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Stewardship and Oversight Agreement

Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department & Federal Highway Administration Arkansas Division Office

October 20, 2009

This Stewardship and Oversight Agreement (Agreement) is made between the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Arkansas Division Office. The purpose of this Agreement is to assist in the implementation of the provisions contained in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) of 2005 and previous Federal Highway Authorization Acts. This Agreement covers all major aspects associated with the administration of the Federal-aid Highway Program (FAHP) under Title 23, Title 49 and other associated laws.

This Agreement supersedes the existing Project Oversight Plan dated October 1, 1993 and revised December 3, 2001 and shall become effective on October 20, 2009 and remain in effect until superseded. It is understood that this Agreement may be supplemented by several laws, regulations, directives, manuals and operating guides as stated in Appendix A of this Agreement.

Approved by

Dan Flowers, Director of Highways and Transportation

Sandra L. Otto, Division Administrator FHWA -Arkansas Division

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SECTION 1 – INTRODUCTION

1.1 Purpose

Pursuant to 23 USC 106 (c), the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Arkansas Division Office, agree to follow the procedures set forth in this Stewardship and Oversight Agreement (Agreement) to carry out their respective stewardship and oversight responsibilities in the delivery of the Federal-aid Highway Program.

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) of 1998, and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) of 2005 provided flexibility to the States in how to ensure project actions are carried out in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies. TEA-21, Section 1305 (a) required that FHWA and AHTD enter into an agreement showing the extent of AHTD's assumption of the United States Department of Transportation Secretary's responsibilities.

ISTEA and TEA-21 altered the Federal Highway Administration's role from full project oversight and approval of every project or activity funded with Federal-aid funds to program oversight and some targeted project level approval. The program and project assumptions made possible under Section 1016 of ISTEA and Section 1305 of TEA-21 require that AHTD accept these assumed responsibilities and provide greater program accountability due to lesser Federal involvement. With the passage of SAFETEA-LU, the overall program has evolved requiring a more comprehensive agreement that covers all aspects of the Federal-aid Highway Program (FAHP); including financial integrity and the administration of projects sponsored by Local Public Agencies (LPA) or any other sub-recipient of Federal-aid funds.

By signing this Agreement, AHTD and FHWA agree to adhere to the provisions and responsibilities included herein. AHTD and FHWA further agree to carry out their responsibilities in a true spirit of cooperation.

1.2 Acronyms
AASHTO
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
ADA
Americans with Disabilities Act
ADEM
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management
AHTD
Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department
AHP
Arkansas Highway Police
ASP
Arkansas State Police
BMS
Bridge Management System
CE
Categorical Exclusion
CEI
Construction Engineering and Inspection
CEQ
Council on Environmental Quality
CFO
Chief Financial Officer
CFR
Code of Federal Regulations
COOP
Continuity of Operations Plan
CUF
Commercially Useful Function
CMAQ
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality
DBE
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
DOT
Department of Transportation
EA
Environmental Assessment
EEO
Equal Employment Opportunity
EFT
Electronic Funds Payment
EIS
Environmental Impact Statement
EPA
Environmental Protection Agency
ER
Emergency Relief
FAHP
Federal-aid Highway Program
FAPA
Federal-aid Project Agreement
FHWA
Federal Highway Administration
FIRE
Financial Integrity Review and Evaluation
FMCSA
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
FMIS
Fiscal Management Information System
FONSI
Finding of No Significant Impact
FTA
Federal Transit Administration
GARVEE
Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle
HBRRP
Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program
HPR
Highway Planning and Research
HPMS
Highway Performance Monitoring System
HRRR
High Risk Rural Roads
HSIP
Highway Safety Improvement Program
HSO
Highway Safety Officer
HSP
Highway Safety Program
IA
Independent Assurance
IBRD
Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment
IPIA
Improper Payment Information Act of 2002
ISTEA
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991
ITS
Intelligent Transportation Systems
LPA
Local Public Agency
LRFD
Load-Resistance Factor Design
MBE
Minority Business Enterprise
MIHE
Minority Institute of Higher Education
MPO
Metropolitan Planning Organization
MUTCD
Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices
NBIS
National Bridge Inspection Standards
NEPA
National Environmental Policy Act
NHS
National Highway System
NHSD
National Highway System Designation Act of 1995
NHTSA
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
OIG
Office of Inspector General
OJT
On-the-Job Training
PE
Preliminary Engineering
PMP
Project Management Plan
PMS
Pavement Management System
PPP
Public-Private Partnership
PR/PE
Process Review/Product Evaluation
PS&E
Plans, Specifications, and Estimate
P&PD
Planning and Project Development
QA
Quality Assurance
RASPS
Rapid Approval and State Payment System
RETCO
Regional Emergency Transportation Coordinator
RFP
Request for Proposal
ROD
Record of Decision
ROW
Right-of-Way
SAFETEA-LU
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005
SEP
Special Experimental Project
SHSP
Strategic Highway Safety Plan
SIB
State Infrastructure Bank
SRTS
Safe Routes to School
STIP
State Transportation Improvement Program
STP
Surface Transportation Program
TEA-21
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century of 1998
TIFIA
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act
TIP
Transportation Improvement Program
TMA
Transportation Management Area
TRCC
Traffic Records Coordinating Committee
TS&L
Type, Size and Location
UPWP
Unified Planning Work Progress
USC
United States Code
USDOT
United States Department of Transportation

SECTION 2 – STEWARDSHIP AND OVERSIGHT OF FEDERAL-AID PROJECT

At the time a project is programmed (State job number and name is assigned) a preliminary determination of Federal (F) or State (S) oversight will be made and the appropriate (F) or (S) will be placed at the end of the job name. If oversight responsibility subsequently changes, the (F) or (S) designation will be changed accordingly. Oversight responsibility will be determined according to the criteria listed under this section of the Agreement.

