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    History of the NPS Transportation Program

    The first federal funds for roads serving federal lands-in this case, national forests-were provided by the Congress in the Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916; Congress also established the National Park Service that same year.

    Federal funding for roads, trails, and bridges in national park system units began about 1924. In 1925 the first interagency agreement was struck between the Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads (the predecessor of today's FHWA) to provide road design and construction assistance. The early NPS also established partnerships with railroad companies, who provided rail spurs and lodges in the parks. The Civilian Conservation Corps, another important partner, constructed roads leading to and within many national parks.

    1920's Central Vermont engine
    Warren Covered Bridge
    1913 Ford Model T
    1920s Central Vermont engine pulling passenger cars on an excursion through Northfield in 1972
    Photograph from Picture Northfield, courtesy of Alan H. Weiss
    Warren Covered Bridge | Photograph courtesy of the Mad River Valley Planning District
    1913 Ford Model T touring automobile
    Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, Hult.407 2028.407

    The first collaboration between the NPS and the FHWA was the construction of a road across the continental divide in Glacier National Park; that road later was named the Going to the Sun Highway. This relationship continues today, making it one of the longest-running formal partnerships between any two federal agencies. This partnership is known as the Federal Lands Transportation Program, a component of the Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP), established by federal legislation in 1982.

    An interagency agreement developed in 1983 specified the roles and responsibilities of the two agencies. THe National Park Service's role is to ensure the protection of the parks and for setting the priority of projects. The FHWA provides engineering expertise, is responsible for program oversight, and is the formal voice to the Congress.