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Stewardship and Oversight Plan

The Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration Tennessee Division

September 28, 2006

Table of Contents

Letter of Agreement

Purpose and Scope:

Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 106 (c), the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) agree to follow the procedures set forth in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan, dated September 28, 2006, which is attached to and made part of this agreement, to carry out their respective oversight responsibilities in the delivery of Federal-aid projects. This Letter of Agreement supersedes all past agreements, including the Project Oversight Agreement signed September 8, 1998, and shall become effective on the date listed below and remain in effect until superseded.

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) requires that FHWA and the State enter into an agreement showing the extent of the State's assumption of the Transportation Secretary's responsibilities. ISTEA and TEA-21 altered the FHWA role from full project oversight and approval of every project or activity funded with FHWA 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 the TDOT accept these assumed responsibilities and provide greater program accountability due to less 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 that provides a road map to effectively and efficiently execute the Federal-aid program relating to programs/project delivery to include financial integrity.

By signing this agreement, the TDOT and the FHWA agree to adhere to the provisions and responsibilities included herein. The TDOT and the FHWA further agree to carry out their responsibilities in a true spirit of cooperation. The FHWA and the TDOT will collaborate prior to the beginning of each Federal Fiscal Year in the development of FHWA's annual work plan which, when implemented, this work plan will accomplish FHWA's strategic and oversight responsibilities. The FHWA and the TDOT will also commit the resources needed to effectively implement the work plan action items.

TDOT agrees that where it assumes FHWA's Title 23 oversight role and approval responsibilities, it is responsible for ensuring that projects are developed and constructed in full compliance with Federal requirements, and that necessary corrective action is taken when actions and approvals are found to be in non-compliance with applicable Federal requirements. The FHWA is available for consultation in such matters or may unilaterally become involved in determining corrective action.

TDOT further understands that nothing contained herein shall relieve it from ultimate accountability for compliance with Federal laws and regulations with respect to the expenditure of Federal-aid highway funds in the State of Tennessee, including those funds passed through to local governments. This agreement does not preclude the FHWA access to and review of Federal-aid projects at any time, and does not replace the provisions of Title 23 United States Code (U.S.C.).

TDOT and FHWA Responsibilities:

This agreement between the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sets forth the respective roles and responsibilities of each party in the administration and oversight of Federal-aid highway projects and programs in the State of Tennessee. As a condition to accepting Federal-aid highway funds, TDOT agrees to follow all applicable project and program requirements.

FHWA Responsibilities:

The FHWA is ultimately accountable for all Federal-aid highway projects. The FHWA Tennessee Division will fulfill its stewardship role at a project level as follows:

  • Full Oversight Projects - The FHWA will retain full oversight for projects on the Interstate System with an estimated construction cost of greater than $1 million, excluding 3R projects. The FHWA will also retain full oversight for projects funded through the Appalachian Development Highway Program on Appalachian Corridors. The FHWA may elect to retain full oversight on any Federal-aid highway project. The FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of all Title 23 aspects of these projects including location and design, right-of-way and construction phases. On full oversight projects, the FHWA Division Office personnel will review and approve project designs, approve Plans, Specifications and Estimates, concur in award, approve changes in contract (change orders, supplemental agreements, time extensions, claims, etc.) and conduct project inspections. Other projects that may be determined to be full oversight on a case-by-case basis are projects using unique contract procedures such as Design/Build projects, construction of unusual bridges or structures, or projects of national significance.
  • Involvement on Other Projects - The FHWA may become involved with any Federal-aid project, including those for which TDOT has assumed oversight responsibility. FHWA oversight of non full-oversight projects will be through program level activities, such as Process Review/Program Evaluation (PR/PE), Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), etc. Additionally TDOT may request FHWA involvement. The extent of FHWA involvement will be defined by TDOT's request. The FHWA will provide engineering support for project development activities and technical assistance on major unique and/or unusual structures and on non-federally funded Interstate reconstruction projects. On major unique and/or unusual structures, the FHWA will participate in design activities including a review of final plans. On non-federally funded Interstate reconstruction projects, TDOT will request FHWA to approve final plans. FHWA will also provide engineering support for project development and/or construction activities on other projects when requested by TDOT.
  • Technical Assistance - The FHWA Division Office is prepared to provide technical assistance to TDOT or local transportation agencies on any aspect of an eligible Title 23 project including intermodal transportation projects. Technical assistance activities will be decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with TDOT, other partners and the division office. The FHWA Division Office will continue to focus their time and effort on improving processes and procedures, in cooperation with the State DOT.
  • Non-Title 23 Responsibility - FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of applicable non-Title 23 requirements. Such oversight will be conducted through a combination of both project and program level activities. Applicable non-Title 23 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

The FHWA will manage and provide oversight of Tennessee's Federal-Aid programs in various ways. The methods used will be:

  • Routine day-to-day program actions and other interaction.
  • TDOT from time to time will ask for Division participation on TDOT task forces, teams, implementation committees, reviews, attendance at TDOT meetings, etc.
  • PR/PE reviews and CPI activities on program areas as needed and determined in accordance with the Division's risk assessment process and/or other high importance program areas. PR/PE reviews and CPI activities will be utilized as the primary methods of program oversight. PR/PE reviews comprise the process of comprehensively reviewing and evaluating State and or local agency policies, procedures, practices and controls for the development and implementation of Federal-aid projects and programs. CPI activities are characterized by a philosophy of improvement rather than adherence. CPI practice is dedicated to advancing the effectiveness and capability of work process focusing on process rather than people.
  • The division office Financial Integrity Review and Evaluation (FIRE) Program to assess the financial aspects of programs and projects.

TDOT Responsibilities:

TDOT hereby advises FHWA that it wishes to assume project oversight responsibilities in accordance with the following:

  • Interstate Projects - TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of the following projects on the Interstate System: (1) all resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (3R) projects and (2) all other projects with an estimated construction cost of less than $1 million. All Interstate projects must comply with all Title 23 U.S.C. and non-Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Other NHS Projects (not on the Interstate System) - For NHS projects not on the Interstate System, TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects on the NHS. All NHS projects must comply with all Title 23 U.S.C. and non-Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Non-NHS Projects - TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects not on the NHS. Non-NHS projects are required to be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with State law, regulations, directives, safety standards, design standards, and construction standards, in lieu of many Title 23 U.S.C. requirements. Title 23 U.S.C. requirements that are applicable to all Federal-aid projects include, but are not limited to, transportation planning, procurement of professional services, Davis-Bacon wage rates, advertising for bids, award of contracts, use of convict produced materials, Buy America Act provisions and other requirements. All non-NHS projects must also comply with all non-Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Local Agency Projects - TDOT is responsible for assuring that all Federal-aid projects administered by local agencies comply with all applicable Federal and State requirements. TDOT is not relieved of this responsibility even though the project may be delegated to the local agency. In accordance with 23 CFR 1.11 and 635.105, TDOT is responsible for ensuring that the local agency is qualified and equipped to administer the project and has processes in place to ensure compliance with Federal requirements.

For those projects that TDOT has agreed to assume oversight responsibility, TDOT will follow all applicable FHWA policies, regulations, Title 23, and non-Title 23 requirements as if FHWA were involved.

