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Home / About / Field Offices / Missouri Division / Programs / FHWA/MODOT Oversight Manual / FHWA/MODOT Letter of Oversight Agreement

FHWA/MODOT Letter of Oversight Agreement

The following letter was signed on February 2, 2007.

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 allow States to assume certain responsibilities for FHWA in some National Environmental Policy Act approvals and in the design, construction, award and inspection of certain Federal-aid projects.

Section 106 of Title 23, Project Approval and Oversight, requires an agreement between the Secretary of Transportation and the State relating to the extent to which the State assumes nearly all FHWA responsibilities for projects under Title 23 for project development (plans, specifications, and estimates), contract awards, and inspections/final acceptance of Federal-aid highway projects. This agreement supersedes the previous agreement between the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the FHWA Missouri Division (MoDivision) dated May 14, 1999. This agreement will become effective upon the signing by FHWA Missouri Division Administrator and MoDOT Director and remain in effect until both parties mutually agree to revise it.


    Congress has charged the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with administering the Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP) under Title 23 and other associated laws. Section 106 of Title 23, United States Code, requires that FHWA and the State Department of Transportation (SDOT) enter into an agreement documenting the extent to which the State assumes the responsibilities of FHWA. This Stewardship/Oversight Agreement explains and formalizes the division of responsibilities and authorities between MoDOT and the FHWA Missouri Division Office in administering the FAHP.

    The FHWA and MoDOT have jointly administered the FAHP for many years. Together we have been tasked with carrying this out efficiently and effectively in accomplishing national, State, and local goals. Our long-time stewardship efforts include administering the many day-to-day activities and actions that are routinely performed by either or both agencies to ensure regulatory compliance, delivery of high quality products and, in many ways, enhancing the value of the program serving the public. This partnership has resulted in mutual confidence in one another and a high level of trust between the two agencies.

    Several years ago, when Stewardship Agreements were first introduced and developed in response to 1991 ISTEA provisions, the documents that were produced principally addressed how MoDOT and FHWA would handle the delegated authorities of some project actions and some oversight responsibilities. Since that time and with the passage of TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU and FHWA HQ emphasis, the overall program has evolved requiring a more comprehensive Agreement that covers the many aspects of the FAHP. This Agreement provides a road map in executing the Federal-aid program relating to a wide variety of programs, financial integrity, and delivery of a large number of projects.

    Together MoDOT and FHWA are partnering to provide a world-class transportation experience that delights our customers and promotes a prosperous Missouri. We are taking a systematic approach to bringing our entire system into good condition. Programs such as "Smooth Roads Initiative", "Better Roads Brighter Future", and "Safe and Sound" when complete will bring 85% of our major roads and 800 bridges into good condition. We are utilizing innovation and creativity in engineering and contracting to meet our funding challenges. Practical design and value engineering allow us to meet the project need while receiving the best value for the least cost while maintaining a safer roadway. The use of performance specifications and design build have allowed the consulting and contracting industry to best utilize their knowledge and experience when designing and building our projects. Alternate bid and mechanistic pavement design ensures competitive bidding on paving projects. We will also focus on improving safety with "Missouri Blueprint for Safe Roadways. This is a focused approach that outlines opportunities to reduce fatalities and serious injuries.

    The completion of these and future initiatives will be accomplished through our strong partnership.


    The changes in Federal law have recognized (1) the need to redefine what is in the national interest that requires FHWA involvement, (2) the maturity of State DOTs to manage their own programs in a competent manner, and (3) the challenges for FHWA to keep pace with a continually expanding and complex program without additional staff. The intent of this Stewardship-Oversight Agreement and attachments is to describe the roles, the division and assignments of responsibilities and authority of each agency in the stewardship of the FAHP so that employees of either agency who are assigned to any element of the FAHP will have a ready reference to guide them. It also describes how both agencies can work better and more efficiently together in identifying quality improvements in process, products, and services.

    This agreement does not supersede or replace the provisions of Title 23, USC and related laws. The FHWA retains responsibility for all aspects of Federal-aid programs and this Agreement does not preclude FHWA's access to and review of all records related to the FAHP or projects at any time.

    As described in this agreement, FHWA will continue to provide stewardship of the FAHP through a risk management process, general actions and concurrences, certain program and project approvals and providing training, technical assistance, and development and deployment of new technologies.


