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Project Prioritization

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This summary provides tribal decisionmakers and planners with a brief summary of the process for prioritizing transportation projects. It is based on the module Project Prioritization, which is one of twelve modules in the series Transportation Decisionmaking: Information Tools for Tribal Governments produced by the FHWA Office of Planning to educate tribal planners and decisionmakers about the tribal transportation planning process and to provide them with program information.

What is Project Prioritization?

Project prioritization is a method for listing, in order of importance, projects that are critical to the success of the tribal transportation program.

Why is Project Prioritization Important?

Project prioritization is important for three main reasons:

Having a list of prioritized projects will improve communication with the FHWA, State DOT, and the BIA.

Certain Federal laws tie funding allocation to project prioritization. Project prioritization may be one of the criteria to determine if a tribe is eligible for Federal funds.

Creating a prioritized list of projects, which is drawn from and supported in the tribe’s Long Range Transportation Plan, defines the tribe’s transportation needs.

How are Projects Prioritized?

There are five basic steps:

Step 1. Identify projects
This step identifies transportation projects that are important to the tribe.Tribal transportation projects may be found in the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the transportation element of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, and/or any project lists developed by the tribe. This step also requires field work and data collection to update the information for each project.
Step 2. Seek Public Input
This step involves meeting with the tribal community and obtaining their feedback and comments. It helps to determine which projects are most important to the community and why.
Step 3. Develop Criteria and Performance Based Evaluation Methods
During this step, prioritization criteria are applied to the initial list of tribal transportation projects.The projects are then evaluated based on how fully they meet each criterion. This results in a list of projects in order of importance, with the first project being most important, and the last being least important.
Step 4. Report Findings and Seek Consensus
This step involves returning to the community and/or the tribal governing body, and seeking consensus on the prioritization order of the project list.
Step 5. Put it All Together
The final step involves developing a final prioritization list entitled the Tribal Priority List, the Tribal Transportation Improvement Program, or both; submitting this to Tribal Council for approval; and requesting a Tribal Resolution endorsing the Tribal Priority List.The next step is that the Tribal Council (or tribal transportation official) transmits the tribal council resolution and Tribal Priority List to Federal and State agencies to support requests for funding.

How Does Project Prioritization Relate to the Rest of the Modules?

This module is closely aligned with five others: Long Range Transportation Plan, Tribal Transportation Improvement Program, Funding Sources, Financial Planning, and Partnering and Leveraging. Having a prioritized list of projects will increase opportunities for funding and future partnerships.

What are the Training Modules for Tribal Transportation Decisionmaking?

The figure below shows how each of the twelve modules in the series relate to each other:

Each of the training modules is laid out in this graphic of the training module series. At the top of the image is the Introduction to Planning module. Below are three modules, Developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan, Data Collection and Use, and Public Involvement, aligned in a row labeled “planning.” Underneath these modules are two more, Tribal Consultation and Partnering and Leveraging aligned in a row labeled “Tribal Intergovernmental Relations.” Below them are four modules, Developing the Transportation Improvement Program, Funding Resources, Financial Planning, and Project Prioritization, aligned in a row labeled “programming.” In the bottom-most row, labeled “other elements,” are the remaining two modules, Safety and Asset Management. All of the modules are encompassed in a large circle with the rows labeled just outside.


Theresa Hutchins, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (360) 753-9402

Michelle Noch, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (202) 366-9206

Kyle Kitchel, FHWA Western Federal Lands High Division
Phone: (360) 619-7951

Brian Beltyon, FHWA Resource Center
Phone: (410) 962-0086

Additional Resources

Transportation Planning Capacity Building Website:

FHWA Tribal Transportation Planning:

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Updated: 10/20/2015
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