search menu flickr twitter phone angle-left angle-right angle-up angle-down file-pdf link-ext doc-inv sitemap location map calendar credit-card clock facebook-squared minus plus cancel ok instagramm download inkwell

America’s road department outlines its vision for the future of the country’s streets

Dec 16, 2021

Corinne Kisner, Executive Director of NACTO, issued this statement in response to the Federal Highway Administration’s memo outlining how infrastructure spending should be prioritized to meet the country’s needs and goals.

FHWA will soon distribute an unprecedented $350 billion in infrastructure spending. NACTO applauds FHWA’s commitment to ensuring that this funding goes to projects that save lives, increase equity in our communities, and make meaningful progress on the climate crisis.

America’s cities share the Administration’s goals for investments that make the country’s streets and bridges safer, more accessible, sustainable, and equitable. The Administration today committed to clear steps to make that vision match the work on the ground. By clearly outlining which projects align with the goals of the infrastructure bill and which are better left on the drawing board, FHWA today outlined a vision for how to spend federal funds to advance local and national goals. 

Breaking from decades of no-strings-attached federal funding for transportation, this Administration has committed to taking a hands-on approach to ensure federal dollars upgrade the quality of the country’s infrastructure, improving safety, resilience, accessibility, and equity in the process. FHWA announced a number of actions intended to guide states and metropolitan planning organizations to select beneficial projects while ending incentives that favor projects counterproductive to national goals:

  • New guidance clarifies that street safety projects don’t need extensive environmental review, while increasing scrutiny on highway expansions that further the country’s dependency on fossil fuels.
  • Travel demand models that have long been used to justify indefinite highway growth must now take induced demand and potential greenhouse gas emissions into account. 
  • Most federal transportation funds have gone towards state-owned facilities, despite being eligible for use on a much wider variety of facilities. FHWA clarifies where most trips occur–local streets–and encourages recipients of federal funds to invest in this crucial infrastructure.
  • New FHWA policies will emphasize improving the roads and highways we have before building new ones.

With most federal transportation funding under their control, states have a wide variety of tools at their disposal to align transportation funding to national goals. From policies to prioritize highway maintenance over expansion, flexing formula funds to transit and active transportation projects, and measuring climate impacts, states have the power to build a better transportation future. To match the country’s needs and priorities, it is critical that more states emulate policies like Colorado’s visionary new policy to prioritize investment in projects that cut emissions.

For the Administration’s clear vision to be a reality, the Administration must closely and transparently track how states are spending federal transportation funds, scrutinizing projects that will result in expanded highways, higher greenhouse gas emissions, and more deaths on our streets. By measuring what we’re getting for our infrastructure investment, we can push for better outcomes for all Americans. As the government most responsive to their residents, cities look forward to continuing to partner with states and the federal government to improve the lives of all residents. 

About the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
NACTO is an association of 93 major North American cities and transit agencies formed to exchange transportation ideas, insights, and practices and cooperatively approach national transportation issues. The organization’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter at @NACTO.

Alex Engel | [email protected]

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2021