Chapter 6: Letting

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Section 1: Final Processing and Letting

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This section describes the process of reviewing the completed PS&E package, including supporting documents, before TxDOT takes construction bids (letting). The process described is used for the design-bid-build (DBB) method of project delivery. The Design Division has primary responsibility for reviewing and processing the PS&E up to letting. Divisions with secondary responsibility include Traffic Operations, Construction, and General Services. FHWA may also be involved in reviewing PS&E for projects having FHWA oversight.

The final review of some minor, state-funded projects is delegated to the districts. For projects where the district has accepted responsibility for final review, no division review will be performed.

For division review projects, multiple copies of the PS&E and supporting documents are submitted to the Design Division generally several months before letting. The Design Division distributes the PS&E package to the different offices involved in the review. The review generally involves the following tasks:

  • checking to ensure the project is authorized for letting
  • reviewing plans for consistency with approved design standards and criteria
  • checking for completeness of plans
  • checking for compliance with applicable rules and regulations
  • ensuring that funding is allocated
  • ensuring that other legal requirements are met to satisfy the letting process

This section includes the following tasks. The tasks are listed in approximate chronological order but some tasks may be performed concurrently.

6000. Perform financial clearance analysis

6010. Prepare and review draft proposal

6030. Obtain funding and approval of PS&E

6100. Release final proposal

6130. Advertise request for bids

6133. Provide earthwork construction cross section data to contractors (if requested)

6135. Amend issued proposal documents

6140. Conduct pre-bid conference

6150. Conduct bid opening

6200. Tabulate and review bids

5860. Collect outside, additional funding based on advance funding agreements

6210. Award contract

6230. Notify the public in advance of construction

6240. Store and retain project records

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6000: Perform financial clearance analysis

Description. For projects having Advance Funding Agreements (AFAs) (See 1610: Prepare and execute advance funding agreements), a Notice of Financial Clearance: Conditional Project (“notice”) is needed as part of the bid process. The notice is a standardized form available from the General Services Division - Contract Services Section (GSD-CSS).

Projects with outside funds (arranged through AFAs) are conditionally awarded, and contracts are not released until the district indicates all funds are received.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects having Advance Funding Agreements.

Responsible Party. District engineer

Sub-tasks. Procedures for performing the financial clearance analysis are contained in the TxDOT PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 6, Section 4.

Resource Material.

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6010: Prepare and review draft proposal

Description. The draft bidding proposal is a document that includes all the information necessary for bidders to bid a project’s construction work. The proposal does not include construction plan drawings. The proposal document includes the following information:

  • Proposal cover page, indicating number of working days for the project and proposal guaranty amount
  • Bidder’s return check address form (for proposal guaranty)
  • Various certifications
  • Notice to bidders (general information found in project advertisement)
  • Bid inserts (forms on which bidders submit their itemized bid)
  • General notes
  • Specifications list (does not include specifications descriptions)
  • Special provisions
  • Special specifications (non-standard project specifications)
  • Wage rates (minimum wage rates allowed by labor category)

The draft of proposal documents is commonly referred to as the proposal “check copy” and is necessary for internal review before issuing the proposal.

For division review projects, the Design Division will send several check copies to the district for review. The district is responsible for reviewing the check copy for completeness and conformity between the plans and proposal. The district should pay close attention that the following items are included:

  • Notification of any pre-bid meeting contains correct information.
  • Number of working days is shown on the proposal.
  • Proposal guaranty amount is correct.
  • Bid inserts match with the estimate and quantity sheet.
  • All project items are included in the specification list.
  • All applicable special provisions.
  • All applicable special specifications.
  • Current wage rates that cover the appropriate county.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party.

  • For preparing the proposal:
    • the Design Division or Traffic Operations Division is responsible for division review projects
    • the district design engineer is responsible for district review projects. (See the PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 4, for PS&E Checklist for District Review Projects)
  • For reviewing the proposal, the district design engineer is responsible.

Critical Sequencing. The district must review and comment on the draft proposal quickly to ensure any necessary changes are made before releasing the proposal to prospective bidders.

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6030: Obtain funding and approval of PS&E

Description. Before advertising for construction bids, the PS&E must be approved by the responsible office. Approval signifies that plans were checked and all federal and state requirements have been met. PS&E is approved, and funding is secured (federal-aid projects only), as shown in the table below:

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Project Type

Approval by


Responsible Division (DES, BRG, or TRF) signs State LOA.

