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Meeting the Challenge: Federal Lands

Twenty-eight percent of land in the United States is under Federal stewardship, including national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges and Tribal and other Federal lands. Developing and maintaining the transportation networks within these areas pose unique challenges for transportation professionals. FHWA is helping Federal agencies and Tribal governments improve safety, streamline the environmental review process, and reduce congestion; all while protecting natural and cultural resources and meeting the needs of the many different communities served by these roads.

In partnership with diverse agencies, such as the National Park Service (NPS), the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FHWA is identifying new construction and maintenance techniques that are appropriate for environmentally sensitive and sparsely populated rural areas. Highways located on Federal lands often serve as test beds for innovations used by State and local highway agencies on their rural roads.

To speed the delivery of transportation improvements, the FHWA is cultivating streamlined project development and environmental review processes that integrate the activities of diverse agencies. The agencies may be from different levels of government and may have different points of view, based on wide-ranging missions such as construction, resource conservation, or finance, but they all work together to advance projects. This collaboration enhances the efficiency and quality of transportation projects on Federal lands.

Objective 1: Enhance Federal Land Management Agency, Tribal, and Public Road Systems to Improve Transportation


  • Identify stakeholder road transportation needs to assist in the planning, design, and construction of roads that meet safety and design standards with the fewest possible environmental impacts.
  • Promote technologies and solutions that monitor traffic, manage congestion, optimize road and visitation facility capacity, and encourage alternative transportation such as shuttles, bicycles, and buses to include special consideration for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Encourage inventory, data collection, and asset management programs that support decisionmaking to maximize the use of agency resources; reduce impacts to travelers; enhance roadway and bridge safety; and preserve historical, cultural, environmental, ecological, economic, and recreational attributes.
  • Provide for "green" highways and context-sensitive solutions; measure and document roadway sustainability; and reduce traffic and construction noise and vibrations.

Showcase Activities

  • Making Mather Point/Visitor Center Improvements: Grand Canyon National Park

 Visit the Objective 1: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 2: Improve Federal Land Management Agency, Tribal, and Public Road Systems to Enhance Safety


  • Provide technical assistance and project support services to stakeholders to make transportation facilities safer, including road safety audits, identifying high-crash locations, and reducing wildlife-vehicle interaction.
  • Identify and deploy safety initiatives to improve safe transportation to and within Federal and Tribal lands. Work includes road safety audits, improving protections for work zones, and evaluating factors such as the crashworthiness of guardrails and the visibility of sign and pavement markings.

Showcase Activities

  • Developing the Haxton Way Pedestrian Path: Whatcom County, Bellingham, Washington

 Visit the Objective 2: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 3: Streamline Federal Land Management Agency and Tribal Processes to Improve Efficiency of Project Delivery


  • Ensure the effectiveness of the Federal Lands Highway Program with condition and performance assessment initiatives.
  • Promote and provide technical assistance on environmental streamlining to improve the effectiveness of transportation project delivery.
  • Further link the transportation planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes to ensure efficient transportation project delivery and increase the quality of the National Environmental Policy Act processes.
  • Engage partner agencies to develop long-range transportation plans based on transportation asset management priorities and performance-based principles.
  • Provide quality education materials and sponsor training to accompany improved, enhanced, and streamlined project delivery programs, studies, recommendations, and guidance.

Showcase Activities

  • Promoting Roadside Revegetation: An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants
  • Using Construction Manager/General Contractor at the Point Bonita Lighthouse Bridge Replacement

 Visit the Objective 3: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Objective 4: Deploy New, Emerging, Underused, and Innovative Technologies to Accelerate Project Delivery of Low-Volume/Speed Roadways


  • Deploy innovative and emerging technologies to accelerate project delivery, improve safety, and provide solutions to unique situations.
  • Provide Federal Lands Highway projects as testbeds to field test research advanced by FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.
  • Work with the Transportation Research Board Low-Volume Roads Committee and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to define research priorities for low-volume roads that address FHWA's Office of Federal Lands Highway stakeholders' needs.
  • Collaborate with the Local Technical Assistance Program and Tribal Technical Assistance Program centers to provide training, technology transfer, and research opportunities that improve the abilities of stakeholders to deliver more effective and safer transportation projects.
  • Document new and emerging technologies that support project delivery and share them with the transportation community by engaging partners and customers through appropriate forums.

Showcase Activities

  • Producing Rockery Design and Construction Guidelines

 Visit the Objective 4: Showcase Activities page for more details.

Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018