    Process reviews and/or program evaluations will be conducted on various elements of the FAHP in addition to individual project reviews or inspections. Various techniques will be used in determining which reviews and evaluations are to be conducted including risk assessments, agreed upon activities, pre-determined review schedules for specific programs or components, and FHWA and/or MoDOT management emphasis or decisions. The reviews can be conducted by individuals or teams from FHWA, MoDOT, other State agencies, or stakeholder groups and organizations. FHWA, MoDOT, or both may initiate process reviews and program evaluations of any aspect of the FAHP.

    The following techniques will be used to provide stewardship of the FAHP:

    1. Program Assessments
      — This technique may take many forms including joint risk assessments, self-assessments, and program assessments. All of these tools are based on the common concepts of identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and the identification and sharing of "best" practices to continually improve the program.
    2. Program Reviews
      — These are in-depth analysis of key program components and the processes employed by MoDOT in managing the program. The reviews are conducted to (1) ensure compliance with Federal and State requirements; (2) identify opportunities for greater efficiencies and improvements to the program; and/or (3) identify exemplary practices. These are also known as program improvement reviews, process reviews, program/product evaluations, or continuous process improvement initiatives.
    3. Program and Project Management
      — This includes the daily stewardship of any aspect of the FAHP including project and program oversight and program and technical assistance. Program/Project management ensures Federal and State program requirements are met while actively seeking opportunities to add value in the course of routine program actions through task forces, committees, or quality improvement teams, and aiding and assisting transportation stakeholders in answering questions on program issues.

    This Agreement does not modify the FHWA's non-Title 23 program oversight and project approval responsibilities for such activities as required under the Clean Air Act; the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and other related environmental laws and statutes; the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970; and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes.

    The ten (10) different program partnering agreements between FHWA and MoDOT program managers describe the agreed upon day-to-day working relationship between the agencies and are an integral part of this Agreement. These agreements are intended to assure open communications, improved cooperation and coordination, help focus resources on priorities, and facilitate efficient use of staff.

    For all programs where MoDOT has assumed the FHWA approval responsibilities, MoDOT will collaborate with FHWA to improve or develop procedures and performance indicators that gauge the effectiveness of the program administration. By assuming the program or project-level responsibilities under 23 USC 106, MoDOT agrees to comply with FHWA-approved standards in accordance with 23 CFR 625.4, 655.603 and related federal regulations and policies. MoDOT will utilize the flexibility allowed by law to design and construct projects. The FHWA shall approve MoDOT standards that expand on, amplify, or amend these standards before they are issued for use.

    In accordance with 23 USC 106, FHWA and MoDOT mutually agree that MoDOT assumes FHWA project approvals primarily in design and construction. Please see Appendix A: Project and Program Action Responsibilities for a detailed listing of the following categories:

    1. All new or reconstruction Interstate projects with an estimated construction cost less than $1,000,000 unless it is a major/unusual bridge.

    2. All non-Interstate National Highway System (NHS) projects unless it is a major or unusual bridge.

    3. All non-NHS projects including Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)

    The above delegated projects are not subject to further FHWA approvals beyond the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Right-of-Way phases, unless it is jointly agreed that FHWA should be involved. However, nothing in this Agreement shall prohibit FHWA from reviewing any projects that have unique features, high-risk elements, unusual circumstances, or if the project is included in a program or process review sampling.

    MoDOT Responsibilities

    MoDOT's approval and oversight responsibilities on all delegated projects approvals are listed in Appendix A: Project and Program Action Responsibilities and shall also, as a minimum, comply with the following:

    1. Comply with all Title 23 and certain non-Title 23, USC Federal-aid program requirements, such as metropolitan and statewide planning, procurement of engineering and design related service contracts, participation by disadvantaged business enterprises, prevailing wage rates, and Buy America, etc.

    2. Assure that right-of-way approval, utility approval, environmental permits issuance, railroad approval and related activities, design approval, design exceptions, PS&E approval, concurrence in award, and construction-related activities are performed in accordance with State policies, practices and standards, and in accordance with all requirements of Title 23, USC.

    3. Provide sufficient oversight to ensure projects or programs that are developed and administered by local agencies comply with Federal-aid requirements.

    FHWA Responsibilities
    For all projects or programs, FHWA retains authority for many actions and approvals. Some examples, but not limited to, are the following actions and approvals:

    1. Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning specified in 23 USC 134 and 135.
    2. Federal air quality conformity determinations required by the Clean Air Act.
    3. Federal-aid project agreement (PR-2).
    4. Waivers to Buy America requirements.
    5. Special Experimental Project -14 / Special Experimental Project -15 methods.
    6. Civil Rights program approvals.
    7. NEPA approvals.
    8. Addition or modification of access points on the Interstate System.
    9. Use of Interstate airspace for non-highway-related purposes.
    10. Hardship acquisition and protective buying.
    11. Disposal of federally purchased Right-of-Way on the Interstate.
    12. Final vouchers.

