The National Academies

NCHRP 19-20 [Anticipated]

Interdependence of Federal, State, and Local Transportation Funding and Ownership

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on Funding and Finance
Funds: $450,000
Staff Responsibility: Trey Joseph Wadsworth
Fiscal Year: 2022

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Transportation infrastructure is built, maintained, and operated by multiple levels of government and each level plays a role in delivering an integrated transportation system to serve national, state, and local needs. Components of the transportation system are owned and operated by all levels of government, creating a complex network of entities that plan, build, and operate roads, bridges, and transit systems. Current funding mechanisms consist of a mix of funding from all levels of government. This multi-layered system of ownership and funding can present challenges for project development and delivery. While there is a desire on the part of some policymakers for more “local control” of federal funding, the complexities and requirements of the federal-aid programs can prove burdensome to local entities. 

The objective of this research is to document the different scales and complexities of owning, funding, building, and maintaining the transportation system for all levels of government. Additionally, this research will investigate the interdependence of funding sources and flexibility and system ownership and responsibility. Research tasks and activities could include (1) a detailed analysis of ownership and operational control of transportation system elements and how different needs and functions of the system are met in different states and at different levels of government; (2) an exploration of non-federal funding issues including a compendium of state methods for state and local government revenue generation; (3) an identification of the reasoning for differences in transportation system ownership, project delivery responsibilities, and funding; and (4) an examination of how federal funding flexibility is used currently to improve efficiency and accommodate these differences.

Research into the complex and interdependent funding mechanisms for transportation is important to state departments of transportation and local transportation agencies as they face constrained budgets and shortfalls in federal funding. If local governments are encouraged to accept more responsibility for project delivery and funding to meet highway and transit needs, this research will benefit policymakers and stakeholders at all levels of government.


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