Implementation of Oversight Agreement:

FHWA and TDOT enter into this agreement to conduct project oversight activities in accordance with the above stipulated agreement elements and parameters along with guidance documented in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan that was jointly agreed upon to fulfill the federal program requirements.

The Stewardship and Oversight Plan outlines responsibilities and accountability for FHWA and TDOT. The purpose of the Plan is to clarify actions, prevent misinterpretations, and avoid time delays. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan is intended to be a living document that can be modified when needed to incorporate additional legislation, additional processes, or other changes to improve program and project delivery in the State of Tennessee. TDOT and FHWA agree to use a broad set of performance and compliance indicators, as identified in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan, to track performance trends and to implement countermeasures/actions when the data is not moving in the desired target direction. Performance and compliance indicators will be reported to the FHWA on the times specified in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan. At a minimum, the Stewardship and Oversight Plan will be reviewed annually by TDOT and FHWA on or around the second week of August and a summary of the status of all performance and compliance indicators will be reported at this time.

The Division Administrator of FHWA Tennessee Division or the Commissioner of TDOT may initiate amendments to this Agreement and/or changes to the Stewardship and Oversight Plan should essential modifications become apparent to either party.

Original Signed 9-28-06
Bobby W. Blackmon
Division Administrator
Federal Highway Administration

Original Signed 9-28-06
Gerald F. Nicely
Commissioner
Tennessee Department of Transportation

Acronyms

3RResurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation
AASHTOAmerican Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
CEIConstruction Engineering and Inspection
CEQCouncil on Environmental Quality
CFRCode of Federal Regulations
CMAQCongestion Mitigation and Air Quality
CPIContinuous Process Improvement
DBEDisadvantaged Business Enterprise
EAEnvironmental Assessment
EEOEqual Employment Opportunity
EISEnvironmental Impact Statement
FHWAFederal Highway Administration
FIREFinancial Integrity Review and Evaluation
FMCSAFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
FONSIFinding of No Significant Impact
FTAFederal Transit Administration
HPRHighway Planning and Research
HPMSHighway Performance Monitoring System
HSIPHighway Safety Improvement Program
HSPHighway Safety Program
ISTEAIntermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
ITS Intelligent Transportation Systems
MBEMinority Business Enterprise
MPOMetropolitan Planning Organization
NBISNational Bridge Inspection Standards
NEPANational Environmental Policy Act
NHSNational Highway System
NHSDNational Highway System Designation Act of 1995
NHTSANational Highway Traffic Safety Administration
PEPreliminary Engineering
PR/PEProcess Review/Program Evaluation
PS&EPlans, Specifications, and Estimate
RODRecord of Decision
ROWRight-of-Way
SAFETEA-LUSafe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users
SOPStandard Operating Procedure
STIPState Transportation Improvement Program
STPSurface Transportation Program
TDOTTennessee Department of Transportation
TEA-21Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
TIP Transportation Improvement Program
USCUnited States Code

Executive Summary

STEWARDSHIP AND OVERSIGHT
LETTER OF AGREEMENT
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND
THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION TENNESSEE DIVISION

Purpose and Scope:

Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 106 (c), the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) agree to follow the procedures set forth in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan, dated September 28, 2006, which is attached to and made part of this agreement, to carry out their respective oversight responsibilities in the delivery of Federal–aid projects. This Letter of Agreement supersedes all past agreements, including the Project Oversight Agreement signed September 8, 1998, and shall become effective on the date listed below and remain in effect until superseded.

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) requires that FHWA and the State enter into an agreement showing the extent of the State’s assumption of the Transportation Secretary’s responsibilities. ISTEA and TEA–21 altered the FHWA role from full project oversight and approval of every project or activity funded with FHWA 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 the TDOT accept these assumed responsibilities and provide greater program accountability due to less 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 that provides a road map to effectively and efficiently execute the Federal–aid program relating to programs/project delivery to include financial integrity.

By signing this agreement, the TDOT and the FHWA agree to adhere to the provisions and responsibilities included herein. The TDOT and the FHWA further agree to carry out their responsibilities in a true spirit of cooperation. The FHWA and the TDOT will collaborate prior to the beginning of each Federal Fiscal Year in the development of FHWA’s annual work plan which, when implemented, this work plan will accomplish FHWA’s strategic and oversight responsibilities. The FHWA and the TDOT will also commit the resources needed to effectively implement the work plan action items.

TDOT agrees that where it assumes FHWA’s Title 23 oversight role and approval responsibilities, it is responsible for ensuring that projects are developed and constructed in full compliance with Federal requirements, and that necessary corrective action is taken when actions and approvals are found to be in non–compliance with applicable Federal requirements. The FHWA is available for consultation in such matters or may unilaterally become involved in determining corrective action.

TDOT further understands that nothing contained herein shall relieve it from ultimate accountability for compliance with Federal laws and regulations with respect to the expenditure of Federal–aid highway funds in the State of Tennessee, including those funds passed through to local governments. This agreement does not preclude the FHWA access to and review of Federal–aid projects at any time, and does not replace the provisions of Title 23 United States Code (U.S.C.).

TDOT and FHWA Responsibilities:

This agreement between the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sets forth the respective roles and responsibilities of each party in the administration and oversight of Federal–aid highway projects and programs in the State of Tennessee. As a condition to accepting Federal–aid highway funds, TDOT agrees to follow all applicable project and program requirements.

FHWA Responsibilities:

The FHWA is ultimately accountable for all Federal–aid highway projects. The FHWA Tennessee Division will fulfill its stewardship role at a project level as follows:

  • Full Oversight Projects — The FHWA will retain full oversight for projects on the Interstate System with an estimated construction cost of greater than $1 million, excluding 3R projects. The FHWA will also retain full oversight for projects funded through the Appalachian Development Highway Program on Appalachian Corridors. The FHWA may elect to retain full oversight on any Federal–aid highway project. The FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of all Title 23 aspects of these projects including location and design, right–of–way and construction phases. On full oversight projects, the FHWA Division Office personnel will review and approve project designs, approve Plans, Specifications and Estimates, concur in award, approve changes in contract (change orders, supplemental agreements, time extensions, claims, etc.) and conduct project inspections. Other projects that may be determined to be full oversight on a case–by–case basis are projects using unique contract procedures such as Design/Build projects, construction of unusual bridges or structures, or projects of national significance.
  • Involvement on Other Projects — The FHWA may become involved with any Federal–aid project, including those for which TDOT has assumed oversight responsibility. FHWA oversight of non full–oversight projects will be through program level activities, such as Process Review/Program Evaluation (PR/PE), Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), etc. Additionally TDOT may request FHWA involvement. The extent of FHWA involvement will be defined by TDOT’s request. The FHWA will provide engineering support for project development activities and technical assistance on major unique and/or unusual structures and on non–federally funded Interstate reconstruction projects. On major unique and/or unusual structures, the FHWA will participate in design activities including a review of final plans. On non–federally funded Interstate reconstruction projects, TDOT will request FHWA to approve final plans. FHWA will also provide engineering support for project development and/or construction activities on other projects when requested by TDOT.
  • Technical Assistance — The FHWA Division Office is prepared to provide technical assistance to TDOT or local transportation agencies on any aspect of an eligible Title 23 project including intermodal transportation projects. Technical assistance activities will be decided on a case–by–case basis in consultation with TDOT, other partners and the division office. The FHWA Division Office will continue to focus their time and effort on improving processes and procedures, in cooperation with the State DOT.
  • Non–Title 23 Responsibility — FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of applicable non–Title 23 requirements. Such oversight will be conducted through a combination of both project and program level activities. Applicable non–Title 23 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