Federal Funds with State oversight

TxDOT Finance Division - Letting Management Section and FHWA sign FPAA.

Responsible Division (DES, BRG, or TRF) signs State LOA

Federal Funds with Federal (FHWA) oversight

Responsible Division (DES, BRG, or TRF) and FHWA sign FPAA

The following documents are used in securing federal funds for projects and in approving the PS&E to proceed to letting:

  • Federal Project Authorization & Agreement (FPAA)
  • State Letter of Authority (State LOA)

The function of the FPAA is as follows:

  • obligate federal funds for a project’s preliminary engineering, construction, right of way, or combination thereof.
  • clear the project to proceed to advertising for letting or begin force account labor.

The State LOA documents that the following have been addressed:

  • status of right of way and utility clearance, and necessary permits.
  • project has environmental clearance.
  • design aspects meet project requirements.
  • design/agreement/permit conditions placed on project letting and/or award.
  • clearance of the project to proceed to advertising for letting or begin force account labor.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party.

  • Finance Division assures that FPAA and State LOA are secured for projects let by TxDOT.
  • District coordinates with responsible division and assures that FPAA and State LOA are obtained from the responsible division for federal-aid force account projects and projects let by local entities.
  • District engineer assures compliance with State laws, policies, and procedures on district review projects by signing the PS&E title sheet.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • If an FPAA is received to authorize funds for preliminary engineering, another FPAA and State LOA must be obtained for construction, as described above.
  • PS&E revisions or addenda on federal oversight projects must be sent to the responsible division for coordination with FHWA before letting.

Critical Sequencing.

  • This task should be completed after the responsible office(s) completes PS&E review.
  • This task must be completed before advertising the project for bids or starting force account work.
  • The FPAA must be signed by the FHWA before costs are incurred. Costs incurred before the FHWA signs the FPAA will not be eligible for Federal reimbursement.
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6100: Release final proposal

Description. For division review projects, the district notifies the Design Division or Traffic Operations Division of any changes to the draft proposal before release to contractors. Once these revisions are made, the final proposal is built by the Design Division or Traffic Operations Division and released to the Construction Division.

For district review projects, the final proposal is built by the Design Division and released when the PS&E is received by the Design Division.

The Construction Division begins to issue the bid documents after final revisions are complete and three weeks before letting. Prospective bidders, and other interested parties may request proposals from the Construction Division.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party.

  • Design Division or Traffic Operations Division
  • Construction Division is responsible for distributing final proposals

Helpful Suggestions.

  • If revisions are extensive or if the project is a district review project, district personnel will generally be required to submit the revisions to the Design, Bridge or Traffic Operations Division.
  • If revisions are minor, Design, Bridge or Traffic Operations Division personnel might be able to make the revisions.
  • The district or area engineer offices must not distribute proposal copies under any circumstances. The Construction Division issues all bid proposals to bidders and informational proposals requested by suppliers, subcontractors, or others.
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6130: Advertise request for bids

Description. The department shall publish notice of the time and place at which bids on contracts will be opened and the contract awarded. The Finance Division performs the following task:

TxDOT personnel retain the option of using newspaper advertisements where they deem appropriate.

Pertinent Project Types. All construction and maintenance projects.

Responsible Party.

  • Finance Division is responsible for validating construction projects for advertising on CMCS
  • District maintenance personnel are responsible for validating local let maintenance projects for advertising on CMCS
  • Maintenance Division personnel are responsible for validating state let maintenance projects for advertising on CMCS

Authority Requirements.

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6133: Provide earthwork construction cross section data to contractors (if requested)

Description. Contractor access to construction cross section data in electronic format allows the contractor to prepare more accurate and concise bids, particularly on projects with significant earthwork items. Construction cross section data typically includes the following information:

  • Cross section baseline (horizontal alignment data);
  • Original ground cross sections; and
  • Proposed design cross sections.

Upon contractor request, district or area offices should provide earthwork construction cross section data to the requestor for bid preparation. This information should be in ASCII format (plain text file) and made available prior to letting at no cost. In addition, cross section plots in a PDF format should be provided upon request, and a hard copy should be made available to contractors for the purpose of making copies at the contractor’s expense. Consultant engineering firms involved in TxDOT design projects should include this data as part of their deliverable to the district.

The following disclaimer must be included in the transmittal of the cross section data:

The following data is for non-construction purposes only.

It is the responsibility of prospective bidder to validate the data.

Texas Department of Transportation

If construction cross section data is provided directly in the plans, that data should also be clearly labeled for information purposes only.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects with earthwork construction cross section data.

Responsible Party. District or Area Office.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • TxDOT has developed procedures for the creation of this data using GEOPAK Road software. This procedure also instructs the user on how to properly place the disclaimer in the content of the data files. Refer to the GEOPAK II Training manual or contact the Technical Services Division design support team at 512-302-2350 for technical assistance.
  • Contact your Field Coordination Engineer in the Design division for procedural assistance.

Critical Sequencing. Cross section data must be provided upon request, and in a timely manner so the contract can prepare an accurate bid on the project.

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6135: Amend issued proposal document

Description. Occasionally it may become necessary to amend the proposal or plans after they are released to prospective bidders. If amendments are needed, the district coordinates changes with the Design Division or Traffic Operations Division. The Construction Division also notifies all parties who previously received the original documents of the changes and forwards amended documents to them. All amendments to the contract must be processed officially and should never be handled verbally. Contractors must not be given additional information not contained in the bidding documents to ensure that all prospective bidders receive identical information.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Construction Division

Helpful Suggestions.

  • After final bid proposal preparation, the district must submit any amendments to the Design Division or Traffic Operations Division- preferably, in writing.
  • During the time that amendments are being made, the contract documents are withdrawn from availability to the contracting community. This shortens the time that plans are available to prospective bidders for examination.
  • Amendments result in prospective bidders having to re-evaluate their bid prices. Therefore, any large amendments should be made as early as possible.
  • Very minor amendments to the contract, which are not anticipated to impact bid prices, should not be made unless combined with other essential changes.
  • Refer to the TxDOT PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 7 for more information.

Critical Sequencing. Completed changes must be received by the deadlines shown in the PS&E Processing Schedule, http://crossroads/org/des/lmo/pse.asp to maintain the letting schedule.

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6140: Conduct pre-bid conference

Description. Pre-bid conferences are used to present a general review of the completed plans and specifications plus a detailed review of the project’s special requirements. Pre-bid conferences are not recommended unless determined necessary to convey special or unique project requirements, such as new construction techniques, materials, or complex construction sequencing. No additional project requirements may be added at a pre-bid conference. Bid documents must stand on their own so that all bidders are using the same information.

A pre-bid conference may require either mandatory (determined mandatory by a district), or optional attendance by bidders as a condition of their bids. This will be stated in the Notice to Bidders and the bid advertisement. Mandatory attendance is usually reserved for highly complex projects and requires approval by the Director of the Design Division. Whether mandatory or optional, the area engineer is responsible for preparing meeting minutes for distribution to bidders. The person responsible for holding the conference must give the Construction Division a list of bidders attending a mandatory conference on the same day as the conference.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. District area engineer

Helpful Suggestions.

  • Hold a pre-bid conference about two weeks before letting, if possible.
  • A minimum of seven days are required between the conference and bid opening dates. If the conference is scheduled this close to the bid opening date, questions posed by contractors at the meeting will not be able to be answered with the appropriate addendum
  • Never give the engineer’s estimate to the contracting community.

Resource Material. TxDOT PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 6, Section 5

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6150: Conduct bid opening

Description. Bid openings are held in Austin and are conducted by Construction Division personnel. All conditions of bid acceptance must be reviewed at the opening of each bid. These conditions include any of the following:

  • mandatory pre-bid conference attendance (See 6140: Conduct pre-bid conference)
  • acknowledgement of receipt of addenda
  • proper presentation of bids
  • proposal guaranty check, etc.

Bid totals are announced at bid opening.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Construction Division

Authority Requirements. 23 CFR Part 635

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6200: Tabulate and review bids

Description. After the bid opening, the Construction Division tabulates and reviews the bids as follows:

  • checks bids to see if they are mathematically or materially unbalanced or incorrect.
  • A mathematically unbalanced bid is one that contains lump sum or unit bid items which do not reflect reasonable actual costs plus a reasonable, proportionate share of the bidder’s anticipated profit, overhead costs, and other indirect costs. The Transportation Commission may still award these projects.

