Public Lands Highways Discretionary (PLHD)
The Public Lands Highways Discretionary (PLHD) Program was eliminated under MAP-21. All projects previously authorized under the PLHD Program will still be administered under previous rules and regulations of the PLHD Program. The PLHD Program provided funding for transportation planning, research, and engineering and construction of, highways, roads, parkways, and transit facilities that were within, adjacent to, or provide access to Indian reservations and Federal public lands, including national parks, refuges, forests, recreation areas, and grasslands. PLH funds were used for any type of Title 23 transportation project providing access to or within Federal or Indian lands and may be used for the State/local matching share for apportioned Federal-aid Highway Funds, as described in 23 USC 120(l). The program was administered by the Office of Federal Lands Highway.
The Public Lands Highways (PLH) Program was originally established in 1930 by the Amendment Relative to Construction of Roads through Public Lands and Federal Reservations. Funding was provided from the General Fund of the Treasury. The intent of the program was to improve access to and within the Federal lands of the nation. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 changed the funding source for the program from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund, effective in fiscal year (FY) 1972. The program has been continued with each highway or transportation act since then, and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, Public Law 109-59) continues the program through FY 2009.
Since FY 2002, Congress has been designating all of the available PLHD funds each year for specific projects they list in the conference report accompanying the annual appropriations act. In addition, Congress has included a provision each year in the appropriations act that declares these designated projects to be eligible for PLHD funds "notwithstanding any other provision of law." This eligibility provision overrides the general eligibility and priority consideration criteria.
23 U.S.C. 202, 203 & 204; SAFETEA-LU, Section 1101(a)(9)(D)
Period of Availability
In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 118, PLHD funds shall remain available for obligation for three years after the last day of the fiscal year in which the project was authorized. Therefore, un-authorized funds will lapse at the end of federal fiscal year 2015.
In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 204(b), the Federal share of the costs for any project eligible under this program was 100 percent.
The PLHD funds were subject to obligation limitation; however, 100 percent obligation authority was provided with the allocation of funds for the selected projects. The obligation limitation reduces the available funding for the program under the provisions of SAFETEA-LU Section 1102(f).
Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 202(b)(1)(A), the funds shall be allocated "among those States having unappropriated or unreserved public lands, nontaxable Indian lands or other Federal reservations, on the basis of need in such States." Since all of the States have some Federal lands, all were eligible to apply for PLHD funding.
In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(5), the PLH funds were available for "any kind of transportation project eligible for assistance under Title 23, United States Code, that was within, adjacent to, or provides access to" Federal lands or facilities. Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(1)(A), the PLH funds were available for transportation planning, research, engineering, and construction of the highways, roads, and parkways, and of transit facilities within the Federal public lands. Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(1)(B), the PLH funds were also available for operation and maintenance of transit facilities located on Federal public lands.
Under 23 U.S.C. 204(h), eligible projects under the PLH program may also include the following:
- Transportation planning for tourism and recreational travel, including the National Forest Scenic Byways Program, Bureau of Land Management Back Country Byways Program, National Trail System Program, and other similar Federal programs that benefit recreational development.
- Adjacent vehicular parking areas.
- Interpretive signage.
- Acquisition of necessary scenic easements and scenic or historic sites.
- Provision for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Construction and reconstruction of roadside rest areas, including sanitary and water facilities.
- Other appropriate public road facilities such as visitor centers as determined by the Secretary.
- A project to build a replacement of the federally owned bridge over the Hoover Dam in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area between Nevada and Arizona.
The only statutory criterion was found in 23 U.S.C. 202(b)(1)(B): "The Secretary shall give preference to those projects which were significantly impacted by Federal land and resource management activities that were proposed by a State that contains at least 3 percent of the total public land in the United States." The following eleven States have at least 3 percent of the Federal public lands in the United States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
FHWA Headquarters Program Office Contact
Public Lands Highways Program Coordinator
Office of Federal Lands Highway
Phone: (202) 493-0271