The FHWA will manage and provide oversight of Tennessee’s Federal–Aid programs in various ways. The methods used will be:

  • Routine day–to–day program actions and other interaction.
  • TDOT from time to time will ask for Division participation on TDOT task forces, teams, implementation committees, reviews, attendance at TDOT meetings, etc.
  • PR/PE reviews and CPI activities on program areas as needed and determined in accordance with the Division’s risk assessment process and/or other high importance program areas. PR/PE reviews and CPI activities will be utilized as the primary methods of program oversight. PR/PE reviews comprise the process of comprehensively reviewing and evaluating State and or local agency policies, procedures, practices and controls for the development and implementation of Federal–aid projects and programs. CPI activities are characterized by a philosophy of improvement rather than adherence. CPI practice is dedicated to advancing the effectiveness and capability of work process focusing on process rather than people.
  • The division office Financial Integrity Review and Evaluation (FIRE) Program to assess the financial aspects of programs and projects.

TDOT Responsibilities:

TDOT hereby advises FHWA that it wishes to assume project oversight responsibilities in accordance with the following:

  • Interstate Projects — TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right–of–way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of the following projects on the Interstate System: (1) all resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (3R) projects and (2) all other projects with an estimated construction cost of less than $1 million. All Interstate projects must comply with all Title 23 U.S.C. and non–Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Other NHS Projects (not on the Interstate System) — For NHS projects not on the Interstate System, TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right–of–way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects on the NHS. All NHS projects must comply with all Title 23 U.S.C. and non–Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Non–NHS Projects — TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right–of–way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects not on the NHS. Non–NHS projects are required to be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with State law, regulations, directives, safety standards, design standards, and construction standards, in lieu of many Title 23 U.S.C. requirements. Title 23 U.S.C. requirements that are applicable to all Federal–aid projects include, but are not limited to, transportation planning, procurement of professional services, Davis–Bacon wage rates, advertising for bids, award of contracts, use of convict produced materials, Buy America Act provisions and other requirements. All non–NHS projects must also comply with all non–Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Local Agency Projects — TDOT is responsible for assuring that all Federal–aid projects administered by local agencies comply with all applicable Federal and State requirements. TDOT is not relieved of this responsibility even though the project may be delegated to the local agency. In accordance with 23 CFR 1.11 and 635.105, TDOT is responsible for ensuring that the local agency is qualified and equipped to administer the project and has processes in place to ensure compliance with Federal requirements.

For those projects that TDOT has agreed to assume oversight responsibility, TDOT will follow all applicable FHWA policies, regulations, Title 23, and non–Title 23 requirements as if FHWA were involved.

Implementation of Oversight Agreement:

FHWA and TDOT enter into this agreement to conduct project oversight activities in accordance with the above stipulated agreement elements and parameters along with guidance documented in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan that was jointly agreed upon to fulfill the federal program requirements.

The Stewardship and Oversight Plan outlines responsibilities and accountability for FHWA and TDOT. The purpose of the Plan is to clarify actions, prevent misinterpretations, and avoid time delays. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan is intended to be a living document that can be modified when needed to incorporate additional legislation, additional processes, or other changes to improve program and project delivery in the State of Tennessee. TDOT and FHWA agree to use a broad set of performance and compliance indicators, as identified in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan, to track performance trends and to implement countermeasures/actions when the data is not moving in the desired target direction. Performance and compliance indicators will be reported to the FHWA on the times specified in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan. At a minimum, the Stewardship and Oversight Plan will be reviewed annually by TDOT and FHWA on or around the second week of August and a summary of the status of all performance and compliance indicators will be reported at this time.

The Division Administrator of FHWA Tennessee Division or the Commissioner of TDOT may initiate amendments to this Agreement and/or changes to the Stewardship and Oversight Plan should essential modifications become apparent to either party.

Original Signed 9–28–06
Bobby W. Blackmon
Division Administrator
Federal Highway Administration
Original Signed 9–28–06
Gerald F. Nicely
Commissioner
Tennessee Department of Transportation
     
Date   Date

Section 1 - Introduction

1.1 Overview

This Stewardship and Oversight Plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of both FHWA and TDOT in the accomplishment of oversight and administration of Federal-aid Highway Projects and Programs. The purpose of the Plan is to provide guidance in clarifying actions, preventing misinterpretations, and avoiding time delays. The Stewardship and Oversight Plan is intended to be a living document that can be modified when needed to incorporate additional legislation, additional processes, or other changes to improve program and project delivery in the State of Tennessee. TDOT and FHWA agree to use a broad set of performance and compliance indicators, as identified in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan, to track performance trends and to implement countermeasures/actions when the data is not moving in the desired target direction. Performance and compliance indicators will be reported to the FHWA on the times specified in the Stewardship and Oversight Plan for each program area. At a minimum, the Stewardship and Oversight Plan will be reviewed annually by TDOT and FHWA on or around the second week of August and a summary of the status of all performance and compliance indicators will be reported at this time. This Stewardship and Oversight Plan serves as a continuing plan of project and program oversight responsibilities for each agency covering the following functional areas:

Project Oversight

  • Environmental Process
  • Right-of-Way (ROW) Process
  • Design Monitoring Process
  • Programming Process and Project Authorization/Agreement Process
  • Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Process
  • Construction Monitoring Process

Program Oversight

  • Bridge Program
  • Civil Rights Program
  • Financial Management Program
  • Maintenance Monitoring Program
  • Materials Quality and Acceptance Program
  • Pavement Management and Design Program
  • Planning Program
  • Research, Development, and Technology Transfer Program
  • Safety Program
  • Miscellaneous Programs and Activities

In general, FHWA will use Process Review/Product Evaluation (PR/PE) techniques to assess the capability and capacity of the TDOT in those areas where the TDOT has assumed FHWA's responsibilities. FHWA will also use these techniques to monitor and evaluate TDOT's fulfillment of the responsibilities outlined in this Plan. In cases where project level activity is still an integral part of FHWA's stewardship and oversight efforts, early involvement in project decisions combined with an assessment of the quality of the products produced during the project development process will be the primary focus.

In addition, the Plan includes stewardship responsibilities for various programs with identified actions by each agency. FHWA will use Program Activities as defined later in this Plan to monitor and evaluate program performance and effectiveness. This Plan incorporates the concept of mutual service standards that include agreed upon formats, procedures and targeted timeframes for TDOT and FHWA actions, including submissions, comments and approvals. The Plan also takes into account the FHWA and TDOT resources and capabilities, and the federal requirements where FHWA has a mandated role in the oversight process. This plan forms the principal basis for monitoring and evaluating the quality of the TDOT's Federal-aid program, and the continued disbursement of federal funds based upon TDOT policies, practices, and staffing resources.

