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FHWA Home / Safety / HSIP / Highway Safety Improvement Program Manual

5.0 Implementation

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The previous three units focused on the planning component of the HSIP – identifying the problems, selecting appropriate countermeasures, and prioritizing projects.  Now it is time to implement the projects and put the planning efforts into action.

The first step towards implementing prioritized projects is to identify funding sources.  Once funding is identified, projects are included in the transportation improvement program and move forward into design and construction.

Unit 5 begins with a discussion on several funding topics, including:  HSIP funding requirements, other safety funding sources, allocation issues, and a discussion on state solutions to funding challenges.  This unit also includes a discussion on programming projects into the transportation improvement program and concludes with a discussion on the development of evaluation plans.

5.1 HSIP Funding Requirements

Under 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(3), a variety of highway safety improvement projects are eligible for HSIP funding on all public roadways.  States should identify projects or activities that are most likely to reduce the number of and potential for fatalities and serious injuries.  In most cases, the Federal share is 90 percent except for certain safety improvements listed in 23 U.S.C. 120(c) which are funded at 100 percent.

A highway safety improvement project is defined as a project consistent with the SHSP that corrects or improves a hazardous road location or feature or addresses a highway safety problem.  Projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

Many Federal funding sources are eligible for HSIP projects and programs.  The next section details these sources and additional behavior-related Federal funds which may be available to benefit HSIP programs and projects, especially through SHSP partnerships and initiatives.

5.2 Federal Safety Funding Sources

Funding for safety projects comes from a variety of Federal, state, and local sources.  This section identifies Federal funding resources to help leverage your HSIP projects and programs.

SAFETEA-LU established new programs and set-asides, including the following funding sources:

Other Federal-aid funds are eligible to support and leverage the HSIP.  States are encouraged to fund improvements to safety features routinely provided as part of a broader Federal-aid project from the same source as the broader project, as per 23 CFR 924.  States should address the full scope of their safety needs and opportunities on all roadway categories by using other funding sources such as the following:

In addition to the major highway program funding sources, other Federal safety resources may assist with HSIP implementation.  These grant programs are administered by NHTSA and FMCSA and can be used to assist with law enforcement efforts and improve traffic record data collection and data systems.  They include:

Many sources of funding are available to resourceful transportation safety professionals.  Sometimes understanding the regulations associated with the funding can be challenging.  The following section addresses the most common funding allocation issues and provides examples of what states have done to meet those challenges.

5.3 Funding Allocation Issues

The impact of HSIP funding allocations on state programs is not always as clear-cut as it may appear from reading the legislation.  While the issues are complicated and can provide challenges, they can often be overcome through collaboration and innovative solutions.

As an example, a flexible funding provision in SAFETEA‑LU allows states to use a portion HSIP funds for noninfrastructure projects if the state has adopted a strategic highway safety plan and certified all safety infrastructure and railway-highway crossing needs have been met.  The HSIP flexible funding provision allows states to transfer up to 10 percent of the HSIP funds to noninfrastructure projects identified in the SHSP, including projects to promote public awareness and educate the public concerning highway safety matters and projects to enforce highway safety laws.

A study focusing on HSIP implementation following SAFETEA‑LU found many states could not meet the certification requirement because of ongoing infrastructure needs and concerns about potential legal liability a state could incur by certifying all its infrastructure safety needs have been met; however, states working closely with their FHWA Division Offices have been able to certify the needs have been met and successfully flexed some of their HSIP funds.

State Allocation Issues

A primary allocation issue involves “best use of funds” versus “eligibility.”  To qualify as an eligible highway safety improvement project under Section 148, a project must be described in the state strategic highway safety plan and correct or improve a hazardous road location or feature, or address a highway safety problem.

Safety engineers and their managers should employ a proactive approach in allocating HSIP funding for projects.  The following tactics will help move projects forward, while optimizing the use of safety funds:

Making use of these practices also will help avoid potential allocation issues such as the following:

State Solutions

Some agency decision-makers have considerable discretion on proportional allocation and eligibility.  When a single activity accomplishes multiple purposes (e.g., pavement preservation and improved safety), these agencies attribute the cost associated with each improvement to the appropriate program.  Lack of flexibility encourages delivery of only single-purpose projects.  The ability to distribute the cost of a single project to multiple funding programs is an important asset when allocations are not restricted legislatively by eligible expenditures and amounts.

Safety engineers who are successful in making the case to “put the money on the road” use the following strategies to expedite the implementation of safety projects:

Once funding sources have been identified, the next step in implementing prioritized safety projects is to include them in the statewide transportation improvement program.

5.4 Programming Projects

The statewide transportation improvement program (STIP) is the financial programming document for the state.  It represents a commitment of the projects and programs that will be implemented throughout the state using Federal-aid transportation and transit funding.

For most categories of transportation projects, FHWA/‌FTA funds cannot be used unless the project is included in a fiscally constrained STIP.  Safety projects funded under 23 U.S.C. 104(b)(5) must be included in the STIP.

In urbanized areas with populations over 50,000, MPOs develop a transportation improvement program (TIP) which is the programming document for the metropolitan planning area.  The TIP identifies the projects and funding to be implemented to reach the vision for the metropolitan area’s transportation system and services.  The TIP represents a commitment of the projects and programs that will be implemented in the metropolitan planning area using local, state, and Federal-aid funds.  TIPs are incorporated directly, without change, into the STIP.

Amendments to the STIP are common given the frequent changes in engineering practices, environmental issues, contracting issues, project readiness, and other factors that can require adjustments to project schedules and budgets.

Improvements listed in the STIP may be by location or improvement type.  For example, several low-cost safety enhancements could be grouped together and listed as various safety improvements with an estimated cost and funding source identified.

Once projects have been programmed, they can move forward into design and construction.  However, since the HSIP is a data driven process, it is important to first develop an evaluation plan.

5.5 Evaluation Plan Development

Well-designed evaluations reduce agency reliance on professional judgment by providing quantitative information on the impacts of highway safety improvements.

Evaluation plans should always be considered prior to implementing any project or program.

The level of detail will depend upon the scope and complexity of the project or program.  Following are typical steps in developing the evaluation plan:

Rather than being considered an integral part of the HSIP process, evaluations are often an after thought.  As a result, the opportunity to collect critical baseline data may be lost thereby compromising the effectiveness of the evaluation.  Agencies should consider establishing evaluation guidelines to reinforce their commitment to evaluation, provide consistency, and improve the quality of evaluations.

5.6 Summary

Understanding HSIP funding requirements and sources, as well as potential allocation issues and solutions will assist in a smooth transition into the HSIP implementation process.  While incorporating safety into programs and projects may be challenging, states are proving it is possible to implement countermeasures that demonstrate safety benefits even with limited resources.  Development of an evaluation plan, prior to implementing the project, will help agencies identify the appropriate data to collect and use in the next phase of the HSIP process – evaluation.  The evaluation component of the HSIP process is critical as it documents the effectiveness of projects and programs and provides feedback to improve future project and program planning and implementation.

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Page last modified on July 15, 2011
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