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Chapter 2 - Highway Administrative Structure

This section of the report briefly describes the structure of the highway authority for each country visited. This step established the state of practice of each country regarding roadway geometric design and CSD. The countries are presented in the order in which they were visited.


The Swedish National Road Administration (SNRA) is the highway agency responsible for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining the transportation network in Sweden. The country is divided into seven regions, similar to states, and has a roadway network of approximately 421,000 km.(2) A small percentage of these roads (88,000 km) is under the direct responsibility of SNRA and the remaining roads are either municipal (39,000 km) or private roads (284,000 km). However, the bulk of travel (70 percent of vehicle-km) is completed on the state-maintained roads. The SARA has a primary goal "to ensure a socio-economically efficient transport system that is sustainable in the long term for individuals and industry throughout the country." To achieve this goal, five subgoals have been identified, including high accessibility of the system, high transport quality, no fatalities or serious injuries, a good fit in the environment, and promotion of regional development. The most important subgoal among these is the desire to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries (zero mission) by 2007, which is a parliamentary objective regarding road safety.(3)

A strategic infrastructure plan addresses transportation system needs in a 10-year process with a 4-year planning cycle. These plans cover national road and rail requirements and are developed by SNRA in cooperation with regional authorities. Regional plans are developed by regional authorities for each county. The plans include investment schemes, maintenance requirements, safety and environmental concerns, and capacity requirements. The 10-year budget for the national road plan is approximately 87 billion SEK (US$10 billion) with 56 billion SEK allotted to roadway maintenance, which includes operational and rehabilitation costs. To address the zero mission, projects have been reoriented to increase the number and, thus, funding for projects that contribute to the overall safety goal. Funding is also provided by the European Union (EU) for the Trans European Road Network, a roadway network that is similar to the U.S. Interstate system.

An additional focal point of the Danish plan is the National Road Safety Policy, which states that "every accident is one too many."


The Road Directorate is the state agency of the Ministry of Transport responsible for roadways in Denmark. The Directorate has two primary tasks: 1) road sector activities, including roadway guidelines, research and development, educational responsibilities, maintenance of databases, support and development of policy, and international activities; and 2) highway authority activities, including planning, construction, and operation of the state road network. The Danish roadway network consists of approximately 72,000 km, only 1,650 km of which are under the direct supervision of the Directorate. Approximately 10,000 km are regional roads under the supervision of county agencies, and the remaining local roadways are under the supervision of municipalities. An interesting statistic for Denmark is the average car and bicycle ownership per household: 0.7 cars and 2 bicycles. These vehicle figures also shape the focus of the Road Directorate, which has to address the needs of many more bicyclists while considering vehicle requirements.

In 1993, the Danish Masterplan for Transport was developed with goals to create a new balance by sustaining development in transport, reducing traffic growth, improving alternatives to cars, increasing traffic safety, enhancing the urban environment, and increasing research and development.(4) Specific targets for each of these goals were initially set, such as reducing traffic casualties by 45 percent for the 1988-2000 period, stabilizing CO2 levels by 2005 to 1988 levels and reducing them by 25 percent by 2030, promoting urban cycling and walking, and improving the traffic environment in urban areas to achieve an overall better quality of life. An additional focal point of this plan is the National Road Safety Policy, which states that "every accident is one too many." This vision guides most of the Danish design approach, which aims to not only achieve the goal stated above but exceed it, if possible. To reduce crashes, safety strategies are focusing on safety of cyclists, speed management, reduced alcohol use and driving, and intersection areas. The focus is on these areas in light of an analysis of crash data that showed approximately 85 percent of all crashes involve at least one of these factors.(5)

The Road Directorate has established a National Cycling Policy to address the needs of the large number of cyclists. The main goal of the policy is not to abandon travel by car but to strengthen travel by bike and increase its use as a transport mode. The main objective of the policy is to improve the urban environment by developing coherent planning and design of a bicycle network, improving maintenance and comfort of bicycle facilities, improving safety, initiating local activities, increasing research, and improving cooperation between state and local authorities. The planning and design philosophy of the Road Directorate for urban areas considers the ease of car travel secondary to traffic safety, the ease of vulnerable users to travel, and public transport.

The Netherlands

The Ministry of Transport and Public Works is responsible for policy, operation, and research of the Dutch transport network. Five directorates each deal with a specific component of the system, including public works and water management, freight transport, passenger transport, civil aviation, and telecommunications and post. Research centers are part of these directorates, and the Transport Research Center (AVV) is one of three centers with responsibilities for research on infrastructure, statistics, and policy development. The Ministry is responsible for 2,500 km of roadways, which are mostly motorways (freeways), while the remaining 125,000 km are under the responsibility of the local governments.

