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Section 3: UTP Implementation

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Overview

The implementation of the UTP is described in this section.

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Section Contents

This section contains the following:

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Development of Metropolitan and Rural Transportation Plans

Each MPO is required to develop a Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), and each TxDOT district is required to develop a Rural Transportation Plan (RTP). MTPs and RTPs, both of which are financially constrained, have planning horizons of 25 years. For MPOs involving non-attainment areas, the MTP is updated every three years, while for other MPOs, the update cycle is five years. RTPs are updated every five years.

The UTP is one of the sources of information for MTPs and RTPs. The MPO and the TxDOT districts can obtain the following information from the UTP and/or from DCIS for the ten-year period included in the UTP:

  • projects authorized for Priority 1 and Priority 2 development that are located within the geographical jurisdiction of the MPOs and TxDOT districts
  • an indication of the committed transportation system represented by these authorized projects
  • an indication of the projected, project-specific funding for the MPOs and the TxDOT districts for the listed projects.
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Development of Transportation Improvement Programs

TxDOT develops a Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) biannually. The STIP is a combination of the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP), developed by each MPO, and the Rural Transportation Improvement Programs (RTIP), which are developed by each TxDOT district. A very significant attribute of the STIP is that a federal-aid project cannot be authorized for construction unless it is included in the STIP. For areas classified as being in non-conformity with air quality regulations, most projects must be included in the approved conforming TIP and/or RTIP to be authorized for construction.

The TIPs, RTIPs, and STIP cover a three-year period and are financially constrained. The UTP and/or DCIS provides the following information for the development of the TIPs, RTIPs, and the STIP:

  • projects authorized for Priority 1 development that are located within the geographical jurisdiction of the MPOs and/or the TxDOT districts and that are projected to be developed for letting within the three-year planning horizon
  • an indication of the projected, project-specific funding for the MPO for the listed projects.
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Guidance for Project Development

TxDOT must use its available resources to effectively and efficiently plan, develop, maintain, and operate the Texas highway system and to fulfill its legislatively authorized responsibilities for public transportation and aviation. The development of the UTP—marked by cooperation with MPOs, transit operators, local governments, and citizens—matches projected funding with the highest priority transportation projects. The resulting, authorized projects must be developed within the scheduled time periods to effectively and efficiently use authorized and/or projected funding.

The UTP provides the guidance for the commitment of department personnel and the procurement of professional services to ensure the timely development of the authorized projects.

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Letting Management

Annual Letting Goal. Prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, TxDOT establishes a letting goal for the fiscal year. Cash flow projections supplied by the Finance Division provide the basis for establishing the targeted amount of work to be contracted. These projections consider the following factors:

  • projected revenues deposited in State Highway Fund 6, including
  • motor fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, motor oil taxes, permit fees, interest, contributions, and other revenues
  • projected federal-aid reimbursement for eligible expenses
  • projected expenditures budgeted for administration, preliminary engineering, planning, research, right-of-way acquisition, maintenance, etc.
  • projected payments to contractors for work under contract

Various scenarios of letting amounts, letting schedules, and types of projects are analyzed. The software employed provides projected fund balances by month and by year for the scenarios considered. Maintaining a fund balance with a reserve sufficient to cover the variability in the projections (e.g., construction progress payments exceeding historical norms) is a primary consideration in establishing the goal. Because construction projects often extend for several years, it is essential that the longer-term implications (four to five years) be studied prior to selecting the current year letting strategy.

FY(X) Letting Schedule. The FY(X) letting schedule must be consistent with the targeted letting volume and the schedule and mix of projects in the selected strategy. The letting schedule can be composed of the following:

  • the projects listed in UTP Exhibit Q, FY(X) “Letting List for Project Specific Categories”
  • the projects listed in UTP Exhibit P, “Projects Delayed from Previous Fiscal Year that Retain Priority 1 Authorization”
  • the projects developed under the Bank Balance Allocation Programs that are projected to be developed for letting during FY(X). These projects are extracted from the DCIS database.

Additional considerations in developing the letting strategy include the following:

  • Federal-Aid Apportionments - Federal aid is apportioned by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on an annual basis for each of the federal-aid categories (e.g., Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System, Surface Transportation Program, etc.). When federal-aid funds are obligated for construction of a project, the funds are deducted from the state’s apportionment for the applicable category. The apportionment is available for the fiscal year of apportionment plus three years; therefore, it is necessary that sufficient projects are processed for the federal-aid categories to ensure that no apportionment is lapsed. (Note: These federal-aid apportionments are the same that are used in establishing the program levels in the development stages of the UTP.)
  • Federal Obligation Authority - The FHWA establishes an obligation authority for the state each federal fiscal year. Essentially, this constitutes the maximum amount of federal-aid funds the state can obligate in the federal fiscal year. This is the federal government’s process for controlling cash flow. Obligation authority is consistent with the federal funds appropriated by Congress; however, obligation authority is normally less than the funding required for all of the work authorized by Congress. Normally, obligation authority lapses at the end of the federal fiscal year. Unobligated balances are not carried into the subsequent federal fiscal year. Therefore, the state must process sufficient projects to fully use all of its obligation authority.

Project Criteria for Letting. For a project to be scheduled for letting, the following criteria must be met.

  • Project must have Priority 1 authorization.
  • If a federal-aid project, apportionments must be available in the appropriate federal-aid category. In some cases, the advance construction provision may be employed if no apportionment remains. This involves entering an agreement with FHWA whereby the project will be funded initially with state funds and subsequently converted to federal-aid when apportionment becomes available.
  • If a federal-aid project, the amount of federal aid to be obligated must be within the obligation authority. In some cases, an Advanced Construction strategy may be employed if no obligation authority remains. This involves entering an agreement with FHWA whereby the project will be funded initially with state funds and subsequently converted to federal aid when obligation authority becomes available.
  • If mandated by funds available, and if the project is in the following UTP categories, project costs must be within the TxDOT letting caps approved at the Trade Fair:
    • Category 2 - Interstate Maintenance
    • Category 3C - NHS: Rehabilitation
    • Category 4D - STP: Mobility/Rehabilitation
    • Category 4E - STP: Rural Mobility/Rehabilitation
    • Category 4F - STP: Rehabilitation in Urban and Rural Areas.
  • Project PS&E must be completed and approved.
  • Utility adjustments must be completed to a point where they will not interfere with the contractor in the construction of the project.
  • Right-of-way will be acquired to a point where it will not interfere with the contractor in the construction of the project.
  • Project must be included in the STIP if
    • a federal-aid project, or
    • a project of regional significance located in a nonattainment area.
  • Project must be included in a conforming TIP or RTIP if located in an area that has been determined to be in non-compliance with air quality standards.
  • Environmental clearances must be obtained.
  • If a federal-aid project, federal project authorization and agreement (FPAA) and state letter of authority must be received prior to advertisement or any work being done.

Each month’s letting is scheduled to achieve the following:

  • meet the annual letting goal
  • avoid lapsing any federal obligation authority
  • avoid lapsing any federal category apportionments.

Management of Letting Schedule. The Design Division is responsible for managing the letting schedule, for avoiding the lapse of federal-aid apportionments, and for using all obligation authority.�

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Monthly Contract Obligation Schedule

To ensure appropriate allocation of project funds, the monthly contract obligation schedule requires analysis by the Finance Division and approval by the director of the Finance Division.

NOTE: These approvals will be maintained in accordance with the department's records retention schedule.

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Step

Responsible Organization

Responsible Party (parties)

Action

1

FIN

Programming and Letting Manager

E-mails the dollar volumes and financial impacts analysis to the CFO, Finance Division Director, and Funds Management Section Director (for forecast review and analysis).

2

FIN

Funds Management Section (Forecast)

Analyzes the dollar volumes to ensure funds are available.

3

FIN and TSD

Finance Division, Letting Management

Technology Services Division

Prepares a list of selected and approved projects for a particular month's contract obligation schedule. This list of approved projects is also posted to the department’s website and also e-mailed to districts and divisions.

4

ADM

Finance Division Director

Signifies approval of a particular month's schedule by submitting an e-mail to the Letting Management Manager.


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