Interdependence of Federal, State, and Local Transportation Funding and Ownership

Transportation infrastructure is built, maintained, and operated by multiple levels of government and each level plays a role in delivering an integrated transportation system to serve national, state, and local needs. Components of the transportation system are owned and operated by all levels of government, creating a complex network of entities that plan, build, and operate roads, bridges, and transit systems. Current funding mechanisms consist of a mix of funding from all levels of government. This multi-layered system of ownership and funding can present challenges for project development and delivery. While there is a desire on the part of some policymakers for more “local control” of federal funding, the complexities and requirements of the federal-aid programs can prove burdensome to local entities.  The objective of this research is to document the different scales and complexities of owning, funding, building, and maintaining the transportation system for all levels of government. Additionally, this research will investigate the interdependence of funding sources and flexibility and system ownership and responsibility. Research tasks and activities could include (1) a detailed analysis of ownership and operational control of transportation system elements and how different needs and functions of the system are met in different states and at different levels of government; (2) an exploration of non-federal funding issues including a compendium of state methods for state and local government revenue generation; (3) an identification of the reasoning for differences in transportation system ownership, project delivery responsibilities, and funding; and (4) an examination of how federal funding flexibility is used currently to improve efficiency and accommodate these differences. Research into the complex and interdependent funding mechanisms for transportation is important to state departments of transportation and local transportation agencies as they face constrained budgets and shortfalls in federal funding. If local governments are encouraged to accept more responsibility for project delivery and funding to meet highway and transit needs, this research will benefit policymakers and stakeholders at all levels of government.  


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $450000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 19-20

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Wadsworth, Trey

  • Start Date: 20211006
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01773429
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 19-20
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 24 2021 3:14PM