Refreshing the Status Quo: Federal Highway Programs and Funding Distribution

This paper examines the past, present, and possible future of the distribution of Federal-aid highway funding to states. For the first seven decades of the Federal-aid highway program, while the apportionment formulas were always set by Congress and involved political compromises, the formulas were based on constantly updated real-world factors like state population, lane-miles, miles-traveled on the various highway systems, fuel usage and tax payments, and local air quality. Construction of the Interstate System was distributed based on the periodically updated cost estimate for completion of each state’s roads on the Interstate map.