While TDOT can assume the responsibility for FHWA in many Title 23 U.S.C. actions, some Title 23 U.S.C. requirements remain FHWA responsibilities. These program elements include, but are not limited to (Refer to section Three for specific Actions):

  • All Federal responsibilities for planning and programming oversight specified in 23 USC 134 and 135.
  • Waivers to Buy America requirements.
  • Environmental approvals.
  • Civil Rights program approvals.
  • Utility Accommodations Policy
  • Special Experimental Project (SEP) methods (FHWA HQ approval required for experimental contracting/project delivery methods)
  • Federal air quality conformity determinations required by the Clean Air Act.
  • Obligation of funds.
  • Addition of access points on the Interstate System.
  • Use of Interstate airspace for non-highway-related purposes.
  • Hardship acquisition and protective buying.
  • Modifications to project agreements.
  • Final vouchers.

FHWA will annually perform risk assessments of various program areas for the purpose of prioritizing its program level oversight activities for the coming year. The objective of these risk assessments is to focus the limited resources of the FHWA Division Office on those activities that represent the greatest risk to FHWA in fulfilling its stewardship responsibilities. A portion of the risk assessments will involve an evaluation of TDOT's internal controls, operating procedures, and staffing. By this process, it is expected that the greatest possible confidence level will be achieved for the resources committed. TDOT will be invited to participate in these risk assessments; however, FHWA will make all final determinations of program areas for review.

1.2 Delegation of Authority to Local Agencies

The TDOT may, pursuant to 23CFR 1.11 and 635.105, delegate certain Federal-aid project authorities to a well-qualified and suitably equipped local public agency. The TDOT is responsible for ensuring that appropriate procedures and guidelines are in place to facilitate the compliance of local public agency administered Federal-aid projects. FHWA will review and approve these practices and procedures for Federal-aid projects.

The TDOT will determine if the local agency is well qualified and adequately staffed to administer projects before delegation of any activities. The TDOT will review the local agency's ability to administer Federal-aid projects or specific activities on a case-by-case basis, and the extent of delegation will be dependent on their current staffing level and experience, and past performance. An Agency Agreement will be executed between TDOT and the local agency to outline the responsibilities of both TDOT and the local agency.

The TDOT retains responsibility under Federal law and regulations for all delegated activities. The TDOT will have written procedures established for the local agency that provide the necessary processes, approvals, oversight and review that ensures the delegated projects receive adequate supervision and inspection, and are completed in conformance with approved plans and specifications and applicable federal requirements. While TDOT will offer any training, advice, or other assistance as may be needed by a local agency to aid it in successfully completing its Federal-aid project, it is understood that the project is controlled by the local agency. As such, if the local agency is not following prescribed requirements, TDOT's recourse would be to remove Federal-aid funds from the project.

The following program elements will not be delegated to local agencies:

  • NEPA approval
  • Sole Source Approval
  • Approval of Force Accounts
  • Design Exception approval
  • Approval of Right of Way certification
  • Approval of Engineering Plans
  • Approval of DBE Goals
  • Approval and Audit of Labor compliance
  • Final Inspection
  • Project Acceptance

1.3 Definitions

For the purposes of this agreement, the following definitions apply:

3R Project: A project intended to extend the service life of existing highways, bridges, and related appurtenances; and/or restore safe, efficient travel on an existing facility. 3R(resurfacing, rehabilitation, and restoration) work includes the placement of additional surface material and other work necessary to return an existing roadway to a condition of structural or functional adequacy. This may include improving geometric features such as flattening curves, improving sight distance and minor roadway and/or shoulder widening. 3R projects are typically constructed within existing right-of-way, or require only minor acquisitions necessary to enhance safety.

Construction Cost: The cost of a specific project based on the engineer's estimate amount. The construction cost does not include: construction engineering and inspection, preliminary engineering, right-of-way, utility adjustments.

Force Account: The direct performance of highway construction work by a State transportation department, a county, a railroad, a public utility company by use of labor, equipment, materials, and supplies furnished by them and used under their direct control. 23 CFR 635.203(c)

Preventive Maintenance: The lowest level of 3R work. In general, any work that 1) prevents the intrusion of water into the pavement or pavement base (crack or joint sealing, underdrains, restoration of drainage systems); 2) prevents deterioration of bridges including painting, scour protection, deck repair, deck drain cleaning, and seismic retrofit; 3) restores pavement rideability by profiling, milling, overlaying, or replacing a portion of the pavement structure.

Section 2 – Stewardship and Oversight of Federal-Aid Projects

The following Stewardship and Oversight responsibilities are as stated in the TDOT and FHWA Stewardship and Oversight Letter of Agreement. The agreement between the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sets forth the respective roles and responsibilities of each party in the administration and oversight of Federal-aid Highway Projects in the State of Tennessee. As a condition to accepting Federal-aid highway funds, TDOT agrees to follow all applicable project and program requirements.

2.1 FHWA Responsibilities

The FHWA is ultimately accountable for all Federal-aid highway projects. The FHWA Tennessee Division will fulfill its stewardship role at a project level as follows:

  • Full Oversight Projects – The FHWA will retain full oversight for projects on the Interstate System with an estimated construction cost of greater than $1 million, excluding 3R projects. The FHWA will also retain full oversight for projects funded through the Appalachian Development Highway Program on Appalachian Corridors. The FHWA may elect to retain full oversight on any Federal-aid highway project. The FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of all Title 23 aspects of these projects including location and design, right-of-way and construction phases. On full oversight projects, the FHWA Division Office personnel will review and approve project designs, approve Plans, Specifications and Estimates, concur in award, approve changes in contract (change orders, supplemental agreements, time extensions, claims, etc.) and conduct project inspections. Other projects that may be determined to be full oversight on a case-by-case basis are projects using unique contract procedures such as Design/Build projects, construction of unusual bridges or structures, or projects of national significance.
  • Involvement on Other Projects – The FHWA may become involved with any Federal-aid project, including those for which TDOT has assumed oversight responsibility. FHWA oversight of non full-oversight projects will be through program level activities, such as Process Review/Program Evaluation (PR/PE), Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), etc. Additionally TDOT may request FHWA involvement. The extent of FHWA involvement will be defined by TDOT's request. The FHWA will provide engineering support for project development activities and technical assistance on major unique and/or unusual structures and on non-federally funded Interstate reconstruction projects. On major unique and/or unusual structures, the FHWA will participate in design activities including a review of final plans. On non-federally funded Interstate reconstruction projects, TDOT will request FHWA to approve final plans. FHWA will also provide engineering support for project development and/or construction activities on other projects when requested by TDOT.
  • Technical Assistance – The FHWA Division Office is prepared to provide technical assistance to TDOT or local transportation agencies on any aspect of an eligible Title 23 project including intermodal transportation projects. Technical assistance activities will be decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with TDOT, other partners and the division office. The FHWA Division Office will continue to focus their time and effort on improving processes and procedures, in cooperation with the State DOT.
  • Non-Title 23 Responsibility – FHWA will continue to be responsible for the oversight of applicable non-Title 23 requirements. Such oversight will be conducted through a combination of both project and program level activities. Applicable non-Title 23 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

The FHWA will manage and provide oversight of Tennessee's Federal-Aid programs in various ways. The methods used will be:

  • Routine day-to-day program actions and other interaction.
  • TDOT from time to time will ask for Division participation on TDOT task forces, teams, implementation committees, reviews, attendance at TDOT meetings, etc.
  • PR/PE reviews and CPI activities on program areas as needed and determined in accordance with the Division's risk assessment process and/or other high importance program areas. PR/PE reviews and CPI activities will be utilized as the primary methods of program oversight. PR/PE reviews comprise the process of comprehensively reviewing and evaluating State and or local agency policies, procedures, practices and controls for the development and implementation of Federal-aid projects and programs. CPI activities are characterized by a philosophy of improvement rather than adherence. CPI practice is dedicated to advancing the effectiveness and capability of work process focusing on process rather than people.
  • The division office Financial Integrity Review and Evaluation (FIRE) Program to assess the financial aspects of programs and projects.

