-related services;
reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation;
acquisition of rights-of-way;
relocation assistance, acquisition of replacement housing sites, and acquisition and rehabilitation, relocation, and construction of replacement housing;
elimination of hazards of railway-highway grade crossings;
elimination of roadside hazards;
improvements that directly facilitate and control traffic flow, such as grade separation of intersections, widening of lanes, channelization of traffic, traffic control systems, and passenger loading and unloading areas;
improvements that reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions, such as wildlife crossing structures; and
capital improvements that directly facilitate an effective vehicle weight enforcement program, such as scales (fixed and portable), scale pits, scale installation, and scale houses.
The term “county” includes corresponding units of government under any other name in States that do not have county organizations and, in those States in which the county government does not have jurisdiction over highways, any local government unit vested with jurisdiction over local highways.
The term “Federal-aid highway” means a public highway eligible for assistance under this chapter other than a highway functionally classified as a local road or rural minor collector.
The term “Federal Lands access transportation facility” means a public highway, road, bridge, trail, or transit system that is located on, is adjacent to, or provides access to Federal lands for which title or maintenance responsibility is vested in a State, county, town, township, tribal, municipal, or local government.
The term “Federal lands transportation facility” means a public highway, road, bridge, trail, or transit system that is located on, is adjacent to, or provides access to Federal lands for which title and maintenance responsibility is vested in the Federal Government, and that appears on the national Federal lands transportation facility inventory described in section 203(c).
The term “forest development roads and trails” means forest roads and trails under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service.
The term “forest road or trail” means a road or trail wholly or partly within, or adjacent to, and serving the National Forest System that is necessary for the protection, administration, and utilization of the National Forest System and the use and development of its resources.
The term “highway” includes—
a road, street, and parkway;
a right-of-way, bridge, railroad-highway crossing, tunnel, drainage structure including public roads on dams, sign, guardrail, and protective structure, in connection with a highway; and
a portion of any interstate or international bridge or tunnel and the approaches thereto, the cost of which is assumed by a State transportation department, including such facilities as may be required by the United States Customs and Immigration Services in connection with the operation of an international bridge or tunnel.
The term “Interstate System” means the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways described in section 103(c).
The term “maintenance” means the preservation of the entire highway, including surface, shoulders, roadsides, structures, and such traffic-control devices as are necessary for safe and efficient utilization of the highway.
The term “maintenance area” means an area that was designated as an air quality nonattainment area, but was later redesignated by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as an air quality attainment area, under section 107(d) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7407(d)).
The term “National Highway Freight Network” means the National Highway Freight Network established under section 167.
The term “National Highway System” means the Federal-aid highway system described in section 103(b).
The term “natural infrastructure” means infrastructure that uses, restores, or emulates natural ecological processes and—
is created through the action of natural physical, geological, biological, and chemical processes over time;
is created by human design, engineering, and construction to emulate or act in concert with natural processes; or
involves the use of plants, soils, and other natural features, including through the creation, restoration, or preservation of vegetated areas using materials appropriate to the region to manage stormwater and runoff, to attenuate flooding and storm surges, and for other related purposes.
The term “operating costs for traffic monitoring, management, and control” includes labor costs, administrative costs, costs of utilities and rent, and other costs associated with the continuous operation of traffic control, such as integrated traffic control systems, incident management programs, and traffic control centers.
The term “operational improvement”—
means (i) a capital improvement for installation of traffic surveillance and control equipment, computerized signal systems, motorist information systems, integrated traffic control systems, incident management programs, and transportation demand management facilities, strategies, and programs, and (ii) such other capital improvements to public roads as the Secretary may designate, by regulation; and
does not include resurfacing, restoring, or rehabilitating improvements, construction of additional lanes, interchanges, and grade separations, and construction of a new facility on a new location.
The term “project” means any undertaking eligible for assistance under this title.
The term “project agreement” means the formal instrument to be executed by the Secretary and the recipient as required by section 106.
The term “public authority” means a Federal, State, county, town, or township, Indian tribe, municipal or other local government or instrumentality with authority to finance, build, operate, or maintain toll or toll-free facilities.
The term “public road” means any road or street under the jurisdiction of and maintained by a public authority and open to public travel.
The term “resilience”, with respect to a project, means a project with the ability to anticipate, prepare for, or adapt to conditions or withstand, respond to, or recover rapidly from disruptions, including the ability—
to resist hazards or withstand impacts from weather events and natural disasters; or
to reduce the magnitude or duration of impacts of a disruptive weather event or natural disaster on a project; and
to have the absorptive capacity, adaptive capacity, and recoverability to decrease project vulnerability to weather events or other natural disasters.
