Section 2: Project AuthorizationAnchor: #i1009250
All projects must be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission, either by inclusion in the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) or through a project specific minute order, before beginning project development.
Projects are authorized as one of three levels of authority - PLAN, DEVELOP or CONSTRUCT. To obtain PLAN authority for a project, submit a request to the director of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP).
This section includes the following tasks listed in chronological order.
10200. Prepare cost estimate.
10215. Project File of Record.Anchor: #i1009269
10200: Prepare cost estimate
Description. To obtain adequate funding for a project, prepare construction cost estimate and separate right of way (ROW) cost estimate, and enter the estimates into the Design and Construction Information System (DCIS). It is important for this information to be correct in DCIS so that the project and funding data will be correct in the Financial Management Division (FIN) PeopleSoft project information.
It is important to clearly define the project scope when a project is first considered for programming. An accurate scope of work ensures the design addresses the project purpose and need and is also needed to develop a high-quality preliminary cost estimate. Some issues that should be considered when developing the scope are:
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- Type of work proposed (2R, 3R, 4R, or 5R), Anchor: #HAEQSHUE
- Proposed typical section, Anchor: #NNUARXJE
- For existing geometry - meets appropriate design criteria or consider realignment, Anchor: #HGSGTEGV
- Specify safety improvements indicated by crash analysis, Anchor: #URLSHPXS
- Multimodal design considerations - accessible pedestrian routes, bicycle facilities, Anchor: #QGWIYHHG
- Existing and proposed pavement, Anchor: #SJFJATYT
- Bridges (size and complexity), Anchor: #EGNRTEKL
- Earthwork and retaining walls or sloped embankments, Anchor: #XVBEUJPU
- Drainage issues and possible solutions, Anchor: #GWMNFAJM
- Potential human and nature environmental issues and mitigation, Anchor: #DYOQPDBF
- Traffic control plans, including detours, Anchor: #NXVYTORQ
- Specialized designs and technology incentives.
Reasonable and accurate cost estimating, and intermittent updating of these costs, helps maintain public confidence and trust throughout the life of a project. When a project cost estimate escalates, it impacts the funding for other needed projects and requires that the department have a record to explain the reason for rising estimated costs.
The Advance Planning Risk Analysis (APRA) tool developed under TxDOT Research Project 0-5478 offers a method to measure project scope definition for completeness and identify potential risks early in the project. With this tool, users identify the critical elements of the project scope across all disciplines. This tool is suggested for use throughout the project’s life cycle and is referenced at several key stages in this manual.
The Estimator® Converter Program available for preparing computer estimates is posted on the TxDOT website under Inside TxDOT - Design Division. For more information on AASHTO Estimator®, refer to the PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 4, Section 2, “ Preparation of Project Estimate” or contact the Design Division.
Pertinent Project Types. All projects.
Responsible Party. District Director of Transportation Planning and Development
- Anchor: #WBFIQHYF
- Obtain design information about the project, such as: project length, proposed bridges and major drainage structures, proposed typical sections, expected pavement structure, and required ROW widths. Anchor: #HDKPBKQI
- Include significant traffic control and detour costs. Anchor: #RISEJJSX
- Research possible major costs for environmental protection and mitigation measures. Anchor: #UNNLJRGC
- Although not included in the construction estimate, research major costs associated with utility adjustments and relocations because they are ultimately paid by the public. Anchor: #OLNTREQS
- For programming estimates, note project items to be paid by others (e.g., sidewalk to be paid by city), write down assumptions for future reference (e.g., project does not include illumination). Anchor: #CLDDXMTU
- Obtain average low bid unit prices from TxDOT website under Business - Letting and Bids. Unit bid prices are updated every month by the Construction Division. Using accurate bid prices is very important for calculating a reasonable estimate. Anchor: #GCFHGOBD
- Prepare the construction cost estimate in a chart with column headings in order of: Bid Item Number, Item Description, Unit (of measure), Quantity, and Price. In a programming estimate, bid item numbers are optional, but helpful. Anchor: #HRQNNYAP
- Add additional costs in the range of 10% to 20% for miscellaneous items such as erosion control measures, striping, pavement markings, and signs. Anchor: #RWKBUOSR
- Include approximately 6% to 11% for engineering and contingencies to arrive at an estimated total cost. Anchor: #FWCGCSSM
- Add estimate special accounts for Force Account law enforcement, safety contingency, and environmental maintenance. Anchor: #RPCQAQXC
- Prepare a separate right of way cost estimate, including eligible utility adjustment costs. ROW project limits should be the same as construction project limits for the corresponding project. Anchor: #LHYUBSTU
- Review cost estimates with project manager or other staff knowledgeable about the project. Anchor: #PEFVSFEW
- Enter the construction and ROW cost estimates into DCIS. Refer to the DCIS User Manual.
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- Detailed descriptions of bid item work and materials are available online in TxDOT's specification book, Standard Specifications For Construction and Maintenance of Highways, Streets, and Bridges. Anchor: #RMRTGHXS
- A list of 8-character bid codes, brief item descriptions, and units of measure are available online at TxDOT - Business>Resources>Standard Specifications>Bid Codes. Anchor: #RXTPEBEJ
- Bid item numbers correspond to standard specification item numbers and special specification item numbers. Anchor: #BTFLEOBX
- Relocating major utilities (e.g., fiber optic lines) or providing environmental mitigation measures (e.g., filtration basins) can be major project costs that usually can be identified early with minimal effort and making a field visit. Anchor: #WYTLVYAE
- As a rough check, compare the estimate to cost per mile for similar projects in the area. Anchor: #RHDPAJWL
- It is better to slightly overestimate than underestimate. Generally, a preliminary estimate is considered reasonable if, later, it is found to be within +/- ten percent of the final cost estimate. Anchor: #WISYCPOW
- Do not prepare overly high estimates that tie up funds that could be allocated to other projects.
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- For bridge cost estimating information, refer to the TxDOT Bridge Project Development Manual. Anchor: #TOUIHXMV
- For information on entering cost estimate data into DCIS, refer to the TxDOT DCIS User Manual. Anchor: #IFIGMUQM
- PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 4, Section 2. Anchor: #YHSNEHNQ
- University of Texas Center for Transportation Research (CTR) Library - search archives by research project number. Anchor: #TJAHXGNR
- Finance (FIN) Intranet site for information on scoping and estimating projects. Anchor: #ETKBFVDA
- AASHTO Practical Guide to Cost Estimating, Bid Based Estimates.
10210: Obtain approval of PLAN authority
Description. The Statewide Planning & Programming Management Section of the Transportation Planning & Programming Division (TPP) approves projects for the PLAN Authority Phase. PLAN authority is reserved for mobility or high capital cost projects. Planning, route studies, preliminary design, environmental impact studies, right of way determination, and public involvement activities are performed.
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- To obtain PLAN authority, send request to the director of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division. Anchor: #IVMFWABE
- With PLAN authority, work should proceed to complete right of way maps and identify necessary environmental permits, clearances and coordination.
Pertinent Project Types. Projects in the following UTP categories:
Preventive Maintenance and Rehabilitation
Metro and Urban Area Corridor Projects
Non-traditionally Funded Transportation Projects
Statewide Connectivity Corridor Projects
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement
Structures Replacement and Rehabilitation
Metropolitan Mobility and Rehabilitation
Transportation Alternative Program
Supplemental Transportation Projects
Responsible party. District Director of Transportation Planning and Development.
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- PLAN authority is controlled by TPP because these projects are not officially part of the UTP. Anchor: #PGXUQILJ
- Set up a Control Section Job (900 Series) then request TPP approval to convert the 900 number to an assigned job number. FIN will convert the 900 number and submit to PeopleSoft. Anchor: #WGHPGDRO
- When approved for PLAN authority, the district should verify that the project fund authorization has been properly set up in PeopleSoft. Contact the district accounting office for assistance. Anchor: #IFSBJGJY
- The project should be set up in PeopleSoft before proceeding with any work.
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- TxDOT Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP) Anchor: #MGOOWHXQ
- TxDOT Financial Management Division (FIN) Anchor: #TSEFBUNO
- Texas Department of Transportation UTP
10215: Project File of Record
Description. An audit trail should be maintained in the event of a legal challenge or audits by state or federal auditors. TxDOT refers to the official location as the “File of Record”. Securely store the File of Record. For department projects, districts must maintain a complete and orderly project File of Record that is not cluttered with unnecessary information. Documents should support decision making for the plans, methods, and procedures used to meet the mission, goals, and objectives of the project.
The file should provide guidance to where electronic files are maintained. Project email, voicemail, desktop or portable device files should be retained according to department policy. Files should be complete, accurate, consistent, and held for the life of the project then archived for retention period according to department policy.
A file can be storage equipment such as a filing cabinet, electronic media, or electronic recordkeeping arranged into logical records stored together and treated as a unit.
Design Exception files. Permanently retained for legal reference. Design Exception files are stored in designated filing location used exclusively for these files.
Preliminary engineering files. Retain primary records, which typically support the financial record of a project and as applicable to a state or a federal project.
- Anchor: #EFOXFHSG
- Design Summary Report (DSR) Anchor: #TMNUOYAS
- FMIS project agreement/modifications Anchor: #SKRUHGOE
- Consultant services contract Anchor: #QAXHNVCR
- Design Summary Report (DSR) Anchor: #GSKDQKCN
- Project agreements between department and local or federal agencies Anchor: #ALXJSXUX
- Revisions/change orders Anchor: #IDYDOUWP
- Invoices and billing support documents (travel, timesheets, etc.) Anchor: #XJFHXWII
- Final plans/specifications/work products Anchor: #OCBFKTKA
- Interstate access approval Anchor: #MLGYUAJO
- Utility agreements Anchor: #HKWXVUFJ
- Value Engineering study(ies) Anchor: #LRGXMBOM
- Design decision documentation Anchor: #YMHXVCRR
- NEPA documentation Anchor: #DBPEUTEY
- Final ROD/FEIS/FONSI Anchor: #WADQQNTA
- Documentation of litigation or claims
Construction files. Preliminary engineering files can be transferred to a construction file at close of project preliminary engineering phase. Records of further project development and construction, in addition to those listed as “preliminary engineering”, are documents to close the project as listed below. List is not all inclusive and as applicable to state or federal projects.
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- Plans, Specifications, and Estimate (PS&E) Anchor: #JGCLJVDS
- Bid/award documentation Anchor: #SIWVIRKJ
- Revisions/change orders Anchor: #RYIRCPYB
- Invoices and billing support documentation Anchor: #RRVNWPQR
- As-built plans Anchor: #ETFFCHQC
- Materials records Anchor: #VTFIMLLX
- Field book/diaries Anchor: #WAJMGSYJ
- Documentation for construction engineering costs Anchor: #NHDNKWFM
- Force account documentation Anchor: #UAENUEPU
- Utility/railroad agreements Anchor: #XJJTGEGT
- Environmental permits Anchor: #IJKKEMJT
- Alternative contracting method approval/public interest finding Anchor: #GWQVXIRF
- Right of Way clearance Anchor: #XIRLHQOL
- Final acceptance checklist/supporting documentation/contractor release Anchor: #JNHIJNJK
- Final estimate voucher/invoice Anchor: #BYHRVMXY
- Final acceptance of ITS/technology related elements of the project should be based on the test plans initially developed during the design phase of the project where hardware specifications and software requirements have been defined Anchor: #OGWKPLNP
- Materials certification (23 CFR §637) Anchor: #JUVPRBCI
- Verify completion/status of environmental commitments Anchor: #XXSSFVOC
- Environmental Stage Gate Lists Anchor: #NLCGWGEB
- Warranty documentation Anchor: #SYNLOQLT
- Final inspection and acceptance report Anchor: #PMITWWBO
- Documentation from earlier phases that supports construction cost eligibility/PS&E approval Anchor: #DJNEHQBA
- Audits (may occur after project close)
10220: Obtain project specific Minute Order, if required
Description. A Minute Order (MO) for project authorization is requested by district staff through the Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP). A Minute Order is needed in the following situations:
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- Project authorization. An MO is needed if a project is not authorized in the current Unified Transportation Program (UTP) or in a Bank Balance Allocation Program. Anchor: #MFGNXPQV
- Control of access. All projects are assumed to be non-controlled access, unless the district sends a request to TPP for an MO to be passed designating the facility, or a portion of the facility, as controlled access under Transportation Code, §203.031 (HB 179, 55th Legislature, 1957.) The control of access line on schematics, ROW maps and plans should be coincident with the back of curb or property right of way line and clearly depicts the locations where access to the highway is denied. Anchor: #GGWUDTCO
- Route designation. If the project is on new location, the district may want to request route designation in the same MO or separate MO. New locations must be designated by an MO and will need to be removed from the state system by a subsequent MO. Anchor: #TTYYSSOQ
- Donations. A MO is needed for accepting donations, such as right of way. Anchor: #WVYKJCBM
- Authority to contract. For TxDOT, the authority to contract for the project is in the form of a MO. The MO may be a specific MO authorizing a project.
Pertinent Project Types. All projects.
Responsible Party. District Director of Transportation Planning and Development
- Anchor: #RCESOAUQ
- Assistance with minute orders is available from TPP. Anchor: #DPITKALK
- Copies of minute orders are available from the Texas Transportation Commission Minute Clerk.
- Anchor: #BVFRIATS
- Obtain project authorization before starting project development or executing an agreement with outside entities.