Construction And Maintenance
The construction and maintenance of highways are assumed by either the state, local communities, or a specifically designated agency. The actual plan of work in constructing, maintaining, or repairing highways is in the discretion of the highway authorities, whereas the state legislature determines their routes. The designation and location of a federally-aided state highway must be in accordance with federal and state law. A state, in its construction of a highway under the federal-aid primary system might be required to obtain the approval of federal agencies if the highway has a marked effect on the environment. The authorities may make provisions for the drainage of surface waters and for the building of ditches and culverts.
The construction and repair of public roads may be funded by general taxation, since the public roads are for a public purpose. The power to impose highway taxes vests in the legislature, and funds may be raised from vehicle taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, the sale of bonds, or by special assessments on the property for the amount necessary to cover the costs of construction or improvement.
In 1998 Congress enacted a law (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, Public Law (105-178) that required states to enact .08 as the blood alcohol count (BAC) needed to constitute the crime of driving while intoxicated. States that do not lower their BAC to meet this standard would lose federal highway funds. By 2003 two-thirds of the states had met this new federal standard.
The U.S. TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT, established by Congress, works with the states to establish and maintain a national highway system (23 U.S.C.A. § 101 et seq.). Federal revenues pay for most of the national highway system. Congress may withhold portions of these funds if states do not enact certain laws related to highways or highway use and affecting inter-state commerce. For example, Congress may withhold funding if a state does not set the minimum age for alcohol consumption at 21 years; suspend, for at least six months, the driver's license of persons convicted of drug offenses; or prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol.
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