Interview with Frank Dunn, vdot, asked him what is the project development process on 8/11/04

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Interview with Frank Dunn, VDOT, asked him what is the project development process on 8/11/04

  1. Project inception is often the long-range traffic forecasting models of existing plus programmed network, the long range transportation plan process involves state agencies, regional MPOs, and local governments

  1. A project can be initiated by local government, Virginia is unique because of the large number of independent cities and towns, initiated by Council resolution

  1. But usually the project starts in the long range transportation plan, then goes to the cities and towns, cities and towns can then ask VDOT to move the project from the plan to the program

  1. (but the Military Highway was programmed in 1983, still not built)

  1. Motivation of a project can also come from preallocation hearings

  1. Primary, urban, secondary, interstate projects are all initiated differently

  1. E.g., interstate 64 involves many localities Hampton Roads to Richmond, all need to be involved

  1. MPOs are new since 1974 and the passage of ISTEA in 1991 gave them more responsibility (TIPs of the MPO have to match STIPs of the state)

  1. Generally (unless hardship case), preliminary engineering phase is completed before right of way acquisition phase before construction phase

  1. The agency can file a certificate if right of way is not acquired by negotiation, the certificate puts the owner on a timeline to be moved out (eminent domain)

  1. Different procedures for federal versus state/local funds

  1. (Dunn suggests picking 3 or 4 specific projects because it varies so much)

  1. (Look for a document done by the location and design section called the “project development process” with the general guidelines done by Patsy Napier and environmental Cooper Walmsley 371-6753 in 96-97) [found it])

  1. (plus a federal government study in 2000, national effort to make a state by state comparison, FHWA? Were going to do a composite report of the National Highway Institute)

  1. Distinguish planning and programming, planning is the idea, programming is the seriousness to implement with a financial tie usually, but we have programmed a lot in Virginia without the idea of financing

  1. The pressure of the powers that be can advance a project more quickly, e.g., city of Norfolk train to cross Hampton Blvd at grade, Secy. Martinez moved it quickly, had the PE done in a year, but no funding ever came, still not done

  1. Environmental document first thing you do, you get an environmental exclusion by FHWA (no r/w, no wetland), or environmental assessment (if some wetland and few right of way) or full environmental impact statement (interstate, urban, noise, any multilane arterial in an urban area that exceeds a mile)

  1. The EIS belongs to the federal agency, state does it for them, this is all part of the preliminary engineering phase

  1. PE: environmental document and location phase are synonomouse, select location of least environmental impacts that solves purporse or need identified for that project, the environmental document and the location are approved

  1. Then the design begins, e.g., you’ve got a $200 million project, environmental document has a three-year shelf life, but you can build pieces of the larger project so long as they have independent utility to keep the environmental document alive (e.g., 64 widening west to Jefferson Ave, next Jefferson Ave. to Ft. Eustis Blvd., commuter influence used to be greater toward the core, now with reverse commute seeing more 50/50 with suburban office parks), much affected by the financial constraints

  1. Design involves preliminary field review or project scoping, field inspection produces readable plans that are not yet ready for construction, involves VDOT central office, district, MPOs, contractor or in-house

  1. Before you design you do an engineering survey

  1. VDOT does not bid professional services, RFP put out, private side responds, short list is developed, pared to 2 to 5 best firms, interview process, cost doesn’t enter, once you select, you negotiate the cost or go to the second most preferred firm, sometimes its done in the districts, sometimes in central office (the environmental people also can contract fo the EIS)

  1. PE comes to closure with a public hearing on the design only, CTB approves the location and the design (possibly if it’s below a dollar threshold the commissioner can approve without the CTB), if it’s a federal project, then the FHWA approves if (one project at a time)

  1. Financially constrained requirement that you can’t program projects that you can’t prove financial stream over 20 years

  1. The batch of projects for a region has to go to environmental conformity analysis (both TIP and financially constrained LRTP), you can’t program the project until its included in the conformity analysis

  1. FHWA must sign off on the PE, without it you can start right of way acquisition

  1. R/W proceeds inhouse or occasionally contractors do the negotiation, right of way acquisition, right of way agency

  1. Appraisals are made by certified land appraisers, first its got to be appraised, VDOT has its own appraisers, difficult to pay more than appraised value, throws us into condemntation problems or file of a certificate

  1. Consultant is on call with a loaded hourly rate, with brief cost proposal process to get started, or the appraiser can be engaged for a specific large project, for a consultant to go ahead to work order is six months unless theres a gofast to clear the way (management is on your side)

  1. Right of way acquisition usually takes about 2 years, VDOT has to find you a comparable situation for relocation at no expense to you

  1. !! Find the publication of VDOT on right of way process, has a full description about relocation assistance, all the process, usually its available at public hearings

  1. negotiating to buy involves what to buy, what to pay, where to move, allowance for new drapes, etc., relocation must be to safe and sanitary condition

  1. Plans are signed at the end of design and before r/w can begin, FHWA or VDOT approve and sign when the r/w is done (the TIP also has these three phases pe, rw/const), either r/w or certificates, FHWA counts the certificates as accomplished r/w, indicates initiation of a condemnation sui

  1. Construction phase begins, advertise bids, request for bids, we’re receiving bids on this project, working off the design plans

  1. Contractor buys the plans for printing cost, has 60 days to make a bid

  1. Contractor bids item by item at a unit cost, per cubic yard, per guardrail foot, per amount of aggregate, etc., for the number of units that are given in the plan from the PE

  1. If the contractors meets other requirements (bonded, federal fair labor actions, many others), the lowest bid is accepted

  1. Many small secondary projects are unplanned and without federal funds, needing approval of county boards of supervisors

  1. The contract can’t exeed the PE estimate by more than 10%, estimates are secret, engineering costs are secret, quantities are not secret

  1. Contract is signed when a schedule is agreed, then project is in the hands of the contractor, inspectors, Districts [note we should understand better all the phases involving the contractors and inspectors]

  1. End of interview with Frank Dunn

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