2.1 AHTD Oversight Responsibilities

AHTD agrees that where it assumes Title 23 oversight role and approval responsibilities, it will be responsible for ensuring that Federal-aid highway projects are developed and constructed in full compliance with Federal laws and regulations, and with current approved specifications, standards and manuals. Although FHWA is ultimately responsible for all Federal-aid highway projects, AHTD will assume oversight responsibility for the following projects:

  • All non-Interstate projects, with exceptions noted in Section 2.2
  • All Interstate system projects which are estimated to cost less than $5 million (construction cost), and all preventive maintenance projects on the Interstate system as described in Section 2.3.

FHWA will continue to authorize the above-listed types of projects for fiscal purposes on a project-by-project basis.

2.2 FHWA Oversight Responsibilities

FHWA will retain oversight responsibility for:

  • All Interstate system projects which are estimated to cost more than $5 million (construction costs), including overpass and interchange projects within the Interstate system, with the exception of preventive maintenance projects as described in Section 2.3
  • All projects which are estimated to cost more than $5 million (construction costs) on Congressionally-designated High Priority Corridors 1, 8, 18 and 39 (Highway 71, Highway 412, Future I-69 including the Pine Bluff-Monticello connector, and Highway 63 (Future I-555) between Marked Tree and I-55) with the exception of preventive maintenance projects as described in Section 2.3.
  • All projects which are estimated to cost more than $5 million (construction costs) on Highway 67 (freeway north of Interstate 40), North Belt, and Highway 65 north of Highway 412 with the exception of preventive maintenance projects as described in Section 2.3.
  • All projects where by mutual agreement FHWA and AHTD require Federal oversight responsibility regardless of route designation or project cost.
  • Design consultant contracts for any project for which it has oversight responsibility for construction.
  • All planning activities on all Federal-aid highway projects.

FHWA will provide engineering support and technical assistance for project development activities. FHWA will also provide engineering support for project development and/or construction activities on other projects when requested by AHTD.

The FHWA shall approve preliminary plans for unusual bridges and structures on the Interstate System (See Memorandum dated November 13, 1998 from Director, Office of Engineering to Division Administrators). Unusual bridges and structures are defined as having: (1) difficult or unique foundation problems, (2) new or complex designs with unique operational or design features, (3) bridges with exceptionally long spans, or (4) bridges being designed with procedures that depart form currently recognized acceptable practices.

FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of applicable non-Title 23 and non-Title 49 requirements. Such oversight will be conducted through a combination of both project and program level activities. Applicable non-Title 23 and non-Title 49 requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969
  • Section 4 (f) of the DOT Act of 1966
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Properties Acquisition Policies Act of 1970
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE)
  • Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990
  • Routine day-to-day FHWA program actions and other interaction.

FHWA will manage and provide oversight of the FAHP in various ways. The methods used will be:

  • FHWA participation at AHTD's request on AHTD task forces, teams, implementation committees, reviews and attendance at AHTD meetings.
  • Joint AHTD-FHWA Process Reviews / Product Evaluation (PR/PE) reviews on program areas as needed and determined in accordance with the FHWA's risk assessment process and/or other high importance program areas. PR/PE reviews consist of comprehensively reviewing and evaluating AHTD and/or LPA policies, procedures, practices and controls for the development and implementation of Federal-aid highway projects and programs. PR/PE reviews will be utilized as the primary methods of program oversight.
  • FIRE -Financial Integrity Review and Evaluation Program to assess the financial aspects of programs and projects.

Forest Highway, Public Lands or other project types that are administered by FHWA's Federal Lands Highway Division are subject to Federal oversight in accordance with the agreement between AHTD and the FHWA Federal Lands Highway Division.

2.3 Preventive Maintenance Projects
  • For purposes of this Agreement, preventive maintenance projects include all projects under $5 million (construction costs) that provide cost effective treatments to an existing roadway system and its appurtenances with the intent to preserve the system, retard future deterioration, and maintain or improve the functional condition of the system without increasing structural or operational capacity.
  • These projects are routine, low-risk and generally non-controversial in which AHTD has a high-level of experience and documented procedures and processes in place for ensuring compliance with Federal requirements. These projects would not include complex or unique engineering features, would not traditionally involve major changes in scope or cost, would not jeopardize design standards, and would not impact the safety and/or operation of the roadway systems.
  • For these projects, FHWA will still provide oversight by using a risk based approach and process/program reviews. It is understood that FHWA's approval of funds for these projects at either the preconstruction or construction phase constitutes a determination that the project in question is eligible for Federal-aid funds and that the appropriate Federal requirements have been met to date or defined steps are to be taken to ensure that requirements will be met.

SECTION 3 – ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR SPECIFIC PROGRAM AREAS

3.1 Civil Rights Program
3.1.1 Program Overview

AHTD is responsible for developing and maintaining the following program documents:

  • Title VI Plan
  • Limited English Proficiency Plan
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program Plan
  • Affirmative Action Plan
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Contract Compliance Plan
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Access for Individuals with Disabilities Under Section 504

FHWA has oversight for the DBE and On-the-Job Training (OJT) Supportive Services programs, and the Minority Institute of Higher Education (MIHE) outreach. Further, FHWA validates compliance with Title VI, Title VII and the DBE programs through the Stewardship Review Program.
AHTD will submit the following reports to FHWA:

  • PR-1392
  • EEO-4
  • DBE Goal and Methodology
  • Supportive Services Report (DBE and OJT)
  • Affirmative Action Plan Update
  • Title VI Plan Update
  • EEO Contract Compliance Reports
  • OJT Supportive Services Report
  • Annual MIHE Report

Appendix B includes a list of required actions associated with the FAHP. It also includes the responsibilities of FHWA and AHTD and the required frequency.