2.2 TDOT Responsibilities

TDOT hereby advises FHWA that it wishes to assume project oversight responsibilities in accordance with the following:

  • Interstate Projects – TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of the following projects on the Interstate System: (1) all resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation (3R) projects and (2) all other projects with an estimated construction cost of less than $1 million. All Interstate projects must comply with all Title 23 U.S.C. and non-Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Other NHS Projects (not on the Interstate System) – For NHS projects not on the Interstate System, TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects on the NHS. All NHS projects must comply with all Title 23 U.S.C. and non-Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Non-NHS Projects – TDOT assumes oversight responsibility for the right-of-way approval, utility approval, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, plans, specifications, estimates, contract award, and inspection of projects not on the NHS. Non-NHS projects are required to be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with State law, regulations, directives, safety standards, design standards, and construction standards, in lieu of many Title 23 U.S.C. requirements. Title 23 U.S.C. requirements that are applicable to all Federal-aid projects include, but are not limited to, transportation planning, procurement of professional services, Davis-Bacon wage rates, advertising for bids, award of contracts, use of convict produced materials, Buy America Act provisions and other requirements. All non-NHS projects must also comply with all non-Title 23 U.S.C. requirements.
  • Local Agency Projects – TDOT is responsible for assuring that all Federal-aid projects administered by local agencies comply with all applicable Federal and State requirements. TDOT is not relieved of this responsibility even though the project may be delegated to the local agency. In accordance with 23 CFR 1.11 and 635.105, TDOT is responsible for ensuring that the local agency is qualified and equipped to administer the project and has processes in place to ensure compliance with Federal requirements.

For those projects that TDOT has agreed to assume oversight responsibility, TDOT will follow all applicable FHWA policies, regulations, Title 23, and non-Title 23 requirements as if FHWA were involved.

Section 3 – Stewardship Roles and Responsibilities for Specific Functional Program Areas

3.1 Environmental Process

In accordance with Section 1309 of TEA-21, the FHWA is the lead federal agency in integrating the full range of environmental requirements under a single, unified process that results in effective and sound transportation decisions. These laws and regulations include NEPA and implementing regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 40 CFR 1500 and FHWA 23 CFR 771; Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act and implementing regulations 23 CFR 771; Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing regulations 36 CFR 800; Section 404 of the Clean Water Act; and Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as well as others.

For all projects that require an action be taken by FHWA, the Tennessee Division and TDOT will work together to ensure compliance with NEPA and other applicable laws before an alternative is selected (location/design approval). The level of involvement is commensurate with the level of the environmental impacts or project complexity and will depend on the project environmental documentation class. TDOT will have an environmental procedures manual for preparing environmental documentation that will outline the process for each class of actions.

Table 1 shows a list of TDOT and FHWA project actions related to the environmental process. The successful administration of the Federal-aid Highway Program is predicated upon TDOT's commitment to the preparation and submittal of fully completed documents in accordance with established guidelines, formats, and procedures. Environmental documents prepared by local public agencies and consultants will first be reviewed and accepted by TDOT prior to being forwarded to FHWA. FHWA's goal is to respond to all submissions as soon as possible and within timeframes shown in the tables. (All timeframes are expressed in business days from receipt and response can occur anytime within the number of days indicated.)

Table 1. Environmental Process Actions and Review Timeframes
Work ActivityTDOT ActionFHWA ActionOutcome
Programmatic Categorical Exclusion1Prepare and approvePeriodic PR/PEApproved CE
Non-Programmatic Categorical ExclusionPrepare and submit for FHWA review and approvalReview and Comment
(10 days)
Approved CE or comments returned for corrective actions leading to approved CE
Preliminary Environmental AssessmentPrepare and submit to FHWA for reviewReview and Comment
(20 days)
Comments provided
Environmental AssessmentPrepare and submit to FHWA for approvalApprove EA
(10 days)
Approved EA
Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)Prepare FONSI request and submit to FHWAReview and Comment (21 days)Comments Provided
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)Prepare FONSI request and submit to FHWAIssue FONSI
(10 days)
FONSI
Notice of IntentPrepare draft Notice of Intent and forward to FHWAReview and revise Notice of Intent and forward for publication in the Federal Register (5 days)Publication in Federal Register
Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact StatementPrepare and submit to FHWA for reviewReview and comment
(20 days)
Comments provided
Cooperating Agency Review of Draft Environmental Impact StatementPrepare and submit to Cooperating Agency for review.
Suggest review within 30 days
Request Legal Sufficiency review
(30 days)
Cooperating Agency Comments and Legal Sufficiency Review
Draft Environmental Impact StatementPrepare and submit to FHWA for approvalApprove DEIS
(21 days)
DEIS
Preliminary Final Environmental Impact StatementPrepare and submit to FHWA for reviewReview and Comment
(20 days)
Comments provided
Cooperating Agency Review of Final EISPrepare and submit to Cooperating Agency for review
Suggest review within 30 days
NoneCooperating Agency Comments
Final Environmental Impact StatementPrepare and submit to FHWA for approvalApprove FEIS
(10 days)
FEIS
Supplemental Environmental Impact StatementPrepare and submit to FHWA for approvalApprove SEIS
(21 days)
SEIS
Record of Decision (ROD)Prepare Draft ROD and Forward to FHWAReview, Revise, and Issue ROD
(10 days)
ROD
Preliminary Programmatic Section 4 (f) EvaluationPrepare and submit for FHWA reviewReview and comment
(15 days)
Comments provided
Programmatic Section 4 (f) EvaluationPrepare and submit to FHWA for approvalApprove Programmatic Section 4 (f) Evaluation
(10 days)
Approved Section 4 (f) Evaluation
Preliminary Draft Section 4 (f) Evaluation if de minimis determination neededPrepare and submit to FHWA for reviewReview and Comment
(15 days)
Comments provided
Draft Section 4 (f) EvaluationPrepare and submit to FHWA for review and circulationReview Draft Sec 4 (f) Evaluation (10 days).
Distribute to Dept. of Interior for comment and submit for a Legal Sufficiency review
Comments on Draft Sec 4 (f) Evaluation
Final Section 4 (f) EvaluationPrepare and submit to FHWA for approvalApprove Final Section 4 (f) Evaluation, including the de minimis determination; send to DOI (10 days)Final Section 4 (f) Evaluation
Section 106 Adverse Effect DeterminationPrepare and submit to FHWAMake determination and forward to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (15 days)Adverse Effect Determination
Draft Section 106 Memorandum of AgreementNegotiate MOA and Submit to FHWA for commentSign MOA
(21 days)
Executed Section 106 MOA
Section 106 Memorandum of AgreementAcquire other approvals, Approve, and Submit to FHWA for approvalSign MOA
(10 days)
Executed Section 106 MOA
Draft Written Re-evaluation of EIS2.Prepare and Submit for FHWA reviewReview and Comment
(15 days)
Comments provided
Formal Written Re-evaluation of EIS, EA, or FONSI2Prepare and Submit to FHWA for approvalApprove Re-evaluation
(10 days)
Re-evaluation
Re-evaluation of Categorical Exclusions 2Prepare and Submit to FHWA for concurrenceConcur in Re-evaluation (5 days)Re-evaluation
Environmental Consultant Contracts and Supplements on Full Oversight ProjectsPrepare and submit to FHWA for approval.Review and Approve (10 days)Appropriate Contract for project
Environmental Consultant Contracts and Supplements on Non-Oversight ProjectsPrepare and approve.NoneAppropriate Contract for project

