Highway Right-of-Way Program Administration by Wisconsin and Michigan and the Federal Highway Administration

CED-82-110: Published: Jul 13, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 1982.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Oliver W. Krueger
(202) 275-5514
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO selected two states with large right-of-way acquisition programs that are active in federal aid revolving fund, property management, or property disposal programs in order to determine whether: (1) the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) is effectively administering the right-of-way acquisition funds; and (2) states are effectively using the land acquired for rights-of-way in their highway construction programs.

GAO found that several weaknesses in the administration of the program exist in the states reviewed. Wisconsin did not promptly return to the federal government several million dollars in revolving fund advances used to acquire land for projects that would not be built within the 10-year time limit for construction. In Michigan, construction did not begin within the 10-year time limit on right-of-way projects for which it received approximately $2 million in regular federal-aid funds. In both states, land was erroneously acquired under the requirement to purchase uneconomic remnants. GAO concluded that, in cases where projects are not progressing and will not be built within the 10-year time limit for construction, FHwA should not wait until the expiration of the time limit before requiring the state to either repay the funds or justify retaining them. Although regulations are not specific as to when the time limit expires and extensions may be granted, GAO believes that the state should be required either to formally request an extension or to refund the federal funds. GAO also found that Michigan and Wisconsin accumulated a large inventory of excess land and that it had been erroneously charged to the federal government. FHwA has successfully made efforts to correct the improper charges.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FHwA to: (1) emphasize to its division offices their authority to initiate such actions; and (2) instruct the divisions to review their revolving fund projects and, where appropriate, to require the states to justify retaining the revolving fund advances or to refund them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FHwA to emphasize to its division offices how this limit is to be computed and to instruct them to review their converted right-of-way projects to ensure that they comply with the limitation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation was predicated upon statements by Wisconsin officials that projects would not be built. Subsequently, FHwA informed GAO that it has determined that none of the projects have been dropped, and that Wisconsin claims that it plans to advance the projects to construction. Accordingly, FHwA informed GAO that it has no basis to dispute Wisconsin's claim.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct FHwA to recover such revolving fund advances from Wisconsin, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 2, 2016

Aug 8, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 13, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Jun 24, 2016

Jun 21, 2016

May 26, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here