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 are 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 is 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 is 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.
In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 204(b), the Federal share of the costs for any project eligible under this program is 100 percent.
The PLHD funds are subject to obligation limitation; however, 100 percent obligation authority is 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 are eligible to apply for PLHD funding.
In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 204(b)(5), the PLH funds are available for "any kind of transportation project eligible for assistance under Title 23, United States Code, that is 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 are 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 are 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 is found in 23 U.S.C. 202(b)(1)(B): "The Secretary shall give preference to those projects which are significantly impacted by Federal land and resource management activities that are 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.
Announcement of Awards / Allocation of Funds
After the applications are received, it is required that Congress be notified before the funds are allocated to the States. When this Congressional notification process is completed, the Federal Lands Highway Office will issue an announcement by email to all FHWA division offices, announcing the PLHD projects that will be funded and the amount of funding for each project.
At that time, States may request that funds be allocated for any projects for which the funds are ready to be obligated. The State transportation agency shall send an email to the FHWA division office indicating the project, the amount requested for allocation, and the date by which the funds will be obligated. The Federal Lands Highway Office will issue the allocation memorandum within a few days of receiving the allocation request.
State Transportation Agency Responsibilities
- Coordinate with State, local, tribal and Federal agencies within the State to develop project applications.
- Ensure that the applications are completed for candidate projects in accordance with the submission requirements outlined above.
- Submit the applications electronically to the local FHWA division office on time so that the submission deadline can be met.
- Submit request to FHWA division office for allocation of funds, after awards are announced and when project funds are ready to be obligated.
FHWA Division Office Responsibilities
- Provide the solicitation memorandum and this program information to the State transportation agency electronically to facilitate their electronic submission of applications.
- Request candidate projects be submitted by the State to the FHWA division office electronically to meet the submission deadline established in the solicitation.
- Review all candidate applications submitted by the State prior to sending them to FHWA Headquarters to ensure that they are complete and meet the submission requirements.
Submit the candidate applications electronically to the FHWA Headquarters Federal Lands Highway Office as outlined in the solicitation memorandum. Include the following with the transmitting Email message:
- Statement from the division office that the State's submittal has been reviewed by the division office and that it meets the submission requirements.
- State transportation department submission email or letter to the FHWA division office. (This will document that all applications were submitted by the State transportation department, as required by law.)
- Each MS Word two-page application as a separate attachment.
- Forward award announcement to the State.
- Forward allocation requests from State to the Federal Lands Highway Office, via email to Cindi Ptak (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FHWA Headquarters Program Office Responsibilities
- Solicit applications from the States through annual solicitation memorandum.
- Review applications and compile appropriate program and project information for the Office of the Federal Highway Administrator.
- Issue award announcement via email to all FHWA division offices.
- Allocate funds upon receipt of request from State through the FHWA division office.
FHWA Headquarters Program Office Contact
Public Lands Highways Program Coordinator
Office of Federal Lands Highway
Phone: (202) 493-0271
Fax: (202) 366-7495
Public Lands Highways Discretionary Fact Sheet
The Public Lands Highway Discretionary (PLHD) Program is one of two components of the Public Lands Highway (PLH) Program, along with the Forest Highway (FH) Program.
View the Public Lands Highways Discretionary Fact Sheet (Acrobat, 1.2 MB)