The administration of highway projects differs from one country to another, depending upon social, political and economic factors. The design, construction and maintenance of major national primary routes such as motorways or dual carriageways are generally the responsibility of a designated government department or an agency of it, with funding, in the main, coming from central government. Those of secondary importance, feeding into the national routes, together with local roads, tend to be the responsibility of local authorities. Central government or an agency of it will usually take responsibility for the development of national standards.
The Highways Agency is an executive organisation charged within England with responsibility for the maintenance and improvement of the motorway/trunk road network. (In Ireland, the National Roads Authority has a similar function.) It operates on behalf of the relevant government minister who still retains responsibility for overall policy, determines the framework within which the Agency is permitted to operate and establishes its goals and objectives and the time frame within which these should take place.
In the United States, the US Federal Highways Agency has responsibility at federal level for formulating national transportation policy and for funding major projects that are subsequently constructed, operated and maintained at state level. It is one of nine primary organisational units within the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). The Secretary of Transportation, a member of the President’s cabinet, is the USDOT’s principal.
Each state government has a department of transportation that occupies a pivotal position in the development of road projects. Each has responsibility for the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of its federally funded highway system. In most states, its highway agency has responsibility for developing routes within the state-designated system. These involve roads of both primary and secondary state-wide importance. The state department also allocates funds to local government. At city/county level, the local government in question sets design standards for local roadways as well as having responsibility for maintaining and operating them.