Chapter 1: Planning and Programming

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Section 1: Needs Identification

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Overview

This section discusses the tasks of identifying and documenting the need for a project. The need for a project may be identified in many ways, including suggestions from maintenance supervisors, area engineers, district staff, planning organizations, local elected officials, developers, and the society served by transportation planning and programming. Once a project is suggested, research should be conducted to prioritize the need for one project relative to others competing for limited funds.

This section includes the following tasks listed in chronological order.

10100. Identify project need and scope

10110. Perform site visit

10120. Public safety

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10100: Identify project need and scope

Description. Many factors are considered in determining project need including crash frequency and severity, pavement condition, bridge condition, conformance with current geometric standards, security, trends, issues associated with demand for moving people and goods, resiliency, and the Texas Transportation Plan (TTP) goals and objectives. The need for a project may be identified in the following ways:

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  • Projects may be suggested by maintenance supervisors, area office staff, district staff, local transportation partners, developers, or the society served.
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  • For urban projects, particularly capacity improvements, the need for a project may be determined from traffic modeling of future growth and travel demands. This data may be requested from the Transportation Planning and Programming (TPP) Division Traffic Analysis office or, in some cases, from local government Transportation planners. The project should be evaluated for compliance with planning documents. See 10300: Evaluate compliance with planning documents.
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  • For some specific urban projects, the development process may encompass a need for a sustainable street and transit network associated with the potential project in the context of desired land uses and urban design established in regional plans, comprehensive plans, neighborhood plans, other local plans, special district plans, relevant public-private partnerships or economic development plans. While not shown directly in the Project Development Process, Figure, these plans may indicate that the Needs Identification step should be revisited.
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  • Rural multimodal mobility, safety, and added capacity projects may be identified through local decision makers and stakeholders. Trend analysis and forecasted growth data may be obtained from TPP Traffic Analysis office.
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  • Area Engineers generally determine rehabilitation needs for their areas in consultation with maintenance supervisors and local officials.
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  • Off system projects are generally identified through statewide ranking formulas and through consultation with local officials.
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  • Public meetings may generate comments on area wide transportation needs.
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  • A review of traffic crash information may alert the department to needed improvements.
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  • Needs may be identified through the Pavement Management Information System (PMIS) or the Wet Weather Accident Reduction Program (WWARP).
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  • Studies from adjacent projects may indicate needs in other areas. See Task 10310: Identify and review related studies.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. District staff.

Subtasks.

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  • Gather information on pavement conditions from the district pavement engineer.
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  • Document, in the Purpose and Need Statement, problem information listing deficiencies and opportunities within project influence area.
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  • For bridges, coordinate with bridge planning engineers in the Project Development Section of the Bridge Division.
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  • Review four-year metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) meeting minutes.
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  • Identify community concerns and critical issues. In urban areas, this includes coordinating with the MPO. In some areas, coordination with municipal urban planning organizations, neighborhood land use planning groups, etc. may be appropriate.
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  • In urban areas, evaluate compatibility of the project with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP).
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  • Consider all transportation modes, the need for multimodal alternatives, and intermodal freight transport. See 10440: Identify multimodal alternatives and intermodal connections. Coordinate with other disciplines (e.g. planner, landscape architect).
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  • Consider the economic impacts and goals for freight transportation and freight movement patterns of the Freight Mobility Plan (FMP).
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  • Review existing geometrics and compare to current rehabilitation and reconstruction design criteria.
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  • Consider the need for control of access.
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  • Evaluate conversion of two-way frontage roads to one-way operation. Refer to the Roadway Design Manual, Chapter 3, Section 6: “ Conversion of Frontage Roads from Two-way to One-way Operation.”
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  • Review traffic crash information to identify locations having a high incidence of traffic crashes (relative statewide incidence) for potential projects. Refer to the Highway Safety Improvement Program Manual, “ Obtaining Crash Data” for information on how to obtain and analyze traffic crash information. Assistance in obtaining or reviewing traffic crash information is available from the Traffic Operations Division (TRF).
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  • Include curb ramp construction on any project that includes curb construction.
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  • Review available transportation technology solutions appropriate to project goals.
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  • 10300: Evaluate compliance with planning documents.
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  • Prepare a draft Purpose and Need statement. See 30310: Prepare “Purpose and Need” statement. It may be required, later on, as part of an environmental document.

Critical Sequencing. Needs identification should be done as the first step in the project development process.

Resource Material.

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10110: Perform site visit

Description. Site visits should be performed to properly assess project needs to adequately design a project. Although maps, satellite imagery, or aerial photography may give an overview of a project area, a site visit is essential to obtain a complete understanding of the project area. The purpose of the visit should be to identify needed improvements and physical or environmental constraints. Planning stage site analysis of land, location, and possible environmental impacts can improve scope development and reduce key feature(s) oversight. Documents and media files gathered during a site visit by subject matter experts can aid preliminary design and project estimate development.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Project manager.

Subtasks.

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  • Gather pertinent plans, maps, and reference material to use as guides in locating existing features.
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  • Gather information on governmental jurisdiction boundaries such as cities, counties, utility districts, and water reservoir areas.
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  • Visit project site with others having relevant knowledge, such as: drainage engineer, structural engineer, traffic engineer, biologist, botanist, and other environmental staff.
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  • Data collection: field notes, key project issues, photographs and video of the project area. Note presence type and location of any utilities, development adjacent to the right of way, overall terrain, etc.

Helpful Suggestions. The following suggestions are offered to make the visit to the site more productive:

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  • Input from an environmental specialist, while at the site, can be useful in determining environmental constraints.
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  • For visiting remote, off-road sites, use Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to determine locations.
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  • Consider using an Esri Collector to access ArcGIS online data collecting on GPS enabled smartphone or tablet devices.
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  • Trimble GIS mapping equipment can link images collected with external cameras.
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  • Use manual tools such as level, measuring wheel and tape to collect as-built dimensions.
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  • During a site visit, create media files of the project area. Capture still and video images of the proposed project between the planned limits with a GPS enabled device. Use notes or commentary to supplement the collected information.
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  • Photos and video of stream areas can be useful, later, in determining roughness coefficients used in hydraulic calculations and in determining high-water marks.

In collecting data for preliminary design, look for the following features:

Critical Sequencing.

Resource Material.

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10120: Public safety planning

Description. Given Texas' geographic location and impact on state and national economies, it is essential to consider security for the Texas transportation network which serves public mobility, economic development, and productivity.Texas has an international border, a long coastline attracting visitors and accommodating a megaregion bound by several Interstates, as well as more than two dozen ports and ferry services. NAFTA has increased the amount of regional and national freight traffic passing through the Texas Triangle. Texas ports serve military and multinational commercial business, and will serve deepwater post-Panamax ships carrying freight distributed by truck, air, and rail.Having a long coastline places megapolitan areas at risk to natural disasters.

Texas is also a significant national and international supplier of energy products with refineries and distribution infrastructure in close proximity to the Texas transportation network. TxDOT corridor planning should consider emergency evacuation planning.

Pertinent Project Types. Priority corridor and strategic projects

Responsible Party. Executive Director through District Engineer

Resource Material.

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