1 Refer to Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Approval Agreement between FHWA and TDOT

2 A re-evaluation of a Draft EIS is required if an acceptable final document has not been submitted within 3 years of the date of the draft EIS circulation, 23 CFR 771.129(a). A re-evaluation of a Final EIS is required if major steps to advance the action have not occurred within 3 years after approval of the final EIS, final EIS supplemental, or the last major Administration approval or grant, 23 CFR 771.129(b). A re-evaluation of a Categorical Exclusion, an Environmental Assessment or a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is required if one year has elapsed since document approval, or if one year has elapsed since a previous re-evaluation was approved.

Performance/Compliance Indicators:

The following performance indicators will be used to assess the health of the Environmental program:

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EIS Ratings

    Indicator: The rating that EPA provides on draft EIS documents.

    Reporting Instrument: A list of all DEIS documents completed in the reporting period identifying the EPA rating along with a project description.

    Reporting Frequency: Annually

  2. Completion Time for Environmental Documents

    Indicator: The time to complete an EA from 45 days after the date of the Initial Coordination Letter through the FONSI date and the time to complete an EIS from Notice of Intent (NOI) to the Record of Decision (ROD).

    Reporting Instrument: A list of all EAs and EISs completed in the reporting period identifying the length of time along with a project description.

    Reporting Frequency: Annually by December 31 for the previous FY

3.2 Right-of-Way Process

All Federal, State, and local public agencies (and others receiving Federal financial assistance for public programs and projects requiring the acquisition of real property) must comply with the policies and provisions set forth in the Uniform Act and its amendments. The current regulations implementing the Uniform Act were first published in the Federal Register of March 2, 1989, and are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Part 24. These regulations contain the standards and procedures that acquiring agencies must follow in their appraisal, acquisition, and relocation assistance programs.

Additionally, state and local public agencies using federal funds for transportation programs administered under Title 23 U.S.C. must adhere to the regulations contained in Title 23 U.S.C. 710 in the administration of their Right-of-Way (ROW) programs.

The following oversight functional areas involving the Federal-aid ROW program are covered under 49 CFR (24), which has no provision for exemptions under Title 23 U.S.C.:

  • Appraisal
  • Acquisition
  • Relocation

The work activities listed below are covered under 23 CFR (parts are listed in parenthesis) and require specific approval and/or oversight by FHWA:

  • State ROW operations manual (710.201)
  • ROW authorization (710.307)
  • Air rights on the interstate (710.405) & NHS (710.201)
  • Airspace leases/joint use agreements (710.407)
  • Sale/transfer of excess ROW (710.409)
  • Early acquisition, protective buying, and hardship (710.501 & 503)
  • Functional replacement (710.509)
  • Federal land transfers (710.601)
  • Highway beautification (750)
  • Indirect costs (part 710.203 (d) subpart B)

The work activities listed below are covered in 23 CFR and do not require specific program or project approvals, but are not exempted from FHWA oversight under Title 23 U.S.C.:

  • Direct eligible costs including administrative, legal and court settlements (710.203 (b))
  • Real property donations (710.505)

Even though there are no exemptions under the law for any functions covered in 49 CFR 24, for practical purposes there are two levels of review of those elements. One level depends on whether the project involves ROW acquisition and has Federal-aid in other phases of work but none in ROW. The second level depends on whether there is Federal-aid in the ROW project phases. Although the ROW regulations must be followed under both levels, there is less concern about the reasonableness of the actual dollar expenditures in those projects containing no Federal-aid in the ROW. The primary concerns with these projects are to protect the rights of property owners and displaced persons.

For the second level of projects, there is a dual concern for the rights of property owners and displaced persons and the stewardship of the federal dollars. Continuous review of the State's activities has proven to be an effective means of assuring that the rights of owners and displaced persons are protected as well as monitoring the expenditure of federal funds. This will be continued under this stewardship plan. Process reviews and program evaluations will be conducted when needs or trends are identified at either of the above project levels. The reviews will be conducted jointly with TDOT personnel whenever possible.

Local Public Agencies (LPAs), i.e., cities and counties, are required to comply with the Uniform Act and its governing regulations found in 49 CFR 24 in the same manner as TDOT. As stipulated in 23 CFR 710.201(b), STAs are responsible for assuring that ROW acquisitions by local public agencies are made in compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations.

Table 2 identifies the agencies responsible for each right-of-way program area activity, approving action, and product under this oversight agreement. If any problems are identified, a process review or CPI review may be scheduled. Periodic product evaluations will be conducted to ensure that the current process is producing a quality product in conformance with policy. Process reviews and CPI reviews will be the method for evaluating compliance and effectiveness in each of the program areas.

Certain ROW activities are not covered specifically by either 49 or 23 CFR but are a combination of sound business practice and the occasional national emphasis areas, which affect the ROW program. Joint reviews of these topics and their application will be conducted as needed.

Table 2. Right-of-Way Process Actions and Review Timeframes
WORK ACTIVITYTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONOUTCOME
ROW Authorizations and Agreements (23 CFR 635.309)RequestsElectronic Signature – All Projects
(5 days)
Authorization & Agreements
ROW Certification (23 CFR 710.311}Certification Status on All Projects included with "Request for Authorization to Advertise"Review and approve full oversight projects
(5 days)
Certificates
Air Rights (23 CFR 710.405)NHS – Request to FHWA
non NHS – Approval
Review and Approve NHS
(10 days)
Airspace Agreement
Leases/joint use agreements (23 CFR 407)NHS – Request to FHWA non NHS – ApprovalReview and Approve – NHS
(10 days)
Lease/Agreements
Disposal of Excess ROW (23 CFR 710.409)NHS & Less than fair market value – Request to FHWA
Non-NHS – Approval
Review and Approve – NHS & Less Than Fair Market Value
(10 days)
Property Sale and Revenue to Transportation Fund
Access Control – Disposal and Changes Transfer (23 CFR 710.401)Request (Interstate)
Approve (Non-Interstate)
Review and Approve – Interstate
(10 days)
Disposition/Change
Federal Land Transfer (23 CFR 710.601)Prepare RequestReview and Approve
(60 days)
Transfer Deeds
Early Acquisition, Hardship, Protective Buying (23 CFR 710.501, (23 CFR 710.503)Prepare SubmissionReview, Approve, and Authorize
(10 days)
Property Ownership
ROW Operations Manual (23 CFR 710.201)Prepare ManualReview and Approve
(10 days)
Manual
Highway Beautification Manual (23 CFR 750.304)Prepare RequestReview and Approve
(10 days)
Manual

Performance/Compliance Indicators:

The following performance indicators will be used to assess the health of the ROW program:

  1. Conditional Certifications

    Indicator: Number of Federal-aid projects with conditional ROW Certifications.