3.1.2 Operating Environment

FHWA tracks the Civil Rights program through a variety of means. FHWA accomplishes its oversight through DBE/EEO compliance reviews during construction inspections of FHWA oversight projects. FHWA and AHTD may also undertake on-site reviews of Federal-aid highway projects to interview trainees, apprentices, women and minority workers to ensure they are being treated fairly on the jobs and being paid appropriately.

3.1.3 DBE Certification Process

AHTD ensures that the DBE Certification process is accomplished in accordance with Federal requirements and will conduct sufficient Commercially Useful Function (CUF) reviews of DBE subcontractors on active construction projects to be statistically significant. In addition, AHTD will investigate all third-party complaints in a timely and responsible manner.

3.2 Planning and Programming
3.2.1 Program Overview

Planning and programming is the initiation state of the project identification, selection and development process. Planning and programming is broken down into three distinct elements, all leading to the establishment of project scope, budget and schedule: Statewide Planning, Metropolitan Planning and Research. See Appendix B for a list of required actions and the responsibilities of AHTD and FHWA associated with the FAHP.

3.2.2 Statewide Planning

Statewide Planning is the responsibility of AHTD and includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Statewide Intermodal Transportation Plan
  • Statewide Transportation Improvement Program
  • Functional classification
  • Urban area boundaries
  • National Highway System modifications
  • Traffic monitoring program
  • Highway statistics program
  • Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS)

AHTD will follow its adopted Public Involvement Meeting / Public Hearing Procedures included in Appendix C. FHWA's Planning and Program Development (P&PD) Team issues eligibility determinations for CMAQ, Transportation Enhancement, and Recreational Trails programs, and coordinates and assists with Federal discretionary programs such as Scenic Byways. The P&PD Team also takes the lead in conducting Motor Fuel Tax and Heavy Vehicle Use Tax reviews, but it is AHTD's responsibility to ensure the reported figures are reasonable and reconciled with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

3.2.3 Metropolitan Planning

Metropolitan Planning is the responsibility of eight Metropolitan Planning Organizations that are supported and monitored by AHTD and the FHWA P&PD Team. To ensure that the cooperative process occurs at the MPO level, AHTD has established a presence on each MPO Policy Board and Technical Committee. FHWA is also represented on each Technical Committee as a non-voting member. AHTD and FHWA actively participate in the planning process for each MPO. A Transportation Management Area (TMA) is an area over 200,000 in population. These are monitored through joint FHWA/Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Certification Reviews conducted every four years. AHTD will work with the P&PD Team for review and approval of the MPO Unified Planning Work Programs (UPWPs) to assure planning issues are addressed and key deadlines are met.

3.2.4 Research

Research is managed by AHTD in accordance with 23 CFR 420.209, which includes the sponsorship of a periodic peer exchange. FHWA will participate in the AHTD Transportation Research Committee, the Research Advisory Council, various research project subcommittees, and in the periodic peer exchange.

3.2.5 Air Quality Conformity

FHWA is responsible for initiating formal transportation conformity consultation and issuing conformity findings/ determinations on MPO Transportation Plans and Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP) in non-attainment or maintenance areas consistent with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/DOT regulations. Project level conformity is demonstrated by FHWA within the context of NEPA documents. Amendments to Transportation Plans and TIPs that affect regional transportation emissions require new conformity determinations and findings to be made by the MPO and the FHWA respectively. AHTD will ensure that a conformity-finding letter is obtained from FHWA before TIPs/projects can be approved or amended into the Arkansas Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

3.3 Right of Way (ROW) Program
3.3.1 Program Overview

In accordance with 23 CFR 710, AHTD has overall responsibility for the acquisition, management and disposal of real property on Federal-aid highway projects. This responsibility includes assurance that acquisitions and disposals are made in compliance with legal requirements of State and Federal laws and regulations. AHTD has prepared and maintains a Right of Way Operations Manual as established in Part 710. This manual, AHTD Right of Way Policy and Procedures Manual, describes functions and procedures for all phases of its Right of Way Program including appraisal and appraisal review, negotiation and eminent domain, property management and relocation assistance. The functions and procedures contained in the manual comply with 23 USC and 49 USC. The manual is updated and certified by AHTD every five years. These updates are coordinated with and approved by FHWA. The functions and procedures contained in the AHTD Right of Way Policy and Procedures Manual are used by AHTD for both Federal-aid funded and non-Federal-aid funded highway projects.

3.3.2 Right of Way Acquisition and Utility Adjustments – State Highway Projects

The acquisition of right of way and the coordination of utility adjustment activities are performed by AHTD in adherence to the AHTD Right of Way Policy and Procedures Manual as follows: Arterials – Project ROW containing an Arterial as any part of the project is acquired by AHTD. All necessary utility adjustment activities are coordinated by AHTD. Collectors and Locals – AHTD acquires right of way in cooperation with appropriate County Judge and/or City official. All necessary utility adjustment activities are coordinated by AHTD.

In order to expedite project schedule, other entities may participate in project costs.

3.3.3 Right of Way Acquisition and Utility Adjustments – Non-State Highway Projects

The acquisition of right of way and the coordination of utility adjustment activities are performed by the project Sponsor (appropriate County or City) or by AHTD upon request of the project Sponsor. These activities will follow the functions and procedures contained in the AHTD Right of Way Policy and Procedures Manual.