The Dutch version of safety goals and targets is similar to that of the Swedish and Danish governments. The objective of the plan, called "Sustainable Safety," is to achieve a 50 percent reduction in crashes and a 40 percent reduction in serious injury crashes by 2010.(6) These goals are expected to be achieved by focusing on reduced alcohol use, increased use of seat belts, speed management, separation of cyclists and vehicles, improving hazardous locations, addressing issues regarding heavy vehicles, and providing a road network infrastructure that is self-explaining. Three cardinal rules for sustainable safety include recognizing human limits within the roadway design, developing vehicles that prevent users from getting harmed, and educating users in road behavior. The design approach reflects these objectives as "functionality" (use of roadway as intended), "homogeneity" (no high-speed variations), and "predictability" (roadways should drive as they look). The ultimate objective is development of a uniform roadway network where similar roadways will look and drive alike. Dutch officials are currently reviewing geometric design guidelines and reclassifying roadways to conform with their new classification concept.

Projects are categorized based on their impact on safety, environment, economy, accessibility, and integration within the existing system.

The Dutch Ministry is taking several steps to reach its goal of sustainable safety, including introducing uniform speed limits in residential areas of 30 km/h in urban and 60 km/h in rural areas, altering the priority rules in roundabouts, increasing public education campaigns, and incorporating safety audits as part of a uniform design check. Phase 1 of the sustainable safety program will cost approximately 400 million guilders (US$200 million), half of which will come from the central government and half from the provincial and local governments. Implementation of the next phase requires an investment of 12 billion guilders (US$6 billion); the entire program will cost approximately 30 billion (US$15 billion). Currently, 60 percent of the urban and 40 percent of the rural roadway network have been converted to enforce the concept of the new lower speeds. Several other roadways are also in the process of conversion. Finally, an underlying precept in all these plans is the commitment to "making better use of the existing system," which demonstrates the decision to utilize existing resources to their fullest capacity.


The Highways Agency is the responsible authority for maintaining, operating, and improving the 6,500 miles of trunk roads and motorways in England. The government has charged the Highways Agency to maintain, operate, and improve the motorway and trunk road network in support of the government's transport and land-use planning policies.(7) Several objectives will help meet this goal, including reducing congestion, minimizing the roadway impact to the natural and built environment, improving safety for all road users, promoting choice and information for travelers, and shifting the focus to maintenance of roadways instead of new construction. This shift in focus necessitates a more efficient use of existing roadways and development of a prioritized list of improvements. Projects are categorized based on their impact on safety, environment, economy, accessibility, and integration within the existing system.

As in the other countries, a road safety strategy targets a 40 percent reduction in fatalities and serious injuries by 2010 accompanied by a 10 percent reduction in slight injuries for all non-motorways and trunk roads in Great Britain.(8) Target groups including vehicle occupants, bicyclists, high-risk age groups, heavy vehicles, and roadway workers have been identified as potential means for reaching these figures. Several initiatives are under way for each of these target groups. For example, road layouts that encourage safer driver behavior have been introduced to address car occupant issues; more initiatives have been taken to reduce drinking and driving; higher emphasis has been placed on developing the National Cycle Network and supporting implementation of safer bicycle routes; and research is under way to identify problems of teenage and elderly drivers.

The Agency also has taken a new role in operating the network to make better use of existing roadways through the use of technological developments and innovative ideas. Promoting use of public transport and making bicycle lanes more attractive are two of the schemes that the Agency employs in improving service without building new roads. To further promote these schemes, the Agency developed a tool kit that provides techniques and innovative ideas for managing, maintaining, and developing roadways. Furthermore, the Agency has recently developed a new Environmental Strategic Plan that ensures controlled and reduced impact of roadways on the environment.(9)


The agency responsible for roadway planning, design, and construction is the Division for Roads and Road Transport, which is part of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Housing. This Division has several subdivisions with varied responsibilities, including environmental protection, research, road traffic engineering, acquisition of right of way, and development of federal transport networks for the various states, known as "laender." Three road categories, including federal state roads and municipal roads, are classified as federal highways and thus are under the supervision of the Division. Each state is responsible for constructing, maintaining, and operating the federal roads on behalf of the Federal Ministry and is invited to use relevant guidelines for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining the state roads.

The design guidelines used in the past have been recently evaluated and modified to address design consistency. The new guidelines are simply recommended practices for all roads, except federal highways, which require a more strict approach to the guidelines. Due, in part, to financial constraints, these new guidelines were developed under the notion that only necessary roads are to be built, not ideal or wider roads. This approach was based on the idea that roads should be built to a more human scale and minimize environmental impact issues.


All countries visited share some common characteristics with respect to their highway agencies. One national agency is responsible for developing and maintaining the national motorway system, which typically is a small fraction of the entire roadway network. Each government has given these agencies a safety mandate, with target levels ranging from no fatalities to a 40 percent reduction in fatalities and serious injuries. This focus on safety sets the stage for most actions regarding roadway geometric design and project development that address targeted groups of roadway users.

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