Local Transportation Agencies

Public streets, roads, and highways are owned by cities, towns, villages, tribal governments, counties, regional transportation agencies, state agencies, or Federal entities such as the Bureau of Land Management. FHWA does not "own" highways; they are owned and operated by state or local DOTs. The owner of the street usually assumes responsibility for improving, maintaining, and operating the facility. In some cases, agreements between entities define which agency is responsible for various aspects of maintaining, operating, or enforcing laws on the street. For example, when state-owned roadways pass through urban areas, an agreement may require the City or County to operate and maintain traffic signals. Occasionally, several entities will share responsibility for one street or intersection. Your local transportation agency can help you determine who has jurisdiction over various roadways and help direct you to someone who can address your issue.

Local transportation agencies with responsibility for public roadways include county, city, town, village, or tribal entities. Entity names vary, but can include:

  • Public Works Department
  • Transportation Department
  • Street Department

Their responsibilities vary, but generally on public streets they:

  • Maintain and enforce policies and standards for street features such as lane width, bike lane width, traffic signal locations, and intersection design
  • Maintain and operate traffic signals on local streets
  • Maintain and operate traffic signals on state owned streets within the city
  • Install and maintain street lights
  • Install and maintain markings such as crosswalks, bike lanes, and lane markings
  • Install and maintain street signs
  • Develop and implement programs or strategies to address neighborhood speeding or cut-through concerns
  • Develop and implement projects to upgrade existing streets or expand the roadway network
  • Collaborate with local, regional, or state planning entities to forecast future traffic needs and plan future changes in the roadway network

City, county, state, or federal Parks and Recreation Departments usually have jurisdiction over off-street paths and trails. Their responsibilities often include planning, construction, maintenance, and enforcement of regulations on shared-use trails.

Transit entities, which may be independent or within the agencies listed above, usually install and maintain transit shelters.