3.3.4 Project Authorization and Right of Way Certification

Prior to submittal to FHWA for authorization, AHTD will ensure that the project is included in the STIP and subsequently satisfies National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. AHTD will ensure that projects located in MPO areas are included in the applicable TIP.

AHTD provides Right of Way Certifications for all its projects. Federal oversight projects are certified to FHWA by the AHTD Right of Way Division Head. State oversight projects are certified by the Right of Way Division Head and concurred with by AHTD Assistant Chief Engineer for Design and the AHTD Deputy Director and Chief Engineer. Copies of the certifications of State oversight projects are provided to FHWA.

3.4 Environment Program
3.4.1 Program Overview

FHWA has a direct oversight role in assessing the impacts of actions affecting the environment in accordance with NEPA. FHWA and AHTD will work to ensure that all environmental factors are given full consideration along with engineering, social, and economic factors in program and project decision-making and are documented in the appropriate environmental documents that pertain to the projects in development.

Under environmental stewardship, AHTD is responsible for the environmental analysis for all Federal-aid transportation projects in the State of Arkansas, including oversight of consultants working on LPA projects and Congressional earmark projects using Federal-aid funding. Through direct involvement or through project or program reviews, FHWA assures that appropriate evaluations are conducted, FHWA approval actions are timely, and public involvement is a major element of AHTD's environmental process. With assistance from AHTD, FHWA will be responsible for leading consultation with Tribal Governments during the NEPA process to address tribal concerns regarding the preservation of environmental, scenic, cultural or historic values.

FHWA retains formal approval of all environmental documents; however, the approval of Tier I & II Categorical Exclusions (CE) has been delegated by agreement to AHTD and is the responsibility of AHTD to document and process accordingly. The Memorandum of Agreement concerning CEs between AHTD and FHWA is included as Appendix D to this Agreement.

The FHWA Arkansas Division Administrator has delegated to the FHWA Environmental Specialist review and approval authority for the following actions:

  • Section 4(f) evaluation
  • Environmental Assessment (EA) / Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI)
  • Re-Evaluations/Re-Assessments
  • Programmatic 4(f) Evaluation
  • Tier III CEs

The FHWA Arkansas Division Administrator retains approval authority of each Record of Decision (ROD), Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Final EIS, and Supplemental EIS.

3.5 Design Program
3.5.1 Program Overview

This program is based on the project approval and oversight requirements of Section 106 of Title 23. The purpose is to establish procedures for assuring that Federal-aid highway projects are properly designed as outlined in 23 CFR, in particular:

  • Part 625 – Design standards for highways
  • Part 626 – Pavement policy
  • Part 627 – Value engineering
  • Part 630 – Preconstruction procedures
  • Part 633 – Required contract provisions
  • Part 645 – Utilities
  • Part 646 – Railroads
  • Part 650 – Bridges, structures, and hydraulics
  • Part 652 – Pedestrian bicycle accommodations and projects
  • Part 655 – Traffic operations
  • Part 771 – Environmental impact and related procedures
  • Part 772 – Procedures for abatement of highway traffic noise and construction noise
3.5.2 Design Monitoring Program

The design monitoring program focuses on design practices, policies, and procedures to determine whether designs for Federal-aid highway projects comply with Federal requirements and achieve the best overall design for the anticipated traffic and use of a particular transportation facility.

FHWA is responsible for design monitoring, review and approvals of Federal oversight projects. AHTD is responsible for design monitoring, review and approvals for AHTD oversight projects, including those conducted by LPAs (See Section 3.16).

Upon mutual agreement, joint AHTD-FHWA Process Reviews may be conducted. In some cases, FHWA may conduct its own Process Review.

In addition to determining whether Federal-aid highway projects comply with Federal requirements, FHWA objectives under this program are to:

  • Maintain a close working relationship with AHTD design staff,

  • Ensure the integrity of the Interstate system through the review and approval of Interstate access point additions or modifications,

  • Promote Context Sensitive Design concepts and to ensure that environmental commitments are incorporated in construction contracts, and

  • Promote improved safety through appropriate use of design standards and guidelines.
3.5.3 Operating Environment

The review of projects are scheduled at the selection of the typical section, the selection of a corridor location (if applicable), the midpoint plan-in-hand review, and the PS&E review; in accordance with oversight responsibilities determined under Section 2. Design review activities will be documented by report, either prepared by FHWA, AHTD or AHTD consultant firm.

FHWA approves all freeway access modifications regardless of funding source, in accordance with the joint AHTD/FHWA Freeway Access Approval Policy.

3.5.4 AHTD Lead Divisions
  • The lead division responsible for coordinating the design of projects on the State Highway System, the design of projects on City Street Systems, and the design of traffic control-type projects is the Roadway Design Division.
  • The lead division responsible for coordinating the design of projects on County Road Systems is the State Aid Division.

The lead division responsible for coordination the development of safety projects (high hazard location and rail/highway) is the Planning and Research Division. Actual project design will be performed by the Roadway Design Division.

3.5.3 Operating Environment

The review of projects are scheduled at the selection of the typical section, the selection of a corridor location (if applicable), the midpoint plan-in-hand review, and the PS&E review; in accordance with oversight responsibilities determined under Section 2. Design review activities will be documented by report, either prepared by FHWA, AHTD or AHTD consultant firm.

FHWA approves all freeway access modifications regardless of funding source, in accordance with the joint AHTD/FHWA Freeway Access Approval Policy.

3.5.4 AHTD Lead Divisions
  1. The lead division responsible for coordinating the design of projects on the State Highway System, the design of projects on City Street Systems, and the design of traffic control-type projects is the Roadway Design Division.
  2. The lead division responsible for coordinating the design of projects on County Road Systems is the State Aid Division.

