Federal-Aid Highway System

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) that became effective in December of 1991, provided for several new funding categories that replaced and consolidated some of the old categories that were created in the 70's.

Interstate Maintenance - This program replaced the Interstate 4R category. However, the fourth "R" (reconstruction) has been eliminated. Reconstruction was defined as including, but not limited to, addition of travel lanes and construction and reconstruction of interchanges and overcrossings along completed Interstate routes. ISTEA limits construction of additional lanes using Interstate Maintenance funds only when they are used as High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. ISTEA did add Preventive Maintenance as an eligible activity when "a state can demonstrate, through its pavement management system, that such activities are a cost-effective means of extending Interstate pavement life." The funding for these projects is 90% federal, 10% state.

National Highway System (NHS) - Funds were developed to provide an interconnected system of Principal Arterial routes that serve major population centers, international border crossings, ports, airports, public transportation facilities and other intermodal transportation facilities and serve interstate and interregional travel. Highways included in the NHS (pdf 124 kb) include the Interstate System and other urban and rural principal arterials and highways.

This system replaced the Federal Aid primary, secondary and urban systems. The following projects are eligible for NHS funding:

  1. Construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation of the system.
  2. Operational improvements.
  3. Construction and/or operational improvements to a Federal-Aid Highway not on the NHS if:
    • the proposed project is in the same corridor and in proximity to a fully access controlled highway designated for the NHS.
    • the improvement will improve the level of service on the fully access controlled highways and regional travel.
    • the improvement is more cost-effective than an improvement to the fully access controlled highway.
  4. Highway safety improvements.
  5. Transportation planning.
  6. Highway research and planning.
  7. Highway-related technology transfer activities.
  8. Startup costs for traffic management and control.
  9. Fringe and corridor parking facilities.
  10. Carpool and vanpool projects.
  11. Bicycle transportation and pedestrian walkways.
  12. Development and establishment of management systems.
    • Bridge
    • Pavement
    • Traffic Congestion
    • Highway Safety
    • Public Transportation Facilities and Equipment
    • Intermodal Transportation Facilities and Systems
  13. Wetlands mitigation efforts and wetlands mitigation.

These projects are funded 80% federal, 20% state, unless the work is for an HOV lane. The percentage is then 90-10.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program - This new program was established for projects that:

  1. Would be likely to contribute to the attainment of a national air quality standard or;
  2. Are included in a State Implementation plan that has been approved pursuant to the Clean Air Act and will have air quality benefits.

No funds are to be provided under this program for construction of new capacity unless the project is limited to high occupancy vehicles in peak hours. These projects are funded 80% federal, 20% state.

Surface Transportation Program - This program combined and expanded several of the previous programs including urban system, rural secondary, Hazard Elimination, and Rail Highway Crossings. Projects included in this program are:

  1. Construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, restoration, resurfacing and operational improvements for highways and bridges including seismic retrofit and painting and application of calcium magnesium acetate on bridges and approaches and mitigation of damage to wildlife.
  2. Capital costs for Transit projects eligible for assistance under the Federal Transit Authority and publicly owned intracity or intercity bus terminals and facilities.
  3. Carpool projects, fringes and corridor parking facilities and programs and bicycle transportation and pedestrian walkways.
  4. Highway and Transit safety improvements and programs, hazard elimination, projects to mitigate hazards caused by wildlife and railway highway grade crossings.
  5. Highway and Transit research and development and technology transfer programs.
  6. Capital and operating costs for traffic monitoring, management and control facilities and programs.
  7. Surface transportation and planning programs.
  8. Transportation Enhancement activities.
  9. Transportation Control Measures listed in certain sections of the Clean Air Act.
  10. Development and establishment of management systems.
  11. Participation in wetlands mitigation efforts.

Of the funds provided under this program, at least 10% must be made available for safety projects (the old Hazard Elimination and Rail Highway Crossing programs). Another 10% must be available for Transportation Enhancement projects. Of the balance, 62.5% must be spent in urbanized areas over 200,000 population and in other areas of the State in proportion to the relative share both such areas are of the State’s population, and the remaining 37.5% in any area of the state, rural or urban.

Transportation Enhancement Projects mentioned above include:

    • provision of facilities for pedestrians and bicycles
    • acquisition of scenic enhancements
    • scenic or historic highway programs
    • landscape and other scenic beautification
    • historic preservation
    • rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures or facilities
    • preservation of abandoned railway corridors
    • control of outdoor advertising
    • archaeological planning and research
    • mitigation of water pollution due to highway runoff

The funding for these projects is 80% federal, 20% state, except that certain safety projects are eligible for 100% federal funding.

In addition ISTEA provided for several categories of Demonstration funds including, for New Jersey:

  1. High Cost Bridge Projects
  2. Urban Access and Urban Mobility
  3. Innovative Projects

These projects are all funded at an 80% federal, 20% state ratio.

The remaining major funding categories below remained as under previous legislation except that Bridge Painting and use of calcium magnesium acetate are now eligible activities under the Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.

Interstate Completion - Funds provided under this section are to be used for completion of gaps in the Interstate System and those sections of highway, although designated interstate, which were not constructed to interstate standards.

Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation - Funds under this category are to be used to repair or replace structurally deficient bridges.  Bridges both on the federal highway system and off the system are eligible. 65% of these funds must be spent on "On System Bridges", 15% on "Off System Bridges", the remaining 20% can be spent on either.

Interstate Substitution - Title 23 of the US Code permits states to seek withdrawal of any route or portion thereof on the Interstate System if it is determined that this route or portion of route is not essential to the completion of a unified and connected interstate system. When approval to withdraw is received, the value of the route as determined by the 1983 Interstate Cost Estimate is then made available to substitute highway and transit projects. These projects must serve the area or areas which would have served the area from which the interstate route was withdrawn. New Jersey has withdrawn and had substitute funds made available for I-95 and 695 in central New Jersey and I-895 in Burlington County and I-495 in Hudson County.

ISTEA also provided for various miscellaneous categories including highway timber bridges for repair of timber bridges, metropolitan planning for funding of the various metropolitan organizations, emergency relief for repair of damages by natural disasters and various other demonstration projects and special allocations made under the Annual Federal Highway Appropriations Bills.

A provision of ISTEA also allows expenditures by Toll Authorities to serve as credit for having matched available FHWA funds, thereby enabling projects to be funded 100% federal with a "soft match".

Federal Oversight

The Federal Highway Administration has signed an Stewardship Agreement with NJDOT outlining the level of review required on the above types of projects.

New Jersey’s National Transportation System

To determine if a project is eligible for Federal Funding participation refer to the National Highway System Route List on the Roadway Info and Traffic Counts page, and the Functional Classification Maps.

Mar 12, 2004
Jun 30, 2008

Last updated date: January 9, 2020 10:06 AM