Transportation 101

An Introduction to Federal Transportation Policy

• Full Document (2.2 mb pdf)

Do you want to learn a little more about federal transportation policy, like the history of the program, how the Interstate System was started, how earmarks came to be so prevalent or how the federal role in funding transportation has changed throughout the years?

Back in 2011, Transportation for America put together this guidebook to provide some clarity on the history of the program, how it works (or doesn’t work) today and the new challenges facing us for the next 50 years. While some of the material covering reauthorization is out of date (it was written before MAP-21 was passed in 2012, replaced by the FAST Act in 2015), this document is still a good introduction to the history of the federal transportation program and explains the reauthorization process overall.

This guidebook is divided into six sections:

1) The history of federal transportation policy
2) Funding and revenue collection and distribution
3) How our current federal program works
4) How the federal policies are implemented at various levels of government
5) The re-authorization process
6) The future of federal transportation policy

Download the full document, which has a handy glossary of common transportation terms in the back or the short executive summary.