The term “rural areas” means all areas of a State not included in urban areas.
The term “safety improvement project” means a strategy, activity, or project on a public road that is consistent with the State strategic highway safety plan and corrects or improves a roadway feature that constitutes a hazard to road users or addresses a highway safety problem.
The term “Secretary” means Secretary of Transportation.
The term “State” means any of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico.
The term “State funds” includes funds raised under the authority of the State or any political or other subdivision thereof, and made available for expenditure under the direct control of the State transportation department.
The term “State strategic highway safety plan” has the same meaning given such term in section 148(a).
The term “State transportation department” means that department, commission, board, or official of any State charged by its laws with the responsibility for highway construction.
The term “transportation systems management and operations” means integrated strategies to optimize the performance of existing infrastructure through—
the implementation of multimodal and intermodal, cross-jurisdictional systems, services, and projects designed to preserve capacity and improve security, safety, and reliability of the transportation system; and
the consideration of incorporating natural infrastructure.
The term “transportation systems management and operations” includes—
actions such as traffic detection and surveillance, corridor management, freeway management, arterial management, active transportation and demand management, work zone management, emergency management, traveler information services, congestion pricing, parking management, automated enforcement, traffic control, commercial vehicle operations, freight management, and coordination of highway, rail, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian operations; and
coordination of the implementation of regional transportation system management and operations investments (such as traffic incident management, traveler information services, emergency management, roadway weather management, intelligent transportation systems, communication networks, and information sharing systems) requiring agreements, integration, and interoperability to achieve targeted system performance, reliability, safety, and customer service levels.
The term “tribal transportation facility” means a public highway, road, bridge, trail, or transit system that is located on or provides access to tribal land and appears on the national tribal transportation facility inventory described in section 202(b)(1).
The term “truck stop electrification system” means a system that delivers heat, air conditioning, electricity, or communications to a heavy-duty vehicle.
The term “urban area” means an urbanized area or, in the case of an urbanized area encompassing more than one State, that part of the urbanized area in each such State, or urban place as designated by the Bureau of the Census having a population of 5,000 or more and not within any urbanized area, within boundaries to be fixed by responsible State and local officials in cooperation with each other, subject to approval by the Secretary. Such boundaries shall encompass, at a minimum, the entire urban place designated by the Bureau of the Census, except in the case of cities in the State of Maine and in the State of New Hampshire.
The term “urbanized area” means an area with a population of 50,000 or more designated by the Bureau of the Census, within boundaries to be fixed by responsible State and local officials in cooperation with each other, subject to approval by the Secretary. Such boundaries shall encompass, at a minimum, the entire urbanized area within a State as designated by the Bureau of the Census.
Congress declares that it is in the national interest to accelerate the construction of Federal-aid highway systems, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, because many of the highways (or portions of the highways) are inadequate to meet the needs of local and interstate commerce for the national and civil defense.
Congress declares that the prompt and early completion of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (referred to in this section as the “Interstate System”), so named because of its primary importance to the national defense, is essential to the national interest. It is the intent of Congress that the Interstate System be completed as nearly as practicable over the period of availability of the forty years’ appropriations authorized for the purpose of expediting its construction, reconstruction, or improvement, inclusive of necessary tunnels and bridges, through the fiscal year ending
September 30, 1996, under section 108(b) of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 (70 Stat. 374), and that the entire system in all States be brought to simultaneous completion. Insofar as possible in consonance with this objective, existing highways located on an interstate route shall be used to the extent that such use is practicable, suitable, and feasible, it being the intent that local needs, to the extent practicable, suitable, and feasible, shall be given equal consideration with the needs of interstate commerce.
Congress declares that—
it is in the national interest to preserve and enhance the surface transportation system to meet the needs of the United States for the 21st Century;
the current urban and long distance personal travel and freight movement demands have surpassed the original forecasts and travel demand patterns are expected to continue to change;
continued planning for and investment in surface transportation is critical to ensure the surface transportation system adequately meets the changing travel demands of the future;
among the foremost needs that the surface transportation system must meet to provide for a strong and vigorous national economy are safe, efficient, resilient, and reliable—
national and interregional personal mobility (including personal mobility in rural and urban areas) and reduced congestion;
flow of interstate and international commerce and freight transportation; and
travel movements essential for national security;
special emphasis should be devoted to providing safe and efficient access for the type and size of commercial and military vehicles that access designated National Highway System intermodal freight terminals;
the connection between land use and infrastructure is significant;
transportation should play a significant role in promoting economic growth, improving the environment, and sustaining the quality of life; and
the Secretary should take appropriate actions to preserve and enhance the Interstate System to meet the needs of the 21st Century.
