Major Projects take shape during the Planning and Environmental stages; consequently, Division oversight of Major Projects needs to start during the Planning and Environmental stages. The ROD is too late for Divisions to begin focused, structured Major Project oversight.
Below are the kinds of questions that DAs should be asking early in Planning, as soon as they become aware of a Major Project taking shape in their states. Early in Planning, the Division's ability to answer these questions may be rudimentary and speculative, so the DA should revisit these questions periodically, as the project becomes refined throughout the Planning and Environmental stages.
Major Issues: What planning and environmental issues could significantly affect the cost and schedule for the project?
Staffing Capability: Do the Division and the state have the staff capability to manage the Planning and Environmental aspects of the Major Project? If not, what steps do the state and Division need to take to provide adequate staff capability?
Relationships: Do the Division and state have good, trusting relationships with other key players, both at the personal and the organizational level? If not, how can relationships and communication procedures be put in place as early as possible with other key players?
Multimodal Issues: How will other modes be affected? What opportunities are there to incorporate multimodal benefits into the Major Project? Does the state have a plan to coordinate and consult with other modal players early and frequently in the planning and environment stages?
Public Involvement and Awareness: Has the state developed a well-thought-out, effective strategy to educate and involve the public during planning and the environmental process? And a media strategy?
Fiscal Constraint: For each STIP, TIP, and Metro plan that contains the project, have the state and MPO adequately met FHWA/FTA's fiscal constraint requirements? (The Division should review STIPs, TIPs, and Metro Plans carefully to ensure that costs and revenues are adequately documented, for the Major Project, for all other Federal and regionally significant capital projects, and for operating and maintaining the existing highway and transit system.)
Documentation Procedures: Do the state and Division have adequate procedures to document each step in the project and build a project file, so as to withstand future litigation?
FEIS: Does the Major Project FEIS meet all NEPA requirements? Does the FEIS contain a credible cost estimate, vetted by FHWA? Are the preferred alternative and the cost estimate in the FEIS consistent with the Project shown in any contemporaneous TIP, STIP, and plan?