    FHWA retain full oversight for the following Federal-aid project categories:

    1. All projects on the Interstate System over $1 million regardless of project type including ITS
    2. All bridges over the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers and all unusual bridges on the NHS with a single span length over 500 feet.

    Please go back to the main oversight page for a detailed listing of the program areas.

    However, based upon risk assessment, FHWA and MoDOT will develop a procedure to determine types of projects that can be classified as programmatic exclusion. Minimal FHWA involvement will be required on these full oversight projects. The programmatic exclusion projects, as a minimum, will be selected based upon project types, complexity, contract amount, etc.

    Effective Date: This effective date of this letter of oversight agreement is February 2, 2007. This supersedes previously approved documents concerning FHWA project oversight.

Addendum I

This addendum modifies the 2007 Stewardship / Oversight Agreement of the Federal-aid Highway Program (FAHP) Between the Federal Highway Administration Missouri Division Office (FHWA) and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)

WHEREAS, the FHWA has the responsibility for administering Federal requirements with respect to all projects constructed with funds made available under title 23, United States Code, including responsibilities relating to design, plans, specifications, estimates, contract awards, contract administration, and inspections;

WHEREAS, there are some projects on the Interstate System that are routine and inherently low risk that are generally non-controversial and in which the State DOTs have a high-level of experience and documented procedures and processes in place for ensuring compliance with federal requirements;

WHEREAS, it is mutually desirable to both the FHWA and MoDOT to streamline the approval process of these routine and inherently low risk projects;

WHEREAS, 23 U.S.C. 106(c)(4) provides that the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation may not assume any greater responsibility than the Secretary is permitted on September 30, 1997;

WHEREAS, on September 30, 1997, 23 U.S.C. 106(b) permitted the States to approve, on a project-by-project basis, plans, specifications, and estimates for projects to resurface, restore, and rehabilitate highways on the National Highway System (NHS), and further permitted the States to request that the Secretary no longer review and approve highway projects on the NHS with an estimated construction cost of less than $1,000,000;

NOW THEREFORE, the FHWA and MoDOT hereby agree as follows:

  1. Inherently low risk oversight projects include those that are routine, low risk projects and generally non-controversial in which the State DOTs have 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 satisfy design standards, and would not jeopardize the safety or operation of the Interstate System. Complex projects that are classified as "major projects," or involve new partners (public/private partnerships), or involve new, innovative contracting methods including Alternate Technical Concepts, or are viewed as high risk, are not considered inherently low risk oversight projects. For purposes of this agreement, inherently low risk oversight projects include all Interstate projects over $5,000,000 that do not include complex or unique features as indicated in this paragraph.
  2. For the projects listed in paragraph 1, FHWA is granting its approval, in advance of the actual delivery of the projects, for these projects' designs, plans, specifications, estimates, contract awards, contract administration, and inspections. These advance approvals are not deemed to occur until after the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and the satisfaction of other related environmental laws and procedures.
  3. For the projects listed in paragraph 1, FHWA's oversight will be satisfied by a risk management framework 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 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.
  4. National Highway System projects over $20,000,000 shall be Full Oversight projects.
  5. Projects whose primary purpose is the installation or maintenance of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) equipment are considered inherently low risk and oversight delegated to MoDOT.
  6. Bridge projects requiring Full Oversight will include:
    1. Interstate routes when:
      1. The project cost is over $5,000,000, or
      2. The bridge has any span length of 500 feet or more, regardless of total bridge length, or
      3. The bridge has unusual features such as cable stayed, precast segmental construction, or suspension spans.
    2. NHS routes when:
      1. Project cost over $20,000,000, or
      2. The bridge has unusual features such as cable stayed, precast segmental construction, or suspension spans.

Notwithstanding this programmatic agreement, FHWA still continues to retain overall responsibility for all aspects of Federal-aid programs and, as such, shall be granted full access to review any aspect or record of a Federal-aid project at any time.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, the parties hereto have caused this instrument to be duly executed, the day and year first written above.



/s/ original signed Kevin Keith 1/13/11





Division Administrator
/s/ original signed Kevin Ward 1/13/11

Page last modified on May 22, 2014.
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