Chapter 5: Bridge Plan Review Processes


Section 1: Preliminary Bridge Layout Review

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Preliminary bridge layout review (PBLR) and approval is required for all bridges, regardless of funding type, before any detail work is performed. The review typically takes two weeks from the date of submittal. The layout is reviewed by the following:

If the bridge is programmed for Category 6 funding, verify that it is eligible for one of the four funding programs listed in Chapter 2 of this manual.

During the final Bridge Cost Information (BCI) review, the Bridge Division project managers verify that all design and funding issues identified during the preliminary bridge layout review have been resolved so that the project can proceed to letting. If the bridge is not eligible for the funding category or is not CONSTRUCT-authorized, the project cannot be let for construction. If there is a design problem requiring redesign of the bridge, the project may need to be pulled from the letting if there is not enough time to correct design issues. Avoid jeopardizing project letting dates by resolving all outstanding issues at the time of the preliminary layout review and not during the PS&E stage.

Refer to the Bridge Detailing Guide for Preliminary Bridge Layout criteria, Completed Bridge Layout criteria, and typical layouts. Complete and submit the Information Sheet for Structural Design (Form 2252) with all preliminary layouts for projects to be designed by the Bridge Division or their consultant pool.

The preliminary bridge layout submittal process is as follows:

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  1. The district bridge engineer must approve preliminary layouts prior to submission.
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  3. The layout is submitted to the Bridge Division’s PS&E Review Branch for approval.
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    1. Email the submittal of PBLR folder link in ProjectWise to
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    3. Email Subject: PBLR, CSJ, County
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  5. The layout is approved when Division review comments are resolved.

Begin work on bridge detail sheets only after receiving final approval of the bridge layouts from the Bridge Division.

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Layout Approval Information

In addition to the requirements shown in the Bridge Detailing Guide, the following information is necessary for layout approval.

Stream Crossings. Submit the scour analysis envelope and calculated scour depth with the preliminary bridge layout.

Bridge Widenings. For bridge widenings, include the following in the layouts:

If stage construction is required, refer to stage construction requirements below.

Stage Construction. Show stage construction geometry and sequence on the bridge layouts, including proposed lane widths and temporary rail locations for each stage. Include existing bridges and foundation locations on the layouts. Use additional sheets if necessary.

Railroad Overpasses/Underpasses. For railroad overpasses or underpasses, submit the preliminary bridge layout to the Bridge Division, and submit Railroad Exhibit A to the Rail Division’s Rail Safety Section (RRD-RSS). Exhibit A includes the preliminary bridge layout and additional plan sheets required to obtain railroad company approval. See “Railroad Exhibit A Submission Requirements” later in this chapter for additional information. The preliminary bridge layout should place emphasis on the following items:

Interchanges and Complex or Unusual Projects. Provide accurate geometric information on the plan and profile for roadways beneath structures for complicated designs such as braided ramps or interchanges. This information is vital to structural design because the types of bents required, such as straddle, single column, offset columns, etc., depend on the geometry of underlying roadways.

Retaining Walls. Preliminary layouts for retaining walls are required when the maximum height exceeds 25 ft. Submit preliminary layouts for walls and slopes undergoing certain types of ground-stability improvement measures for review. Such measures include the following:

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  • Removing and replacing more than 5 ft. of soil.
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  • A requirement for earth reinforcements exceeding 70% of the wall height.
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  • Use of dynamic compaction, wick drains, stone columns, geopiers, surcharging, or other measures to improve ground below walls or embankments.

Include justification in the preliminary submission for ground improvement, including soil testing and analysis leading to the decision to use ground-improvement techniques, as well as analysis of the ground improvement itself.

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Bridge Division Submission Requirements

Submit all structures to be let under a single project as one submittal to ensure uniformity of design and eliminate duplication of standards. Submittal requirements for typical bridge layouts and those involving a railroad are listed below.

The transmittal e-mail from the District to the Bridge Division’s PS&E Review Branch must contain the following information:

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Federal Compliance Submission Requirements

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires TxDOT to submit preliminary structural layouts to FHWA for review and approval as follows.

The Bridge Division submits to the FHWA Texas Division for approval all preliminary structural layouts for all bridges, major geotechnical features and major hydraulic structures on projects for which FHWA has retained oversight. A list of these projects is available from the Design Division.

For all other projects, the FHWA Texas Division and the FHWA Headquarters Office of Bridge Technology approve preliminary documents for unusual bridges and structures, including the following:

Include the following items in the preliminary documents for unusual bridges and structures submitted by TxDOT to FHWA:


Railroad Exhibit A Submission Requirements

If a railroad is involved, Railroad Exhibit A is sent to the railroad company for preliminary review and approval of the bridge project. Railroad Exhibit A is included in the agreement that must be negotiated between TxDOT and the railroad company. The Rail Division’s Rail Safety Section (RRD-RSS) is the sole point of contact and Office of Primary Responsibility for all matters relating to agreements with the railroad companies. They are responsible for the submittal of all Exhibits needed in the execution of the various types of railroad agreements, including Exhibit A drawings for structures. The District office submits Railroad Exhibit A drawings to the RRD-RSS at least 12 months prior to the scheduled contract letting date to allow adequate time for negotiations and processing with the railroad company.

Requirements for the preparation of Railroad Exhibit A, as well as the policy and practices concerning highway-railroad grade separation structures, can be found in the Rail-Highway Operations Manual.

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