Congress declares that it is in the national interest to expedite the delivery of surface transportation projects by substantially reducing the average length of the environmental review process.
Accordingly, it is the policy of the United States that—
the Secretary shall have the lead role among Federal agencies in carrying out the environmental review process for surface transportation projects;
each Federal agency shall cooperate with the Secretary to expedite the environmental review process for surface transportation projects;
project sponsors shall not be prohibited from carrying out preconstruction project development activities concurrently with the environmental review process;
programmatic approaches shall be used to reduce the need for project-by-project reviews and decisions by Federal agencies; and
the Secretary shall identify opportunities for project sponsors to assume responsibilities of the Secretary where such responsibilities can be assumed in a manner that protects public health, the environment, and public participation.
It is the sense of Congress that under existing law no part of any sums authorized to be appropriated for expenditure upon any Federal-aid highway which has been apportioned pursuant to the provisions of this title shall be impounded or withheld from obligation, for purposes and projects as provided in this title, by any officer or employee in the executive branch of the Federal Government, except such specific sums as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, are necessary to be withheld from obligation for specific periods of time to assure that sufficient amounts will be available in the Highway Trust Fund to defray the expenditures which will be required to be made from such fund.
No funds authorized to be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund shall be expended by or on behalf of any Federal department, agency, or instrumentality other than the Federal Highway Administration unless funds for such expenditure are identified and included as a line item in an appropriation Act and are to meet obligations of the United States heretofore or hereafter incurred under this title attributable to the construction of Federal-aid highways or highway planning, research, or development, or as otherwise specifically authorized to be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund by Federal-aid highway legislation.
It is the national policy that to the maximum extent possible the procedures to be utilized by the Secretary and all other affected heads of Federal departments, agencies, and instrumentalities for carrying out this title and any other provision of law relating to the Federal highway programs shall encourage the substantial minimization of paperwork and interagency decision procedures and the best use of available manpower and funds so as to prevent needless duplication and unnecessary delays at all levels of government.
(Pub. L. 85–767,
Aug. 27, 1958, 72 Stat. 885; Pub. L. 86–70, § 21(e)(1), June 25, 1959, 73 Stat. 146; Pub. L. 86–624, § 17(a), July 12, 1960, 74 Stat. 415; Pub. L. 87–866, § 6(a), Oct. 23, 1962, 76 Stat. 1147; Pub. L. 88–423, § 3, Aug. 13, 1964, 78 Stat. 397; Pub. L. 89–574, § 4(a), Sept. 13, 1966, 80 Stat. 767; Pub. L. 90–495, §§ 4(a), 8, 15, Aug. 23, 1968, 82 Stat. 816, 819, 822; Pub. L. 91–605, title I, §§ 104(a), 106(a), 107, 117(d), 130, 141, Dec. 31, 1970, 84 Stat. 1714, 1716, 1718, 1724, 1732, 1737; Pub. L. 93–87, title I, §§ 105, 106(a), 107, 108, 152(1), Aug. 13, 1973, 87 Stat. 253–255, 276; Pub. L. 93–643, § 102(b), Jan. 4, 1975, 88 Stat. 2281; Pub. L. 94–280, title I, §§ 107(a), 108, May 5, 1976, 90 Stat. 430, 431; Pub. L. 95–599, title I, § 106, Nov. 6, 1978, 92 Stat. 2693; Pub. L. 97–424, title I, §§ 126(c), 159, Jan. 6, 1983, 96 Stat. 2115, 2135; Pub. L. 100–17, title I, §§ 102(b)(3), 108, 109, 133(b)(2), (3), Apr. 2, 1987, 101 Stat. 135, 146, 171; Pub. L. 101–427, Oct. 15, 1990, 104 Stat. 927; Pub. L. 102–240, title I, §§ 1001(g), 1005, 1006(g)(1), 1007(c), Dec. 18, 1991, 105 Stat. 1916, 1922, 1927, 1931; Pub. L. 104–59, title III, §§ 301(b), 311(b), Nov. 28, 1995, 109 Stat. 578, 583; Pub. L. 105–178, title I, § 1201, June 9, 1998, 112 Stat. 164; Pub. L. 109–59, title I, §§ 1122, 1909(a), Aug. 10, 2005, 119 Stat. 1196, 1470; Pub. L. 110–244, title I, § 101(h), June 6, 2008, 122 Stat. 1574; Pub. L. 112–141, div. A, title I, §§ 1103, 1301(c), 1501, July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 419, 528, 560; Pub. L. 114–94, div. A, title I, § 1103, Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1328; Pub. L. 117–58, div. A, title I, §§ 11103, 11123(a), 11525(a), Nov. 15, 2021, 135 Stat. 453, 499, 607.)
cite as: 23 USC 101