Building a Freeway: Project Development Process

Building a Freeway: Project Development Process

February 6, 2013

The project development process starts before construction.

We were perusing the ADOT Construction Manual just recently (because, really, who doesn’t enjoy reading a good manual every now and then?) and we came across a passage that terrifically sums up ADOT’s Project Development Process.

We’ve blogged before about many of the steps in the process – planning, prioritizing, funding, building and maintenance – but we think the text below gives an excellent overview that we’d like to share with you today…

The project development process or highway development process (as it is sometimes called) begins with a traffic, safety, or environmental problem that needs to be solved.

For example, a passing lane may be needed on a rural highway to relieve congestion and reduce accidents. The problem is usually identified locally by ADOT's Regional Traffic Engineer, a maintenance foreperson, the District Engineer, a city or county Engineer, or an elected official. Some projects are initiated by the Department’s Transportation Planning Division who look at traffic patterns and highway safety on a statewide basis. Most projects are initiated at the district level.

Since there are usually more projects identified than money to build them, a process of prioritizing each project, determining its overall scope, and estimating its costs is initiated during what we call the planning phase.

During the planning phase, a study is initiated where several engineering and environmental elements are reviewed in detail and results of the study are often shared at a public hearing. After public hearings and an environmental clearance is granted, the project advances to the design and pre-construction phases. Here the project is turned from an abstract idea into engineering drawings, additional right-of-way is purchased, as needed, and construction contract specifications are written.

But, before a project can move into the implementation phase, the project must be included in the Five-Year Highway Construction Program and have funding set aside. The Five-Year Highway Construction Program is reviewed and ultimately approved each year by the State Transportation Board. In addition to approving the Five-Year Highway Construction Program, the State Transportation Board officially awards a contract to the contractor who was successful in the bid process or in some cases is most qualified to complete the project.

The next step is to build the project. The contractor moves on to the project site and an ADOT Construction Field Office oversees the construction work. Their job is to inspect the work, pay the contractor, and ensure the project serves the public as intended.

The final steps are to open the project to the public and to maintain the project or facility so it performs as needed.

Stay tuned to the ADOT Blog – we have some posts planned for the coming weeks and months that will further explore each of the steps listed above!

Editor's note: The text above is quoted from the ADOT Construction manual, but we clarified a few sentences and added the links.

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