The lead division responsible for coordination the development of safety projects (high hazard location and rail/highway) is the Planning and Research Division. Actual project design will be performed by the Roadway Design Division

3.5.5 Design Standards

Design criteria will conform to current AHTD and AASHTO policies. Geometric design criteria for new construction and major reconstruction will be, at a minimum, in accordance with criteria established in AASHTO's A Policy on Design Standards-Interstate System or in the appropriate section of the current, adopted edition of the AASHTO publication, A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets as follows:

Arterials Arterial Standards Major
Collectors Collector Standards Minor
Collectors Collector Standards
Locals Local Standards

Exceptions to standards or procedures will be approved in writing by the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer. All geometric design exceptions for projects on the NHS, regardless of funding or oversight responsibility, will be submitted to FHWA for consideration and approval. Each AHTD office requesting an exception or waiver will keep a file of those approved actions. Such files will be available to FHWA for review if needed.

The project design speed will meet or exceed AASHTO minimum values for the functional classification of the facility being designed. On NHS routes, use of design speeds less than AASHTO values may be recommended by AHTD to FHWA for approval as required in the previous paragraph. On non-NHS routes, use of design speeds less than AASHTO values may be recommended by the Assistant Chief Engineer for Design and approved by the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer.

The geometric design of a facility will take into consideration and incorporate, as appropriate, findings and recommendations of the Congestion Management Systems developed by MPOs in the TMAs. The geometric design of a facility will also take in consideration the findings and recommendations made as part of a context sensitive approach during the public involvement process. In considering these findings and recommendations, AHTD will balance safety and environmental requirements as prescribed by Federal and State laws, regulations, policies and guidelines.

Structural design will be in accordance with the current edition of the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges or the LRFD Bridge Design Specifications and current AHTD specifications. All new bridges will be designed in accordance with LRFD Specifications with the exception of certain structures whose TS&L plans had been approved before October 1, 2007. Bridge layouts will be approved by the Assistant Chief Engineer for Design. FHWA will approve TS&L plans and final Bridge PS&E's for projects where FHWA retains its oversight responsibility and for all projects where a bridge crosses or impacts a railroad. FHWA approval by the Division Bridge Engineer will be indicated by a signed and dated “Structures Satisfactory” stamp.

On collectors and locals, shoulders may be surfaced across their entire width, regardless of the widths of bridge structures.

Hydraulic design criteria will be in accordance with the current AHTD Drainage Manual. Geotechnical design criteria for structures will be in accordance with the current LRFD Bridge Design Specifications.

For federally funded Resurfacing, Restoration, Rehabilitation (3R) and System Preservation type projects, AHTD will adhere to the AHTD Geometric Design Criteria for Non-freeway Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation projects, as approved by FHWA.

3.5.6 Work Zone Safety and Mobility in Design

AHTD will assist FHWA in assessing the work zone policies and procedures by completing a work zone self-assessment provided by FHWA, as required by Table 1b.

AHTD, with assistance from FHWA, will ensure that Federal-aid highway projects and maintenance activities on Federal-aid highways comply with NCHRP Report 350 criteria, the AASHTO/FHWA agreement and subsequent FHWA guidance.

AHTD and FHWA will ensure that all Federal-aid highway projects comply with the most current version of the Manual on Uniaffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and other applicable AHTD regulations and Federal guidelines.

Bicycle facilities will be developed in accordance with the current AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities and other applicable AHTD policies.

3.5.7 Design-Build Projects

As stated in Section 1503 of the SAFETEA-LU and in accordance with State law, AHTD or an LPA can issue a request for proposal (RFP), proceed with awards of design-build contracts or issue a notice to proceed prior to the completion of a NEPA process. However, AHTD shall receive concurrence from FHWA prior to carrying out any of these activities. For Federal oversight projects, AHTD is required to receive approval from FHWA prior to releasing the RFP document. FHWA approval of the RFP document carries the same significance as PS&E approval, and AHTD must submit a formal request for RFP approval.

Table 1a – Design Monitoring Process Actions and Review Timeframes
Work Activity Federal Oversight Projects Federal Oversight Projects AHTD Oversight Projects on the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects on the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects off the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects off the NHS
Work Activity AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION
Preliminary and Intermediate Design Plans
Design
Exceptions1
Prepare and submit to FHWA Review and comment
(10 Days)
Prepare and Comment None Prepare and Comment None
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 Days) Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 Days) Prepare and Approve None
Freeway Access Modification Requests:
General Concept Review, Engineering and Operations Analysis, Final Approval Value Engineering Annual Summary
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response or forward to FHWA HQ for approval (15 Days) Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response or forward to HQ for approval
(15 days)2
Not applicable Not applicable
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response and forward to HQ
(10 days)
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response and forward to HQ
(10 days)
Not Required None
Public Interest Finding (Special Products, Sole Source Specs, Proprietary Items, etc.) Bridge Preliminary Plan Review (TS&L,structure type, foundation review Consultant services contracts (planning, environment, surveying, row and design)
PS&E
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response
(10 days)
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 Days) Prepare and Approve None
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response
(10 days)
Prepare Provide Technical Assistance3 Prepare Provide Technical Assistance3
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 days) Prepare and Approve None Prepare and Approve None
Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval 14 days before ad Provide response
(10 Days)
Prepare and Approve None Prepare and Approve None
New/Revised Standard Drawings Minor Revision: Prepare and approve. Major Revision: Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Major Revision: Provide response4 (10 days) Minor Revision: Prepare and approve. Major Revision: Prepare and submit to FHWA for approve Major Revision: Provide response4 (10 days) Prepare None
Concurrence in Contract Award Prepare and submit to FHWA for concurrence Provide response (5 days) Approve None Approve None
Rejection of bids Prepare and submit to FHWA for concurrence Provide response (5 days) Approve None Approve None
3R Standards on the NHS Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 days) Prepare Provide response (10 days) Prepare None

1 FHWA approves design exceptions for all projects on the NHS, regardless of oversight responsibility. AHTD Deputy Director and Chief Engineer approves design exceptions on projects off the NHS.

