Chapter 3: Non-Construction Projects

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Section 1: Introduction

A non-construction project or program is defined as any transportation-related project or program that does not involve the act or process of building transportation infrastructure. Typical non-construction projects involving the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and a local government (LG) partner are planning studies, development of a travel demand model, management of a “shared ride” service, a “motorist assistance” program, a transportation corridor analysis, etc. Chapter 3 of this Local Government Projects Policy Manual (LGPP Manual) provides the state and federal laws and policies that must be followed during a non-construction project. The companion chapter of the Local Government Project Management Guide (LGPM Guide) provides the required practices that should be used by an LG during management of the project and the related procedures used by TxDOT to provide oversight of the project.

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Advance Funding Agreement

The advance funding agreement (AFA) for non-construction projects (AFA Non-CST) is a standard agreement for local projects not involving construction. It is primarily used for some Congestion Mitigation Air Quality projects, but there are also other projects where the use of an AFA Non-CST will be applicable, especially some Surface Transportation Program – Metropolitan Mobility projects. Examples include, but are not limited to van pool programs, diesel emissions programs and public information campaigns. For the purposes of this LGPP Manual, all agreements are referred to as an AFA.

The AFA is executed between TxDOT and the LG. For many types of non-construction projects or programs, the TxDOT district typically serves as the primary point of contact with the LG and provides oversight of the project or program. For these projects/programs, the AFA is executed between TxDOT and the LG [not a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) or rural planning organization (RPO)]. In many of these non-construction projects, the MPO performs the project selection process.

For non-construction projects or programs when the MPO or RPO is filling the role of the LG, the TxDOT Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP) will typically serve as the primary point of contact with the LG and will provide oversight of the project or program. For these projects/programs, the AFA is executed between the MPO/RPO and TxDOT. In this situation, the local TxDOT district will frequently provide project support through technical expertise and other resources.

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Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

Each year, MPOs advertise potential funding opportunities for non-construction projects. The MPO will gather submittals for proposed projects from the LGs within its boundaries, evaluate the candidate projects, select approved projects and submit those projects to TxDOT, which are then incorporated into a Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) (see Chapter 2 – Project Initiation). Once TxDOT develops and submits the STIP for approval, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approve the STIP, the sponsor LG and the district will develop and execute the AFA for a particular project.

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State Letter of Authority

As discussed in detail in Chapter 2 – Project Initiation, the State Letter of Authority (SLOA) is a form that must be issued on all projects whether the work is performed by the LG or contracted out to a third party. For non-construction projects, the SLOA is frequently issued in the form of a Notice to Proceed issued by TxDOT to the LG.

For projects not involving federal funds, the request from the LG and issuance of a SLOA from TxDOT is required prior to initiation of work on the project. A Federal Project Authorization and Agreement (FPAA) is required in addition to the SLOA for all federally funded projects. The primary function of this form is to obligate federal funds for the project. By completion of the FPAA form, federal funds are authorized through an agreement between FHWA and TxDOT for reimbursement of the approved costs. For projects involving federal funds, TxDOT initiates the SLOA and submits the required project information to FHWA for approval. Once the project is approved as eligible for federal reimbursement by FHWA, TxDOT generates the FPAA and may issue the SLOA to the LG.

Chapter 2 – Project Initiation and the LGPM Guide describe in more detail the procedures, information and responsibilities associated with requesting and obtaining an SLOA, as well as an FPAA, as applicable.

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