  • A materially unbalanced bid is one that generates reasonable doubt that a mathematically unbalanced bid will result in the lowest, ultimate cost to the State. The Texas Transportation Commission must reject a materially unbalanced bid. Materially unbalanced bids generally result from two situations:

    • There is an error in quantities (too low) and the contractor bids a high price on these items. In this case, the apparent low bidder might not be the actual low bidder once the quantity error is corrected.
    • The contractor’s bid prices are high on items of work occurring early in the project. In this case, the apparent low bidder might not be the actual low bidder when the State’s financial loss of potential interest income is calculated.
  • checks to ensure that conditions for bid acceptance are met.
  • tabulates bids in increasing amounts.
  • verifies the low bidder.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Construction Division

Authority Requirements. 43 TAC §§ 9.15 – 9.17

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6210: Award contract

Description. Construction contracts let by the State require award by the Texas Transportation Commission (the “Commission”) before execution of the contract. The Construction Division makes a contract award recommendation to the Commission after all bids are tabulated and reviewed, and after all letting and procedural requirements are checked. Federal-aid projects require FHWA concurrence in award.

If a local entity is involved in funding a portion of a project, their concurrence is also required if the project overruns the cost estimate.

For projects let by local entities, concurrence in award must be obtained from TxDOT before the local entity awards the project; the Commission delegated this concurrence authority to the Assistant Executive Director for Engineering Operations. Also, engineer’s estimates and bid tabulations should be submitted to the Design Division for review and coordination with the Construction Division to obtain concurrence in awarding the project. Refer to Local Government Project Procedures (LGPP) modules at for more information.

Cost overrun justification memorandums must be prepared for all projects when either of the following situations occurs:

  • The low bid is 20 percent or more over the engineer’s estimate
  • or, there is only one bidder, and the bid is 10 percent or more over the engineer’s estimate.

Concurrence from an MPO must be obtained for cost overruns on projects selected by the MPO in compliance with the MPO’s policy.

Letting overrun justification memos are prepared by the district for district review projects and by the Design Division with input from the district for division review projects. The Commission officially accepts or rejects bids at their monthly meetings. The General Services Division notifies successful bidders of the contract award.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party.

  • For contract award recommendation and concurrence: Construction Division
  • For cost overrun justification for district review projects: District
  • For cost overrun justification for division review projects: Design Division or Traffic Operations Division

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material. See the PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 7 for information on award of local let projects.

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6230: Notify the public in advance of construction

Description. The district public information office may provide public notices before construction. Notices may include press releases to various media types, roadway signs, or notices posted on the Internet.

Depending on project size, give public notices far enough in advance of construction so that motorists can adjust their travel plans accordingly.

To provide accurate public notices, the district public information officer should obtain project information from the project manager, area engineer, or the director of transportation planning and development.

Pertinent Project Types. Major projects that may affect normal traffic patterns.

Responsible Party. District public information officer


  • Identify projects that merit public notice.
  • Notify elected officials before beginning construction.
  • Prepare and distribute press releases or other notices (e.g., Internet information).

Authority Requirements. TxDOT Administrative Circular No. 25-93; 10/11/93; “Notification to Legislators”; from Bill Burnett; to Administration, Division Directors, and District Engineers

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6240: Store and retain project records

Description. Project records, including plans, specifications, and estimates must be retained for minimum periods of time according to provisions of TxDOT’s Communications Manual, Records Management Volume - Chapter 3, Records Retention Schedule. Other requirements may apply, such as those in TxDOT’s Contract Management Manual. Most records must be retained for at least three years - some for at least ten years. Refer to the Communications Manual, Records Management Volume for more information. Design waivers and design exception justifications should be retained permanently.

The Communications Manual also describes storage techniques. Give careful attention to this matter. For example, vital (essential) records must not be stored in a basement; basements may collect water from efforts to extinguish fires, and flooding is an obvious danger.

Once the retention period is complete, records may be destroyed. Destruction of records must be performed according to provisions of the TxDOT Communications Manual.

Questions on records may be directed to the Records Management Unit of the General Services Division.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. For storing and retaining records:

  • Project manager
  • District, division, and special office records coordinator – a TxDOT employee who coordinates and implements TxDOT’s record management program within a specific department office.
  • District, division, and special offices records administrator - a senior staff-level representative who administers TxDOT’s records management program within a specific department office.
  • TxDOT records manager – A records manager has overall responsibility for records management in TxDOT and is also designated by TxDOT’s executive director as the TxDOT records administrator for the purposes of coordinating TxDOT’s records management program with external agencies.

The responsible parties for destroying records are:

  • State auditor
  • State librarian
  • TxDOT executive director or agency records administrator, if designated by executive director

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material.

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