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Defense Access Road Program (DAR)

Since 1919 the Department of Defense (DOD) and predecessors of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have cooperated in insuring the needs of the military are considered in the nations Federal-aid Highway Program.

The Defense Access Road (DAR) Program provides a means for the military to pay their share of the cost of public highway improvements necessary to mitigate an unusual impact of a defense activity. An unusual impact could be a significant increase in personnel at a military installation, relocation of an access gate, or the deployment of an oversized or overweight military vehicle or transporter unit.

To initiate a DAR project, the local military base identifies the access or mobility needs and brings these deficiencies to the attention of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). The base commander formally submits the requirement to SDDC if it is determined to impact the mission or welfare of the base or military service. The SDDC will then either prepare a DAR needs evaluation or request the FHWA to make an evaluation, in accordance with 23 CFR, Part 660E, of improvements that are necessary, develop a cost estimate, and determine the scope of work to address the noted deficiencies.

An onsite meeting is usually held before the evaluation begins to explain the DAR program, the process for performing the needs evaluation, identify possible alternates, and the assignment of work. The FHWA will forward the needs evaluation to the SDDC for their review and the review of the appropriate military service.

The SDDC will determine if the proposed work/project/improvements are eligible for DAR funds and certify the road/roads/intersection as important to the national defense if appropriate. Then the military service is responsible for requesting DOD funding for the project through their normal budgeting process. Once programmed by the military service, the funds must be authorized and appropriated by Congress. After Congressional approval, the funds are transferred to FHWA and allocated to the agency administering the project. Title 23 Federal-aid procedures are followed in the design and construction of the project.

Minuteman Missile Program

The FHWA also works with the SDDC to support the Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Program (Minuteman). This portion of the DAR program provides DOD funds each year for the extraordinary maintenance, extraordinary snow removal and regravelling of transporter erector routes supporting the missile program.

Statutory Criteria

Statutory References

23 U.S.C. 210 - Provides the legal authority for the DAR Program and use of DOD funding on the public highway system.

Additional Regulations are contained in 23 CFR 660E.

Program Funding

There is no regular appropriation of money available for the DAR program. Military Construction (MILCON) funds are specifically budgeted, authorized and appropriated for eligible DAR projects. Since 1957 the DAR program has averaged $20 million per year.


To initiate a DAR project, the local military installation identifies the access or mobility needs and brings these deficiencies to the attention of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). The SDDC reviews the requirement and makes a preliminary eligibility determination. If it appears eligible, the SDDC requests the FHWA to prepare an engineering evaluation to identify the cost and scope of the needs. The FHWA forwards the evaluation and recommendations to the SDDC. The SDDC then submits its determination of eligibility and its recommended DOD share of the improvements to the Commander, SDDC, with the recommendation that the roadway be certified as important for the national defense. Once certified by the Commander, SDDC, the roads become eligible for DOD funding. The DAR Program does not provide for maintenance of roadways funded by the program, except for maintaining the structural capacity of designated gravel roads that support the Minuteman Program. Air Force operations and maintenance funds are used for this maintenance program.

Program Administration

The DAR program is jointly administered by the FHWA and SDDC. The Federal Lands Highway Office administers the program for FHWA and the Transportation Engineering Agency administers the program for SDDC. The roles and responsibilities of each agency are defined in regulations located in 23 CFR 660E.

Selection of Defense Access Road Projects

If the project is determined to be eligible for financing either in whole or in part with defense access road funds, SDDC will certify the roadway as important to the national defense and will authorize expenditure of DOD funds. The Commander, SDDC, is the only representative of the DOD officially authorized to make the certification required by section 210, title 23, U.S.C., in behalf of the Secretary of Defense.

Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2023