    Reporting Instrument: A list of all Federal-aid projects authorized in the reporting period and the number of projects with conditional ROW Certifications.

    Reporting Frequency: Annually

  2. Condemnations

    Indicator: Percentage of condemnations do not exceed 25% of the parcels acquired during the reporting period.

    Reporting Instrument: Uniform Act Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Statistical Report as required by 49 CFR 24, Appendix B.

    Reporting Frequency: Annually by December 31 for the previous FY

3.3 Design Monitoring Process

The purpose of a design monitoring program is to establish procedures for assuring that Federal-aid projects are constructed in accordance with 23 CFR Part 625 Design Standards for Highways, 626 Pavement Policy, 627 Value Engineering, 630 Pre-construction Procedures, 633 Required Contract Provisions, 645 Utilities, 646 Railroads, 650 Bridges, 652 Pedestrian and Bicycle Accommodations and Projects, 655 Traffic Operations, 771 Environmental Impact and Related Procedure, and 772 Noise. It is FHWA policy that FHWA personnel make sufficient reviews of Federal-aid projects to assure they are designed in accordance with applicable standards and in consideration of appropriate cost-effectiveness strategies.

All projects on the NHS, regardless of funding source, must follow FHWA approved AASHTO design standards except for non-freeway 3R projects where TDOT may request FHWA approval to use state developed standards.

For Federal-aid projects on the NHS, including the Interstate System, the primary objectives of the design monitoring program are:

  • To promote improved safety through appropriate use of design standards and guidelines.
  • To make value added input at appropriate points in the project development process, with emphasis on early involvement in the project decision making process.
  • To maintain a close working relationship between FHWA and TDOT project development personnel.
  • To ensure the integrity of the Interstate system through the review and approval of Interstate access point additions or modifications.
  • To promote context sensitive solutions concepts
  • To ensure that environmental commitments are incorporated into projects.

The types of design reviews that will be undertaken by FHWA include:

Early Planning Reviews: Early involvement maximizes FHWA's opportunity to participate in design decisions with the goals of promoting safety and preserving human and natural environment. FHWA's participation in developing possible transportation solutions or concept development meetings, prior to any public meetings, should be included on Federal-aid projects of a scope that is likely to require an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, or a FHWA full oversight project.

Intermediate Reviews (Preliminary Plans, ROW Plans and Construction Plans): These reviews are appropriate during the time the design concepts and major design features are being developed and finalized. The purposes of intermediate reviews are to assure that appropriate design considerations are used during layout development, to assure that environmental commitments are observed, to assure cost-effective design alternates are considered, to maintain communication with the highway agency, and to evaluate the quality of the product. On complex projects an onsite plan-in-hand review should be conducted and a review team approach considered. FHWA will participate in intermediate reviews on full-oversight projects.

Plans, Specifications and Estimate (PS&E) Reviews: These are the last reviews in the preparation of project documents, allowing project authorization to take place. The reviews may utilize a checklist approach and should generally not involve a design review if there was adequate FHWA involvement during the intermediate reviews leading up to the final plans. These reviews are required on all FHWA oversight projects to assure that the project is ready for authorization.

Design Process Reviews/Program Evaluations (PR/PE): These are reviews that evaluate the adequacy of the processes and procedures used by TDOT on design activities. Their purpose is to provide oversight and control of design methods, techniques, procedures and policies on a statewide or area wide basis. Process reviews can be broad in scope, covering a major design activity such as conceptual studies, preliminary plan development, or PS&E preparation, or they can be more specific, covering such elements as geometrics, pavement design, safety, structures, etc. All process reviews should include a sufficient sampling of actual products and/or projects to assure that the process is producing the intended results. As appropriate, non-full federal oversight projects will be included in the sample of projects inspected as a part of process reviews.

Design and Operation Reviews: These reviews are undertaken for recently completed projects to evaluate the effectiveness of current design policy and detect design features that can be improved. The reviews should be conducted using a team approach with representatives from various functional areas. Projects should be open to traffic before being considered as candidates for a design and operation review.

On Federal-aid projects where TDOT has the delegated authority to act for FHWA in design monitoring, a similar type of program of independent reviews will be conducted. TDOT administered projects are subject to joint FHWA-TDOT process reviews and inspections and must comply with applicable Federal requirements. For Federal-aid projects off the NHS, the objective of the design monitoring program is to ensure that non- Title 23 U.S.C. requirements are met.

Along with the general items listed above for FHWA project review, the following are specific requirements for bridge projects:

  • For new or reconstruction bridge projects on the Interstate system (bridges that carry interstate traffic and interchange bridges), preliminary bridge plans as well as final plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) will be submitted to FHWA for review.
  • For new or reconstruction bridge projects that carry traffic over the Interstate Highway regardless of funding source, preliminary bridge plans will be submitted to FHWA for the purpose of evaluating horizontal and vertical clearances on the Interstate system.
  • FHWA may elect to retain oversight on Federal-aid projects involving unusual structures. Unusual structures may include tunnels, structures featuring new or complex wall systems, structures that involve complex stream stability countermeasures, or designs that are atypical or unique. Unusual bridges may include unique foundation problems, complex designs with unique features, bridges with exceptionally long spans, or bridges being designed with procedures that depart from currently recognized acceptable practices.
  • FHWA will be available for technical assistance on all Federal-aid and non-Federal-aid bridge projects.
Table 3. Design Monitoring Process Actions and Review Timeframes
WORK ACTIVITYFULL FEDERAL OVERSIGHT PROJECTSSTATE ADMINISTERED PROJECTS ON THE NHSSTATE ADMINISTERED PROJECTS OFF THE NHS
TDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTION
Preliminary and intermediate design plansPrepareReview and Comment
(10 Days)
Prepare and CommentNonePrepare and CommentNone
Design Exceptions1PrepareApprove
(10 Days)
ApproveNonePrepare and ApproveNone
Engineering and Operations Analysis (Necessary for Interstate Access Modification)PrepareApprove
(15 Days to Approve or forward to HQ for Approval)
PrepareApprove
(15 Days to Approve or forward to HQ for Approval)
N/AN/A
Value Engineering Annual SummaryCompleteApprove and forward to HQ (10 days)CompleteApprove and forward to HQ (10 days)Not RequiredNone
Public Interest Finding (Special Products, Sole Source Specs, Proprietary Items, etc.)PrepareApprove
(10 Days)
PrepareApprove
(10 Days)
Prepare and ApproveNone
Bridge Preliminary Plan Review (TS&L, structure type, & foundation review) for projects with bridge costs greater than $10 millionPrepareApprove
(10 days)
PrepareProvide Technical Assistance2PrepareProvide Technical Assistance2
Design Consultant services contractsPrepareReview and approve (10 days)Prepare and ApproveNonePrepare and ApproveNone
PS&EPrepareApprove
(10 Days)
Prepare and ApproveNonePrepare and ApproveNone
New/revised Standard DrawingsMinor Revision: Prepare and approve.
Major Revision: Prepare
Minor Revision: None
Major Revision: Approve3
(10 days)
PrepareApprove3
(10 days)
PrepareNone3
3R Standards on the NHSPrepareApprove
(10 days)
PrepareApprove
(10 days)
PrepareNone

