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PEL Questionnaire Equivalents for Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)

Equivalent Approach: Project Delivery Process Design Manual 1 [DM1] – Project Delivery Process (Process) and the Regional Long Range Transportation Guidance (Guidance)

In 2010, PennDOT finalized the integration of its Project Delivery Process with the regional Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) Guidance as an overarching guidance/policy for PennDOT and its Partners/Consultants/Contractors who collectively have responsibility for advancing transportation projects through the planning and project delivery process. Implementation of the Process and the Guidance “links” the project planning and delivery processes will improve efficiency in the identification, coordination and in the advancement of Pennsylvania's transportation program.

Equivalence Criteria Met
  1. Institutionalized Process
  2. Required:
    1. The early and continuous coordination with regulatory and resource agencies
    2. Public and stakeholder coordination
    3. Description of planning scope and vision statement
    4. Alternatives that were considered, selected, and rejected
    5. Explanation of planning assumptions
  3. Recommended:
    1. Analysis of the affected environment and environmental consequences
    2. Potential strategies for broad-scale mitigation
    3. Description and/or analysis of potential cumulative effects
    4. A method of documenting FHWA approval
The flexibility provided by federal law and policy, the new statewide Process and Guidance and PennDOT goals to improve the selection and overall quality of projects delivered, in terms of scope, cost, and schedule; led to the establishment of seven primary objectives for this Process:

  • Focus available funds and resources on the most necessary transportation needs
  • Improve cost estimates for potential projects
  • Increase accuracy in project scheduling and improve predictability for project delivery through timely information sharing
  • Develop better and more accurate project scopes
  • Better reflect PennDOT goals in project selection
  • Improve communication, coordination and cooperation within and between PennDOT, the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO)/Rural Planning Organization (RPO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), other transportation planning entities, tribal nations and the resource agencies
  • Promote early public participation and public involvement

Alignment with equivalence criteria

The institutionalized integration of transportation planning and environment as described in the PennDOT Process and Guidance, meets all of the FHWA required as well as all the recommended equivalence criteria. The following information describes the components that align with the criteria.

Institutionalized Process: Criteria 1 [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.]

The Pennsylvania Transportation Partners, which include USDOT, PennDOT, Federal and state regulatory and resource agencies, 16 MPOs, and 8 RPOs, collaborated over several years to improve the planning and project delivery process statewide. Through this coordinated effort, Partners were able to reach consensus to implement the Process and Guidance beginning in June 2011 in coordination with the 2013TIP/STIP/Twelve Year Program (TYP) development. Specific implementation milestones are identified below:

  • A date for the implementation of the Process and Guidance within PennDOT was established (June 30, 2011).
  • An update of all Regional Long Range Plans reflecting the Process and Guidance must be initiated prior to December 2012.
  • Implementation of the Project Development Screening Forms 1, 2 and 3 is scheduled as a documentation tool.

Required Criteria: [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.]

The Project Delivery Process and the LRTP Guidance identify roles and responsibilities for PennDOT, MPO/RPO, regulatory and resource agency and FHWA staff. The steps to accomplish this objective are listed below:

  • Step 1: Problem Assessment. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    Problem Assessment is the initial identification of any transportation-related problem intended for consideration as part of the regional LRTP. Problem assessment can be advanced by citizens, municipalities, counties, transportation authorities and other organizations heavily reliant or dependent upon the transportation system.
  • Step 2: Proposal Identification. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    The MPO/RPO works with partners to develop a list of prioritized proposals and programs suitable for evaluation as part of the planning process and then adopts a regional Long Range Transportation Plan that best reflects those priorities. Clarification of purpose and need will be defined during problem identification in the LRTP.
  • Step 3: Proposal Initiation. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    The proposal initiation phase provides an opportunity for MPO and RPO based Technical or Coordinating Committee to review proposal for completeness and make the preliminary determinations on the necessary level of documentation and public outreach. Each Technical or Coordinating Committee should consult with PennDOT representatives, County and Municipal officials, and technical environmental and transportation experts to make a preliminary determination of whether a proposal is suitable for advancement. This step can be used to begin to identify environmental “red flags” and narrow the range of potential alternatives.
  • Step 4: Proposal Definition. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    Problems that are advanced to the Proposal Definition Phase need further examination and/or clarification before being advanced as a candidate for the LRTP and TIP process. Alternatively a proposal can be initiated at this point when it is a less complex problem (such as Asset Management action) to finish defining a need so that it can be included in the early years of the LRTP and considered for the TIP.
    This step is intended to ensure further analysis of the potential impacts to environmental (natural, social, and cultural) resources; bicycle and pedestrian issues; conceptual engineering; tribal and public participation; and additional coordination activities, as well as, to document preliminary cost estimates. This step will begin or further narrow the range of potential alternatives. If a Detailed Studies Report is identified as the desired approach to document the considerations, it will include:
    • Description of the Problem
    • Purpose and Need
    • Study Area Description
    • Alternatives Screening
    • Design Criteria
    • Environmental Analysis (preliminary, if appropriate)
    • NEPA Class of Action Analysis
    • Anticipated Cost
    • Proposed Schedule
    • Public and Agency Involvement
  • Step 5: Project Identification on TIP/STIP. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    The TIP/STIP approval process considers the proposals as developed above then selects transportation improvements with the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth and individual counties/regions. Considering the information gathered through the Process and Guidance allows partners to more effectively identify, choose and approve for inclusion on the TIP, a mix of projects to best meet regionally varied needs while responsibly anticipating the likely costs (time, money, controversy) of potential environmental impacts and mitigation.
  • Step 6: Preliminary Engineering/NEPA Decision. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    NEPA compliance and decision-making occur with Preliminary Engineering during Step 6 of the Process. Pre-TIP decisions, environmental and engineering data and analyses are verified and used as the foundation for post-TIP phases. The preliminary engineering and environmental studies will determine the type, size, and location of the transportation project best suited to meet a transportation need. Especially for large projects, design can be a highly complex and time-consuming process that engages a large number of diverse interests, technical disciplines, regulations and review authorities. Design requires gathering information, developing a range of possible alternatives and making decisions that often affect a variety of interests. Tribal, public and regulatory and resource agency consultation and coordination is undertaken in a timely and meaningful manner. The results of studies undertaken in step 6 will provide data to further refine cost estimates necessary to update the TIP.
  • Step 7: Final Design and Construction. [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.;]
    Final Design activities incorporate the environmental and preliminary engineering as well as any environmental commitments to develop the detailed Plans, Specifications, and Estimates (PS&Es) required for construction. Right-of-way activities and utility coordination is also undertaken in this phase. The more detailed information gathered during preliminary engineering allows Final Design, right-of-way, utility and ultimately construction efforts to commence in a timely and effect manner.

FHWA Role [1.; 2.a.; 2.b.; 2.c.; 2.d.; 2.e.; 3.a.; 3.b.; 3.c.; 3.d.]

FHWA formally approved the Project Delivery Process on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 and participated in the review process for the LRTP Guidance, agreeing by approval to participate in the process through the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Establishes an advisory role for FHWA in Steps 1-4 of the Project Delivery Process Invitation for “view” access to the planning screening form software
  • Invitation to participate in the Screening Field View as identified in the Proposal Initiation Phase
  • Invitation to review any Detailed Studies Report initiated during the Proposal Definition Phase
  • Coordination with District Environmental Managers in any changes to the NEPA Class of Action as it is identified in the Proposal Definition Phase
  • Review and approval of the Regional LRTPs and the STIP
  • Invitation, identification and coordination of agencies to participate in the NEPA decision making process in the Preliminary Engineering/NEPA Decision Phase
  • Confirmation of the NEPA Class of Action in the Preliminary Engineering/NEPA Decision Phase
  • Invitation to participate in the Screening Field View as identified in the Preliminary Engineering/NEPA Decision Phase
  • Review and approval of the Environmental Decision for CE, EA (FONSI), EIS (ROD)
  • Guidance, input, review and oversight during the Final Design and Construction Phase
Page last modified on February 12, 2018
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