2 FHWA Headquarters approves certain Interstate as per the AHTD/FHWA Freeway Access Approval Policy

3 FHWA approves all bridges on or over the Interstate regardless of funding source.

4FHWA approves new Standard Drawings for use on NHS projects. AHTD and FHWA will consult on a case-by-case basis on whether revisions are major or minor.

Table 1b – Work Zone Safety and Mobility in Design – Process Actions
WORK ACTIVITY AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION OUTCOME
Work Zone Safety and Mobility Process Review Implement new work zone policy and regulation. Conduct Field Review and Process Review every year on an alternating basis. Provides review report to FHWA by December 31s Participate and oversee the process for the annual reviews to ensure conformance with 23 CFR 630 Subpart J Final Rule. Assessment of work zone procedures
NCHRP 350 (NCHRP 350 Testing Criteria) Comply with NCHRP 350 and AASHTO/FHWA agreement Review AHTD actions and perform reviews Crashworthy devices
MUTCD (Traffic Control Devices on all public roads) Comply with MUTCD (in particular, the target compliance dates shown in the Introduction of the MUTCD). Review AHTD actions and perform review of ongoing MUTCD issues Uniformity of Traffic Control Devices
3.6 Pavement Design and Management
3.6.1 Program Overview

3.6.1.1 Pavement Design

23 CFR 626.3 requires pavements to be designed to accommodate current and predicted traffic needs in a safe, durable and cost effective manner. The regulations do not specify the procedures to be followed to meet this requirement. Each State Highway Agency is expected to use design procedures appropriate for their respective conditions. AHTD follows the design procedures that are outlined in AASHTO's Guide for Design of Pavement Structures.

3.6.1.2 Pavement Management

23 USC 303(a) directs the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations for State development, establishment and implementation of systems for managing highway pavements through the implementation of a Pavement Management System (PMS).

AHTD has an operational Pavement Management System used to assist in the selection of projects and maximize the effectiveness of the funding used in managing the highway pavements. This system is operated by the Pavement Management Section under the Planning and Research Division of AHTD. AHTD follows the procedures that are outlined in AASHTO's Pavement Management Guide.
3.6.2 AHTD Responsibilities

For projects on the NHS, pavement design procedures will be those approved by the FHWA in accordance with 23 CFR 626.

For projects not on the NHS, pavement design procedures will be in accordance with the currently adopted edition of the AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures or other procedures adopted by AHTD.

Minimum standards for low volume roads, overlays, and bituminous surface treatments may be recommended by the Engineer of Roadway Design and approved by the Assistant Chief Engineer for Design.

Pavement design standards on County projects will be in accordance with the AASHTO's Guide for Design of Pavement Structures except that the ultimate roadway section may be constructed in stages.

3.6.3 FHWA Responsibilities

FHWA's Pavement and Materials Engineer, through active participation in various task forces and meetings will ensure that pavement-related activities are appropriately coordinated among functional/administrative areas of FHWA. These pavement-related activities include new and rehabilitated pavement design and construction, pavement management, and research and technology transfer.

FHWA will review and provide comments on AHTD's pavement design/rehabilitation procedures, policy and guidelines on an ongoing basis. Additionally, by being a member of the individual task forces, teams, and committees, FHWA will have ongoing involvement in the development, update and implementation of pavement design procedures.
Table 2 – Pavement Design and Management Actions and Review Timeframe
WORK ACTIVITY AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION OUTCOME
Pavement Management System (PMS) Develop and implement changes Review and comment (10 days) PMS best practices are used and quality data collected and used
Selection of Preferred Rehabilitation Alternatives Prepare alternatives and make selection Review and comment (10 days) Document best practices for future reference
Conduct Joint Review of Pavement Design and Construction Prepare report Review and provide recommendations (10 days) Report
Pavement Design Guide, Policy and Procedures Develop and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 days) Roadway Design Guidelines/Manual
3.7 Preconstruction Contract Administration
3.7.1 Operating Environment

Upon receipt of plans in AHTD's Programs and Contracts Division, a plan review will be conducted and appropriate Supplemental Specifications dealing with DBE goals, EEO, wage rates, etc., will be assembled.

A detailed estimate based upon plan quantities will be prepared by the Roadway Design Division or the State Aid Division.

The project will be added to the list of potential projects for the upcoming letting. This list will be submitted to the Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning for review and approval and then to the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer for review of the projects and total estimates.

On Federal oversight projects, AHTD will submit a copy of the PS&E to FHWA for approval, which FHWA will review and provide a response to the request. These activities will be accomplished within the timeframe established in Table 1a (page 18).

3.7.2 Project Advertisement

Approximately two weeks prior to advertising project for a letting, a current status of projects proposed for the letting will be forwarded to the Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning for review. This status will reflect current information on all projects regarding environmental review, railroad coordination, right-of-way and utility handling, and any special conditions (see Appendix E).

Prior to transmitting information to the newspapers for the advertisement, an updated status of projects list for final authorization to advertise will be forwarded by the Engineer of the Programs and Contracts Division through the Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning to the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer for approval.