1 FHWA approves design exceptions for all interstate and Appalachian Development Projects. This includes both full oversight and non-full oversight projects. State Design Engineer approves all other design exceptions.
2 FHWA must approve for all bridges over the Interstate regardless of funding source
3 FHWA must approve New Standard Drawings for use on NHS projects

Performance/Compliance Indicators

  • For all Federal-aid projects, percent of PS&E's that have all necessary documentation at day of advertisement.
  • Percent of interstate access modifications that demonstrate reduced congestion. Goal 100%.
  • Value Engineering annual summary done in accordance with federal requirements.

3.4 Programming and Project Authorization/Agreement Process

TEA-21 requires an opportunity for early and continuous public involvement in the development of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Funding flexibility and expanded project eligibility under TEA-21 have given decision makers more options to address transportation priorities. Public involvement in transportation issues and decision making is vital because of expanded eligibility and diversity.

Ultimately, FHWA is accountable for ensuring that the Federal highway program is delivered consistent with the established requirements. Through program streamlining and flexibility, TEA-21 legislation assumes certain project approval authorities to the states. For non-Interstate projects on the National Highway System and 3R projects on the Interstate System, TDOT may assume the responsibilities for design, plans, specifications, estimates, contract awards, and inspections of projects unless TDOT and FHWA determines that such assumption is not appropriate. For projects not on the National Highway System, TDOT shall assume the responsibilities for design, plan, specifications, estimates, contract awards, and inspection of projects, unless TDOT and FHWA determines that such assumption is not appropriate.

Authorization to proceed with a project is accomplished by FHWA after a specific request is received from TDOT. FHWA Authorization to advertise the physical construction for bids or to proceed with force account construction thereof shall not be given until all of the following conditions have been met in accordance with 23 CFR 635.

  • PS&E is complete and ready for advertisement
  • ROW available
  • Utilities coordinated
  • Railroad Agreements obtained
  • Permits obtained
  • Environmental documents approved and appropriate environmental commitments have been included in the PS&E.

Occasional exceptions may be made to the ROW, utility, and railroad requirements above when meeting one or more of these conditions are not "feasible or practical." In these cases, the PS&E must adequately account for these exceptions.

For full oversight projects, TDOT will provide all required documentation to FHWA at least 7 business days prior to the date authorization is requested. All documentation will be provided to FHWA in a single submittal. A PS&E Project Checklist (see Attachment 2) should be used to facilitate this submittal. If it is not feasible or practical to submit any required documentation with the submittal, a status of this documentation will be provided with the submittal. FHWA will review the project documentation to assure that all project requirements are met. For projects on the NHS with state administered oversight, the TDOT will ensure that all applicable requirements have been met and that the project was developed in compliance with this agreement and all applicable laws and standards.

The TDOT and FHWA will utilize electronic signature procedures for requesting and approving Project Authorizations and Project Agreements for each Federal-aid highway and highway planning and research project eligible for Federal-aid funding. On State administered oversight projects, submittal of the project authorization to FHWA for electronic signature will serve as TDOT's implicit certification that all applicable requirements are satisfied.

Table 4. Programming Process Summary Table
ACTIVITYTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONOUTCOME
Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)Review and Approve per 23 CFR 450.312 reference to 23 CFR 450.324 through 330. Send to FHWA no later than the STIP submittal.As a part of STIP submittal, review TIPs for inclusion into STIP, See STIP approval.TIPs Accepted For Inclusion in STIP.
STIP ApprovalPrepare and Submit per 23 CFR 450.216 and 450.220 including certification. No later than 8/30.Review and make joint planning finding with FTA (initiated 66 days in advance of STIP expiration). Review and Approve STIP jointly with FTA. 20-day review and comment period on STIP. Send approval letter if issues are resolved. Otherwise, 20-day review period initiated for revised documentLetter of Approval Signed By FHWA & FTA.
STIP AmendmentsPrepare and submit per 23 CFR 450.216 and 450.220 according to procedures as defined in the 2005 FHWA/FTA/TDOT MOA.Review and Approve
(10 days)
Approved STIP Amendment By Endorsement of Request.
Table 5. Project Authorization/Agreement Process Summary Table
WORK ACTIVITYTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONOUTCOME
Approval of Federal Project Authorization/AgreementCompletion of Federal Project Authorization/AgreementApproval of Federal Project Authorization/Agreement
3 days for Non-Oversight projects
7 days for Oversight projects
Authorized Project
Modified AgreementSubmit modified Project Authorization due to changes in cost and/or scope-of-workApprove modification
(5 days)
Modified authorization
WORK ACTIVITYFULL FEDERAL OVERSIGHT PROJECTSSTATE ADMINISTERED PROJECTS ON THE NHSSTATE ADMINISTERED PROJECTS OFF THE NHS
TDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTIONTDOT ACTIONFHWA ACTION
Authorization to AdvertisePrepare AuthorizationApprove Authorization (7 days)Prepare AuthorizationApprove Authorization (3 days)Prepare AuthorizationApprove Authorization (3 days)
PS&E AddendumsPrepareApprove (5 days)ApproveNoneApproveNone
Utility Certification (Include in PS&E Package1)PrepareApprove (7 days)ApproveNoneApproveNone
ROW Certification (Include in PS&E Package)PrepareApprove (7 days)Prepare and ApproveNonePrepare and ApproveNone
Permits (Include in PS&E Package)Obtain PermitsReview PermitsObtain PermitsNoneObtain PermitsNone
Consultant SelectionExecute Consultant ContractApprove Agreement (5 days)Execute Consultant ContractNoneExecute Consultant ContractNone
Experimental FeaturesPrepareApprove (10 days)ApproveNoneApproveNone
Warranty ClausesPrepareApprove (10 days)PrepareApprove (10 days)Prepare and approveNone
Pavement DesignPrepareApprove as part of PS&EPrepare and ApproveNoneApproveNone
Life Cycle Cost AnalysisPrepare and ApproveReview and ConcurPrepare and ApproveNoneApproveNone
Value Engineering Analysis2Prepare and ApproveReview and ConcurPrepare and ApproveNoneNoneNone

1 See Attachment 2 for PS&E Project Checklist.
2 Required only on NHS projects with a total cost (construction+ROW+PE) greater than $25 million.

Performance and Compliance Indicators:

1. Percent of State-administered projects that have all necessary documents submitted prior to construction authorization (Goal = 100 percent)

Contact

Firas Ibrahim
Office of Program Administration
202-366-1564
E-mail Firas

 
 
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Updated: 07/28/2011
 

FHWA
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration