Chapter 2: Project Initiation

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Section 1: Introduction

Within the Local Government Projects Policy Manual (LGPP Manual) and the Local Government Project Management Guide (LGPM Guide), transportation projects are grouped in two general types of projects: construction and non-construction. Construction projects involve roads, highways, bridges, building facilities and alternative transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, environmental mitigation, recreational trails, safe-routes-to-school programs, and other projects involving constructed infrastructure. Non-construction projects include planning studies, development of travel demand models, management of a “shared ride” service, “motorist assistance” programs, transportation corridor analyses and other similar projects that do not involve construction activities. The Manual and Guide are organized to reflect the processes used by engineers, planners and managers to develop these projects, and each follows nine phases, beginning with Project Initiation and ending with Project Close-out and Maintenance.

Although the phases are listed in an order somewhat reflective of the timeline followed during project development, elements of some phases may be performed concurrently (such as during Preliminary Engineering and Design, Environmental Compliance, and Right of Way and Utilities). Many phases may relate to both non-construction and construction projects (Project Initiation, Preliminary Engineering and Design, Environmental Compliance, Project Close-out), while others may be specific to either construction or non-construction (see chapters of the same name). Each phase is fully discussed in the specific chapters, and users should review Chapter 1 to get an overview of the tools available.

The first phase in any construction or non-construction project is Project Initiation. This phase of the project includes all of the steps between project identification and the execution of the legal agreement between the local government (LG) and the state, represented in this case by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). By reference in this document, the term transportation project, project or LG project may involve either a construction or non-construction project or program. Later chapters define the types of transportation projects in more detail.

The identification of a transportation project by a LG will involve the definition of the project objectives, the public service objectives, the degree of involvement by the state and federal partners, the ability of and commitment by the LG to manage the project, and additional key decision-making elements. The LG may work with regional transportation agencies, the TxDOT district or area office, a TxDOT division, local stakeholders and others during this process. Once a decision is made to pursue a project, the partnership with TxDOT must be defined and the project moves into Planning and Programming. Eventually the Project Initiation phase will end with the development and execution of an Advance Funding Agreement (AFA) between the LG and TxDOT.

The details of this first phase will vary greatly based on the type of project; however, this chapter of the Manual provides an overview of the regulations and policies that guide the funding, contracting and oversight requirements for a LG project.

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