Chapter 1: Pre-Assembly Activities


Section 1: Environmental, Design, Right-of-Way, and Utility: Requirements and Value Engineering Studies

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TxDOT policy is to ensure that no person in the United States of America shall on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any of our programs or activities.

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This section covers the following:

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Environmental Requirements

In the early stages of planning and development of any highway project, consideration should be given to the social, economic, and environmental issues of the project. TxDOT affords the opportunity to identify any social, economic, or environmental consequences on all projects. This is accomplished in cooperation and coordination with local, state and federal agencies. During this process, decisions relative to public hearings and environmental requirements are necessary. The next subsections discuss

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Environmental Clearances

The three major categories of environmental study are:

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  • Categorical Exclusion: Actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment
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  • Environmental Assessment: Actions in which the significance of the impact on the environment is not clearly established
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  • Environmental Impact Statement: Actions that may significantly affect the environment.

For the purposes of this PS&E Preparation Manual, it is assumed that the required environmental and schematic approvals have been obtained (see the Project Development Process Manual).

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Design Schematic

As part of the environmental approval process and early project development, a preliminary and/or a geometric schematic may be prepared to describe the existing and proposed general geometric features and location requirements for a project. A geometric schematic is required for new location or added capacity projects and for projects requiring control of access or an Environmental Impact Statement. A list of schematic requirements can be found in the TxDOT Roadway Design Manual. The schematic should include basic design information, which is necessary for proper review and evaluation of the proposed improvements. For a more complete and detailed discussion of the preliminary schematic or the geometric schematic, refer to the Project Development Process Manual.

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Design Conference

The next subsections discuss these aspects of a design conference:

Description. A design conference is an informal, working meeting to discuss, establish, determine, and finalize the following:

Attendees. The meeting is recommended for all projects and should be scheduled as soon as possible after authorization for PS&E has been secured. Scheduling and moderating should be accomplished by the Project Manager directly responsible for the design and development of the PS&E. Suggested attendees are as follows:.

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  • Staff from the Area Engineer’s office who will have construction responsibilities
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  • Maintenance Supervisor who will be responsible for maintenance of the roadway
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  • Staff from offices having primary review responsibilities
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  • Staff from outside agencies directly involved with the project—i.e. funding responsibilities, review responsibilities, etc.
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  • Staff who will be directly involved in the development of PS&E for the project

    During the conference it is recommended that all design decisions are documented in a Design Summary Report ( DSRform) format for further submittal to Austin.

For a more complete and detailed discussion on how to conduct a design conference and a copy of the suggested DSR form, refer to the Project Development Process Manual, Chapter 5, Section 1.

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Right-of-Way and Utility Status

During the advance planning and environmental process, a schematic of the project is usually developed for approval and exhibit purposes. As an integral part of the geometrics of the schematic, preliminary proposed right-of-way lines are established. The required right-of-way width should accommodate the design criteria and utilities, both existing and proposed. The locations indicated by the various utility companies are not intended to be exact but rather to advise the designer in advance of those facilities within the corridor. Exact locations of utilities will be determined later in project development. (See the Right of Way Collection).

Once the final right-of-way lines have been established, including temporary construction or permanent drainage easement(s), the designer should coordinate with the district’s Right-of-Way Section to verify the proper right-of-way is acquired and that it is free of encroachments. Coordination with the district’s Environmental Section should be initiated before the acquisition of the right-of-way.

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Value Engineering Studies

Value engineering studies (see Chapter 2, Section 6 of the Project Development Process Manual) are required for all transportation corridors or Federal-Aid projects on the NHS with estimated costs (construction plus ROW) of $50 million or more and bridge projects of $40 million or more. These studies typically will be performed near the 30% level of project design completion.

Projects within $10 million of these threshold amounts should be considered for VE studies.

A VE Study is not required on design-build projects. If the Project Manager chooses to conduct a study, this should be performed prior to the release of the Request for Proposal (RFP).

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Road Closures During Special Events

Identify events and key dates where the highway mainlanes and ramps must be available during peak traffic periods to the traveling public to minimize safety hazards and economic impacts in accordance with Senate Bill 312, incorporated into Section 224.034 of the Transportation Code.

Additionally, in accordance with Senate Bill 82 incorporated into Section 223.051 of the Transportation Code, in municipalities where the following apply:

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  • The municipality is included in three counties, two of which have a population of 1.8 million or more;
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  • The municipality is located primarily in a county with a population of 1.8 million or more;
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  • The municipality has within its boundaries all or part of an international airport operated jointly by two municipalities.

When notification is provided to the department by the municipality within 180 days of a scheduled event, temporary road closures, including relocations or changes to entrance and exit ramps, are prohibited on the dates specified. Currently this includes the City of Grapevine.

A workflow illustrating the Guidelines for Road Closures During Special Events can be found at: http://crossroads/org/des/fs/index.asp.

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