Upon approval of the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer and the approval of FHWA for Federal oversight projects, the Programs and Contracts Division will notify the Statewide newspaper(s) and trade journal(s) of the projects to be advertised; will post the advertisement on the AHTD's website; and will mail to all DBE firms and subscribing contractors the notices of upcoming projects.

The advertising period will normally be four weeks. When an advertising period of less than four weeks is justified, the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer may approve a shorter period. Federal-aid highway projects with less than three weeks of advertisement will be submitted for FHWA approval.

In unusual circumstances where all preconstruction activities will not be complete prior to advertising, the Deputy Director and Chief Engineer, with FHWA's concurrence, may authorize the advertisement of Federal-aid highway projects.

Project addenda will be made available to proposal holders within a reasonable amount of time prior to the opening of bids. Project advertisements will meet all non-Title 23 requirements.

3.7.3 Bidding

Bidding and non-bidding proposals will be issued in accordance with AHTD procedures which have been approved by FHWA.

Bids will be received and opened in accordance with all State and Federal requirements.

Bids will be reviewed by AHTD Programs and Contracts Division and recommended for consideration of award or rejection to the Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning.

3.7.4 Contract Award

The Deputy Director and Chief Engineer, the Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning, the Assistant Chief Engineer for Design, and other staff members will make a tentative award or rejection recommendation for each project. The Director of Highways and Transportation by authority of the Arkansas State Highway Commission will make the decision on contract awards based on this recommendation.

For Federal oversight projects, AHTD will seek FHWA concurrence in award prior to contract execution or in rejection of all bids. In seeking FHWA concurrence in award, AHTD will submit a copy of the bid tabulation, a bid analysis and AHTD's recommendation to award the Contract. In seeking FHWA concurrence in rejection of all bids, AHTD will submit a written request with supporting information.

Contractor notification, bonding, and contract execution will follow all Federal-aid guidelines.

3.7.5 Public Interest Findings

A request for a public interest finding of cost effectiveness (or a determination that an emergency exists) shall be furnished by AHTD for FHWA review and approval as required by 23 USC 112 when:

  • construction by some method other than competitive bidding is to be used,
  • AHTD seeks Federal-aid participation for State force account work, or
  • any Federal-aid participating proprietary products or State-furnished equipment or materials are specified in the plans or specifications.
3.8 Construction Program
3.8.1 Program Overview

AHTD will be responsible for adequately supervising and inspecting the construction of all Federal-aid highway projects to ensure that projects are completed in conformance with the approved plans and specifications.

FHWA will be responsible for ensuring that AHTD provides the supervision and inspection necessary on Federal-aid projects. To that effect, FHWA maintains a construction monitoring program. The primary objectives of the FHWA construction monitoring program are:

  • to evaluate AHTD's control of the projects and the quality and progress of work,
  • to maintain a close working relationship with AHTD construction staff,
  • to promote quality improvements,
  • to promote work zone safety and mobility,
  • to ensure that projects are completed in reasonably close conformance with the approved plans and specifications and any approved changes, and
  • to ensure compliance with environmental commitments.
3.8.2 FHWA Project and Program Administration

In order to achieve the objectives stated in the previous section, FHWA will use the following methods:

3.8.2.1 Program-Level Methods

Construction Process Review/Product Evaluation (PR/PE)

PR/PEs are comprehensive reviews of AHTD's procedures and controls on Federal-aid projects. The purpose of a PR/PE is to provide oversight of AHTD construction and materials management activities and to determine compliance with Federal-aid requirements on a statewide or district-wide basis. These reviews also provide the opportunity to identify highly successful practices as well as possible areas of improvement that may be incorporated in future Federal-aid highway projects.

3.8.2.2 Project-Level Methods

Inspection-In-Depth

Inspection-in-depth is a thorough on-site review to evaluate a specific contract item, combination of items, or major phase of a Federal-aid project. Inspections-in-depth may be accomplished on an individual project basis or on several projects with the findings summarized as a region-wide or statewide review.

Project Inspection

In Federal oversight projects, project inspections are on-site reviews to evaluate AHTD's construction management and inspection activities, the quality and progress of the work, compliance with appropriate environmental commitments and, if inspections allow, follow  up on findings from final inspections

Final inspection is a review to determine the extent to which AHTD has exercised its control to assure that the project has been completed in reasonably close conformance with the plans, specifications, and any authorized changes, including implementation of environmental commitments. This inspection will be performed in conjunction with AHTD personnel for all Federal oversight projects.

3.8.3 AHTD Project Administration

The AHTD Resident Engineer and his staff are responsible for ensuring compliance with the contract plans and specifications during construction of all Federal-aid highway projects and generally have daily contacts with the projects.

The AHTD District Engineer oversees the Resident Engineer's work and is also responsible for contract compliance. The District Engineer has routine contact with projects in his/her District, though not necessarily on a daily basis.

AHTD Staff Construction Engineers provide support to the Districts in ensuring that AHTD policies and procedures, including contract compliance, are followed. AHTD Staff Construction Engineers also act as liaisons between the Districts and Central Office Divisions.

All projects are audited by the Contract Estimates Section of AHTD's Construction Division to ensure that all measurements of pay quantities and subsequent payments are in accordance with the contract specifications. The Contract Estimates Section also ensures that other project documents, such as Materials Certifications, DBE forms, etc., are complete, correct and on file before a project is closed.

The Construction Inspection Report form shown in Appendix F1 is used by the AHTD District Engineer for interim and semi-final inspections and the Final Construction Inspection Report shown in Appendix F2 is used for the final inspection. The AHTD District Engineer is responsible for the inspection and acceptance of all State oversight projects. On Federal-aid highway projects on the NHS, emphasis will be given to performing interim inspections on the major phases of work.

The Final Construction Inspection Report is sent to the AHTD Construction Division for distribution. This Inspection Report, as well as the final estimate from the Contract Estimates Section, will serve as a notice to the AHTD Federal-aid Section of the Fiscal Services Division that a project is complete and ready to close.

AHTD's Internal Audit Section audits Resident Engineers' records and operations on selected construction projects to determine if the job specifications and Department policies have being followed.
Table 4 – Materials Quality Assurance Actions and Review Timeframe
Work Activity Federal Oversight Projects Federal Oversight Projects AHTD Oversight Projects on the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects on the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects off the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects off the NHS
Work Activity AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION
Supplemental Agreements Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (5 days) Prepare and approve None Prepare and approve None
Standard Specifications and Drawings Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 days) Prepare and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days) Prepare and approve None
Buy America Waivers Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Provide response (10 days) Prepare and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days) Prepare and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days)
Cancellation, Termination, or Default of Construction Contracts Prepare and submit to FHWA for approval Review and provide response (5 days) Prepare and submit to FHWA Review and provide response (5 days) Prepare and submit to FHWA Review and provide response (5 days)
Executed Contract Approve and submit to FHWA Acknowledge receipt and file (2 days) Approve None Approve None
Change Orders and Time Extensions Prepare and submit to FHWA Review and provide response(5 days) Prepare and approve None Prepare and approve None
FHWA Initial Construction Inspections Participate and provide information as necessary Conduct and prepare report (10 days) None None None None
FHWA Intermediate and In-Depth Construction Inspection Participate and provide information as necessary Conduct and prepare report (10 days) None None None None
Final Construction Inspection Conduct and prepare report Conduct and prepare report (10 days) Conduct and prepare report None Conduct and prepare report None
State Construction Engineer's Certificate of Final Acceptance Prepare, approve, and submit to FHWA Accept and place in project file Prepare and approve Accept and place in project file Prepare and approve None
Materials Certification Prepare and submit to FHWA Accept and place in project file Prepare and Approve None None None
Claims Settlements Coordinate with the AG's office and FHWA, submit to FHWA Review and approve (10 days) Coordinate with the AG's office None Coordinate with the AG's office None
3.9 Materials Quality Assurance Monitoring
3.9.1 Program Overview

FHWA monitoring of AHTD Quality Assurance (QA) Program is structured around 23 CFR 637. The overall purpose of the monitoring program is to ensure the quality of materials incorporated into Federal-aid highway projects on the National Highway System.

For Federal-aid highway projects on the NHS, the primary objectives of the monitoring program are:

  • Maintain a close working relationship with AHTD's Materials and Construction staff,
  • Promote improvements when new approaches or technologies are developed and where deficiencies are identified,
  • Ensure that the materials incorporated in the construction work, and the construction operations controlled by sampling and testing are in conformity with the approved plans, specifications, and special provisions, and the AHTD Materials and Construction Manuals,
  • Provide oversight of construction materials and compliance with Federal requirements on a statewide basis, and
  • Ensure there is adequate and qualified AHTD staff to maintain AHTD Quality Assurance and Independent Assurance (IA) programs.
3.9.2 Operating Environment

FHWA will monitor AHTD's QA Program for materials used in the construction of Federal-aid highway projects located on the NHS. Details of oversight provided for monitoring AHTD's Materials QA Program for construction are included in the AHTD Materials Manual. For Federal-aid highway projects not on the NHS, AHTD will monitor the QA Program for construction except that AHTD does not need to submit a materials certification to FHWA.

3.9.3 FHWA Oversight Activities

FHWA will review and approve AHTD's Materials QA Program as included in AHTD's Materials Manual on an on-going basis. The AHTD Materials QA Program includes the Acceptance Program, the IA Program, the Materials Certification of projects located on the NHS, the AASHTO Accreditation Inspection Reports, the Qualified Laboratory Program and the Qualified Sampling and Testing Personnel Program. Additionally. As a member of the individual task forces/teams/committees, FHWA will have an ongoing involvement in the development and implementation of the AHTD Materials QA Program.

In addition, FHWA will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the AHTD Materials QA Program through joint AHTD/FHWA process reviews. Individual process reviews will be identified in FHWA's Annual Strategic Plan. The FHWA's Pavement and Materials Engineer will accompany FHWA area engineers for project inspections of Federal oversight projects.

Table 2 – Pavement Design and Management Actions and Review Timeframe
  Work Activity Federal Oversight Projects AHTD Oversight Projects on the NHS AHTD Oversight Projects on the NHS
Work Activity AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION AHTD ACTION FHWA ACTION
QA Program Materials Test Methods and Updates, Materials QA Manual, Sampling and Testing Frequency Guide Qualified Technician and Laboratory Programs Prepare (ongoing) and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days) Prepare and maintain (optional) None
Develop/ implement and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days) Prepare and maintain (optional) None
AASHTO Accreditation Inspection Reports Maintain accreditation, submit inspection report Provide response (10 days) Prepare and maintain (optional) None
Independent Assurance Program Develop/ implement and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days) None None
Public Interest Findings (PIF) with respect to Materials Prepare and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days) Prepare and submit to FHWA Provide response (10 days)
Qualified Product List (QPL) (if applicable) Prepare and maintain, provide copy to FHWA None Prepare and maintain (optional) None

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Contact

Peter Kleskovic
Office of Program Administration
202-366-1564
E-mail Peter

 
 
Updated: 04/07/2011

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FHWA
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration