Chapter 5: PS&E Development

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Section 1: Design Conference

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This section includes information on assessing background information for completeness, updating the information as needed, and conducting the design conference. If the project is inactive for some time, it is possible that traffic data, right of way maps, and other information will need updating. It is also a good idea for the design team (and possibly the landscape architect and the biologist) to perform a site visit.

The design conference provides the opportunity for key people to review basic design criteria and parameters, accept or change them, and formally endorse decisions. These decisions provide a foundation for the design team to commence detailed design work and PS&E production.

This section includes the following two tasks listed in chronological order.

5010. Obtain additional or updated data

5020. Conduct Design Conference

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5010: Obtain additional or updated data

Description. The following data may have changed or need updating throughout project development.

  • ROW maps. ROW maps need to be obtained as part of data collection. ROW maps are used to define limits of, and rights to use, state property.
  • As-built construction plans. As-built construction plans need to be obtained as part of data collection. As-built plans provide important data regarding project features not apparent from the surface and geometric features, such as vertical curvature, which are not readily obtained by field surveys.
  • Traffic data. Traffic data is used to determine: the number of lanes needed, intersection channelization geometry, pavement design requirements, and desired safety-related improvements.
  • Site information. A site visit (see 1010: Perform site visit) (field review) should be conducted by the design team. For complex projects, appropriate division staff should be invited to the site visit. The design team should use the site visit to identify issues requiring additional study, items not readily apparent from a two-dimensional plan set, and to identify items which have significantly changed from data collected during preliminary design.
  • Preliminary cost estimates. Preliminary cost estimates are prepared during advance planning. Cost estimates (see 2460: Update cost estimates) may change substantially due to the amount of time since the schematic design was completed or due to changes in project scope. Update the project cost estimate as necessary and transfer data to DCIS.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Project manager


Helpful Suggestions.

  • If construction is proposed within existing easements, obtain a copy of the original conveyance document for the easement and check for restrictions on property use.
  • Check with the area maintenance supervisor to learn about any issues that the project can resolve.
  • Cost estimates (see 2460: Update cost estimates) should be updated and recorded in DCIS throughout final design whenever a significant scope change occurs, as many relatively minor changes can cumulatively affect the cost estimate.
  • For all site visits, take photographs or video of major project issues.
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5020: Conduct Design Conference

Description. This task marks the beginning of PS&E preparation and occurs after most of the background data is gathered. The purpose of the conference is to:

  • review basic design parameters, concepts, and criteria that were established during the Design Concept Conference (see 2000: Conduct Design Concept Conference) or by the project manager
  • confirm or change design criteria necessary to commence detailed design work
  • obtain concurrence with decisions.

Design Summary Report (DSR). A Design Summary Report (DSR) form has been developed for use in preparing for the Design Conference. Use of this form will help ensure that the project team does not overlook potentially critical issues. While all items will not be applicable to all projects, overlooking any item may significantly delay the project. The recommended DSRform is available in MS-Word format. The DSR form also contains an attendance list to consider. The DSR form that was completed at the Design Concept Conference (see Task 2000: Conduct Design Concept Conference) should be updated at the Design Conference.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects except simple projects for which an informal meeting between the district design engineer and project manager suffices.

Responsible Party. Project manager


  • Gather and organize existing data including maps, aerial photographs, schematics, and environmental documents that might be referred to during the conference.
  • Obtain and review the DSR documenting the Design Concept Conference (see 2000: Conduct Design Concept Conference). If there was no Design Concept Conference, then review documents, if any, containing design criteria used during preliminary design.
  • Review design commitments and decisions made during schematic development.
  • Utilize the Advance Planning Risk Analysis (APRA) tool to evaluate risk issues and mitigation plans underway. The APRA tool and The User Guide for the APRA Tool and is available here. Refer to Task 1200 for more information regarding this tool.
  • Discuss staffing and scheduling requirements for detailed design work.
  • Review scheduling of related work such as for right of way acquisition and utility adjustments.
  • Finalize design criteria.
  • Update the DSR and circulate to all parties invited to the conference for their review.
  • Obtain concurrence or comments by approval entities listed in the DSR.
  • Update the DSR as the project progresses.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • The project manager should consult with the director of transportation planning and development and the area engineer to determine appropriate individuals to invite to the conference.
  • If additional offices, areas of expertise, or governmental entities have become involved since the Design Concept Conference, consider inviting them.
  • If the PS&E team and schematic design team are different, invite schematic design team members to brief the new team on commitments, decisions, special problems, or constraints.
  • Appoint an individual to take conference minutes or notes.
  • At least two weeks before the conference, invite participants, and distribute meeting materials including the partially completed DSR.

Critical Sequencing. The following information should be available before holding the Design Conference:

  • schematic approval
  • value engineering study
  • public involvement
  • approved environmental document and commitments
  • preliminary pavement design
  • layouts for interchanges
  • level of service analyses
  • hydraulic studies and analyses
  • traffic and accident data
  • aerial photographs and topographic surveys
  • preliminary geotechnical surveys
  • utility coordination.

Resource Material.

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