Chapter 2: Bridge Programming and Funding

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Section 1: Bridge Division’s Role

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Overview

Bridge work administered by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) includes projects for construction of new bridges and replacement, rehabilitation, repair, and maintenance of existing bridges on the public highways, roads, and streets.

TxDOT operates under the definition of “bridge” as provided in Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 650.403(a). The CFR definition of a bridge is:

... a structure including supports erected over a depression or an obstruction, such as water, high-way or railway, and having a track or passageway for carrying traffic or other moving loads, and having an opening measured along the center of the roadway of more than 20 feet between undercopings of abutments or spring lines of arches, or extreme ends of openings for multiple boxes; it may also include multiple pipes where the clear distance between openings is less than half of the smaller contiguous opening.

The CFR definition of a bridge includes multiple pipe structures. However, because multiple pipe structures are usually subject only to gradual and very localized collapse, TxDOT normally does not inventory or include such structures in the Bridge Inspection Database or address them under the Highway Bridge Program (HBP) unless the multiple pipes are 60 inches or more in diameter and where the clear distance between openings is less than half the smallest pipe diameter.

The public highways, roads, and streets may either be on- or off-system. On-system routes are on the designated state highway system, while off-system routes are not part of the designated state highway system and are under the direct jurisdiction of a local government. A local government may be a county, city, other political subdivision of the state, or special district that has the authority to finance a highway improvement project.

On-system bridge projects are typically funded with a combination of federal-state funds or 100% state funds, while off-system bridge projects administered by TxDOT are typically funded with a combination of federal-state-local, federal-state, and federal-local funds.

The Texas Transportation Commission (Commission) and TxDOT use the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) as TxDOT’s ten-year plan for transportation project development and construction. The UTP is updated annually in accordance with the Texas Administrative Code (TAC §16.105) and is approved by the Commission annually prior to August 31. The UTP authorizes projects for construction, development and planning activities and includes projects involving highways, aviation, public transportation, and state and coastal waterways. The UTP provides a listing of projects and programs that may be delivered from available forecasted funding over the next 10 years. Categories in the UTP incorporate the various programs outlined by the current federal highway bill and the state general appropriations act. TxDOT’s Bridge Program, reflected in the UTP as Category 6, Structures Replacement and Rehabilitation, addresses the specific purpose of replacing or rehabilitating structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. The Category 6 funds are distributed based on eligibility criteria and on a statewide basis; therefore, the individual Category 6 projects listed in the UTP may vary. Reasons for this variation include, but are not limited to, changes in a project’s eligibility status or plan development.

Under the new federal highway bill introduced in October 2015, The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, TxDOT’s Bridge Program is supported by the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) and the Surface Transportation Program (STP). However, for all TxDOT-administered construction projects that include bridges, regardless of the UTP funding category, matters of bridge planning, structural design, plan development, and plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E) review are under the purview of the Bridge Division. Additional information on the UTP and funding categories is available at http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/transportation-planning/utp.html and in the Transportation Planning Manual and the Transportation Programming and Scheduling Manual.

The Bridge Division is responsible for the management of Category 6: Structure Replacement and Rehabilitation. Category 6 consists of three funding programs: Highway Bridge Program (HBP), Bridge Maintenance and Improvement Program (BMIP), and Railroad Grade Separation (RGS) Program.

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  • Highway Bridge Program (HBP or Category 6 ON/OFF) is for the rehabilitation or replacement of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges (see Chapter 2, Section 3).
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  • Bridge Maintenance and Improvement Program (BMIP or Category 6 BMN) is to improve physical conditions, not functionality, of on-system bridges by addressing issues affecting structural conditions before deterioration becomes irreversible. The Rail Replacement Program (RRP) is a subprogram to Category 6 BMN, and is used for improving the traffic safety features on bridges and bridge-class culverts (See Chapter 2, Section 4 and 6, respectively).
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  • Railroad Grade Separation Program (RGS or Category 6 RGS) is for the construction of new on-system highway-railroad grade separation structures at existing highway-railroad at-grade crossings or for replacing existing deficient on-system highway underpasses with railroads (see Chapter 2, Section 5).
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