Section 3: Highway Bridge Program

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The Highway Bridge Program (HBP or Category 6 ON/OFF) is a safety program and is one of the fiscally constrained funding programs outlined in the UTP under Category 6: Structure Replacement and Rehabilitation. The purpose of the Highway Bridge Program is to replace or rehabilitate existing on- and off-system structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges located on public highways, roads, and streets.

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Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Highway Bridge Program, (HBP or Category 6 ON/OFF), a proposed project must be consistent with the intent and purpose of the program as covered in the overview of this section. Existing bridges to be remedied under the program must be classified as deficient (structurally deficient or functionally obsolete). Collectively, bridges that are classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete are simply referred to as being “deficient.” For a deficient-classified bridge, a sufficiency rating then determines if a bridge is eligible for rehabilitation or replacement. The interval of time, generally 10 years, since a structure’s construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation, and the type of structure also aid in determining a structure’s eligibility. The following points further discuss eligibility requirements as well as work considered to be ineligible.

Bridges eligible for HBP funds must meet the following requirements:

Allowable funding for HBP bridge replacement and rehabilitation projects is limited to the following Bridge Division directives:

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  • Eligible structure costs that are broken out separately for bridges in the project estimate. Bridge costs are the structural items (mostly Texas Standard Specifications 400 Items) listed separately for bridges in the project estimate. The approach roadway is the actual approach roadway called for in the plans.
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  • The entire project funding is approved, excluding items not eligible for federal funding, for bridges with 150-ft.-or-less average approach roadways (300 ft. total) or if the ratio of roadway to bridge costs is no more than 25% using the following equation.
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  • The following formula applies to bridges with more than 150-ft. approach roadways (300 ft. total): {[(Bridge Costs + Detour Costs) x 1.25] + (Mobilization + SW3P + Traffic Handling and Barricades + Removal of the Old Structure + Approach Rail + Bridge Approach Slabs)}, not to exceed [(Bridge Costs) x 2].
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    • On-System projects with approach roadway costs greater than 300 ft. are limited to no more than 25% of bridge costs plus detour costs, but not greater than 2 times the bridge cost. A secondary funding source will be needed to cover the additional ineligible costs.
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    • Off-System projects with approach roadway costs greater than 300 ft. are generally limited to no more that 25% of the bridge costs plus detour costs. Projects that exceed this 25% cost must be accompanied by a written justification, which must be approved by Bridge Division prior to the project letting. The owner of the bridge (i.e., the local governmental entity) may be responsible for funding 100% of the costs exceeding the allowable 25% bridge costs plus detour costs.
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  • Detour costs used in this formula may be based on either actual or theoretical costs. If a bridge is built on an alternate alignment to facilitate phased construction, then a theoretical cost for a detour that would have otherwise been required may be included in the calculation. The Bridge Division must approve the design and extent of any actual or theoretical detour for Category 6 ON/OFF funding before acquisition of right-of-way or other expenditure contingent on detour approval.
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  • At least 50% of the funds are dedicated to bridge costs alone.
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  • Funding limitations are based on the project estimate submitted with the final PS&E package sent to the Bridge Division before letting. Any funding over the eligible Category 6 ON/OFF funding limit required for the project must come from other available funding categories.

In special circumstances, roadway costs over the eligible Category 6 ON/OFF funding limit required for the project are considered for Category 6 ON/OFF funding if they have no other category of funding available. Funding justifications must be submitted and approved by the Bridge Division.

Outcome of Project. Replacement or rehabilitation projects under the HBP should result in the removal of the bridge’s deficiency classification. Exceptions to this requirement are off-system historic structures that meet the guidelines of the Historic Bridge Manual, or projects with approved design exceptions. See the Chapter 3 of this manual for more information about design exceptions.

Disposition/Use of Existing Bridge. Whenever a deficient bridge is replaced or its deficiency otherwise alleviated through the use of HBP funds, the bridge should either be dismantled or demolished or its use limited to the type and volume of traffic that the structure can safely service over its remaining life.

Bridges replaced with federal funds that are identified as historically significant may be preserved for adaptive reuse with federal fund participation up to the estimated demolition cost. See the Historic Bridge Manual for additional information.

Ineligible Work. The costs of long approach fills, causeways, connecting roadways, interchanges, ramps, and other extensive earth structures, when constructed beyond the attainable touchdown point, are not eligible under the HBP.

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Statewide Prioritization and Programming

Safety is TxDOT's main focus in prioritizing projects, including bridge projects being considered for replacement or rehabilitation using HBP funds. Structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges are prioritized for the program in order of lowest to highest sufficiency rating.

Each year, the Bridge Division reviews the list of programmed bridges using HBP funds and coordinates with Districts and the Financial Management Division to verify the projects are programmed within the 24-month letting schedule as well as the projects in plan development. The Bridge Division also develops a list of eligible bridges for the districts to review and submit for consideration for HBP funds. The Bridge Division prioritizes the newly submitted bridges and ranks them according to their deficiency status: from lowest to highest sufficiency rating, favoring SD over FO deficiencies. Bridges are selected in this order until funding is exhausted within the year(s) that have available funding. Bridges not selected for a requested fiscal year due to funding limits being reached, are added to the following year for consideration and prioritized until funds are exhausted. This process is repeated for each year of the five-year HBP program listing until funds for all fiscal programming years have been exhausted.

Districts are given the opportunity to request special-consideration projects for any of the project development years. Due to the funding constraints, however, Districts should be prepared to delay one or more of their previously approved projects in that fiscal year.

Funding not used in the current fiscal year is rolled over to the next fiscal year (subject to Transportation Commission approval), however, the goal is to use all of the available funding to ensure deficient bridges are replaced as soon as possible and to assist the department in meeting its goals and priorities. To accomplish this, the Bridge Division encourages bridge projects selected within the first four years be developed and RTL within the first two years of the program. This allows projects to be moved into the current fiscal year and be let for construction should another project be delayed. The Bridge Division's goals are to use all of the funding for each year of the program and to reduce the number of deficient structures in the state.

Anchor: #i1043213Table 2-1: Highway Bridge Program Selection Process Schedule

Program Time


Time Frame

Action Items

List Development


1 month

BRG develops lists of all eligible HBP projects.

Program Call


1 month

Districts select new candidates and update current estimates and lettings.

Project Selection


1 month

BRG develops list of District candidate projects in order of Sufficiency Ratings.

Selection Comments and Special Considerations


2 weeks

Districts comment on selections and propose special considerations.

Special Consideration Administration Approval


2 weeks

BRG selects special considerations and sends to Admin for approval.

Program Call Finalized

December - January

1.5 months

BRG prepares final call list with special considerations and submits to Admin for approval.

Final list sent to FIN


End of month

BRG sends final HBP list to FIN.

DCIS Updates


1 month

Districts submit DCIS changes and build new CSJs.

Develop PS&E

Submit package 3 months pre-letting

9-24 months

District begins survey, permitting, and layout development. BRG review required.

Bridge Plans

Begin design no later than 6 months pre-letting.

Minimum 3 months

Bridge plans developed by District, Consultant, or BRG. BRG review required.

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Administration of Off-System Highway Bridge Program Projects

When planning involves an off-system bridge project, particularly those under the Highway Bridge Program, coordination with the local government is essential.

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  • Prior to a project gaining CONSTRUCT authorization, the appropriate local government should be contacted, and its interest in participating in the project established.
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  • If the local government expresses interest in the project and the project has CONSTRUCT authorization, an appropriate Advance Funding Agreement (AFA) must be executed between the state and local government before any work, either preliminary engineering or construction, can be performed. In addition to specifying the responsibilities of the parties in the performance and funding of the work, the agreement defines the contributions of the local government for its share of the project funding responsibilities. Local government contributions must be defined in the AFA, and may be in the form of advance payments (escrow payments) or work performed under the Participation Waived/Equivalent-Match Project Program (PWP/EMP). The PWP/EMP is described in more detail at the end of this section. Questions about the standard agreement form should be directed to the appropriate Bridge Division project manager.
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  • Funding is typically 80-10-10, federal-state-local, with the local match fund participation requirement based on the estimate of project costs made at the time of the agreement’s or its amendment’s execution.
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  • For Category 6 OFF projects that are not yet CONSTRUCT-authorized, exercise judgment in communicating with the local government. Avoid expectations of imminent project construction. A project must be CONSTRUCT-authorized to be let for construction. A project cannot be let until a local government either remits escrow payments for its required participation in the project or provides a written agreement on how it will meet its participation requirement.
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  • The usual 10% participation of the local government may be adjusted where the project is located within a county that meets the statutory definition of being an “economically disadvantaged county” (EDC). Such adjustments of local government participation due to EDC classification are based on applications submitted by the local government through the district office, to the Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP). Information on the newest EDC program list is located on TPP’s web page,
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  • The local match requirement for off-system bridge program projects may be waived by participation in the PWP/EMP. For participation in the program to be considered, the local government must agree to use local funds to perform structural or other safety improvement work on other load-carrying deficient bridges or cross-drainage structures in its jurisdiction. Such work must have a dollar value at least equivalent to the required local match participation or local participation as adjusted under the EDC provision.

The PWP/EMP requirements defined in 43 TAC Section 15.55(d) must be fully met in initiating and processing such a waiver. Adhere to the following sequence of events for inviting, reviewing and approving the waiver on an authorized federal off-system bridge program project:

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  • The District notifies the Local Government of the availability of waivers subject to specified conditions and invites submittal of requests.
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  • The Local Government makes such a request.
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  • The District receives and considers the completed request for waiver from the Local Government according to requirements of 43 TAC Section 15.55(d).
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  • If the request for waiver meets all requirements and approval is appropriate, the District advises the Local Government in writing of approval.
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  • If the request for waiver does not meet all requirements of 43 TAC Section 15.55(d) or approval is otherwise not appropriate, the district informs the Local Government, stating the reason(s) for disapproval of the waiver request.
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  • Execute an appropriate agreement for the project.
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  • The District keeps a file of all correspondence and documentation pertaining to the waiver and related equivalent-match project(s). Include in this file the subsequent documentation received from the Local Government pertaining to completion of the equivalent-match project work.
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  • If the district has not been notified by the Local Government that the equivalent-match work has been completed within the specified three-year period, the district inquires as to the status of the work. If it is determined that the work has not been accomplished and no significant progress has or is being made toward such accomplishment, then the five-year period for exclusion of the Local Government from such waivers may be invoked, or an extension requested from the Bridge Division.
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Requests for Remedial Work on Completed Off-System Highway Bridge Program Projects (UTP Category 6 OFF)

During its post-construction service life, all bridges will eventually require maintenance. Thus, one of the provisions of the usual advanced funding agreement executed between the state and local government on these projects states: “After the project has been completed, the local government shall accept full ownership and operate and maintain the facility authorized by the agreement for the benefit of and no charge of toll to the public.”

However, there may be instances where a local government will approach the district requesting repair or other remedial action by TxDOT on a completed off-system bridge project with the local government requesting the remedial action due to poor design or design error.

The presence of design deficiency should be determined by a thorough review of all the pertinent information and facts.

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