FHWA Rescinds Guidance Discouraging Road Expansions

A decision from the Government Accountability Office spurred by Republican pushback led the agency to issue a new memo abandoning its previous stance, which ‘gently’ promoted maintenance work over new road construction.

1 minute read

February 28, 2023, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Highway Construction

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Under pressure from Republican lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is walking back its effort to promote road maintenance and multimodal infrastructure over new highway construction, reports Alex Daugherty in Politico.

Daugherty explains that “The Federal Highway Administration issued a new policy memo on Friday that rescinds previous language it had sent to states in December, which had urged them to use money from the 2021 infrastructure law on ‘fix it first’ programs.” Now, states can spend federal infrastructure funding however they want, with no guidance encouraging investment in pedestrian and bike infrastructure or transit.

Although the language in the 2021 memo was nonbinding, “the Government Accountability Office determined that the document went beyond listing legal requirements and instead expressed a policy preference.” The new memo prioritizes states’ rights, stating, “FHWA recognizes and values the authority and role of the States in deciding how to prioritize the use of their Federal-aid highway dollars and will continue to administer funds and programs consistent with all requisite statutory requirements and considerations.”

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