Home page silder Image

Research FAQs

ADOT Research Center

The goal of every research study is to produce implementable results. Every study must have both a sponsor and a champion to ensure support for the project and its implementation. Research Center project managers can assist in the identification of a sponsor and champion for a research idea based on its subject matter and objectives. 

A sponsor must be in a position to have the authority to make decisions on a study’s recommendations, and the ability and commitment to implement them. 

A champion must be a public sector employee who supports the project’s objectives and enables the research activity through active participation in the study. While the project champion is typically an ADOT employee, it is not a requirement.

The ADOT project manager is responsible for guiding the study from conception through completion and for ensuring that scope, schedule, and budget are met. The PM manages the consultant and the review and revision of deliverables. Deliverables are considered complete only after the approval of the ADOT project manager.

The TAC consists of ADOT subject matter experts, including the sponsor and champion, who critically review the technical content of research deliverables. When appropriate to the study topic, the TAC may also include staff from other public sector agencies. Active participation by TAC members is necessary to ensure that a research study fulfills its objectives.

A problem statement describes an idea for future research, and is presented to the ADOT Research Advisory Committee for consideration of funding. It briefly states the existing problems to be addressed and the objectives that would be met by the requested research. It does not prescribe a methodology, include a scope of work, or call for the use of specific products or providers. In general, a problem statement raises questions that would be answered by the suggested research, but does not presume to know the answers.

A scope of work is a set of objectives-based tasks included in the solicitation for consultants to conduct a research study. Scopes of work, in most cases, do not prescribe a specific methodology. Prospective consultants are asked to develop a methodology to meet the objectives stated in the scope of work.

A proposal is submitted by a potential consultant in response to a solicitation for a specific research study. The contractor proposes a work plan, budget, and schedule with the intent of meeting the stated scope of work. Consultants for research studies are selected based on submitted proposals.

The RAC consists of staff from the Research Center, various ADOT Divisions, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Membership is intended to represent a wide variety of fields and interests within the department. Working in an advisory capacity, members review problem statements for new research and consider recommendations for funding.

The ADOT project manager, in cooperation with the sponsor and champion, leads the process of identifying TAC members, developing a scope of work, releasing a solicitation, and selecting a consultant to conduct the study.

The FHWA State Planning and Research (SPR) program funds most research projects following the requirements of 23 CFR 420. Those projects are designated as “SPR” plus a project number assigned by the Research Center, e.g, SPR-595.

Active studies, as well as those that are programmed (funded but not yet assigned to a consultant), are listed online in the Research in Progress database. To learn more about these studies:

  • At the Research in Progress Database, under the heading "Records by Location," select "Find projects sponsored or performed by state DOTs."
  • In the keyword search field, enter ADOT.
    • The resulting list will indicate whether a study is active, programmed (funded but not under contract with a consultant), or completed. 
  • Select a title to display its abstract and other project details.

Studies primarily focus on research that can be applied directly to improve ADOT processes and products. Research studies address the full range of topics of interest to the department. The Research Center will also consider topics relevant to MPOs, COGs, and local jurisdictions that also advance ADOT objectives.

The process begins with the identification of a need, problem, or question related to ADOT’s processes or products. Any transportation stakeholder may suggest an idea for a research study at any time by contacting the Research Center.

Qualified contractors from the private sector and public universities typically conduct the research studies managed by the Research Center staff. A contractor is hired through ADOT’s contracting and procurement process. Under certain circumstances, other State of Arizona agencies may be contracted to perform the studies.


A: It depends on the eligible use(s) for which the Applicant applies:

Developing and submitting a federal grant - Yes, all Applicants are responsible for procuring their own consultant and administering the services provided

Non-federal match for a federal grant - ADOT will administer the project if an Applicant is successful in securing a federal grant award, unless the federal grant allows and the Applicant elects to be a direct recipient. ADOT project development administration fees will apply to all ADOT-administered projects.

Design and other engineering services - ADOT will administer the project, and ADOT project development administration fees will apply.

A: COG/MPO approval is required by the AZ SMART legislation.

A: A letter in pdf format from the COG/MPO demonstrating approval of the project and the applicable federal grant is required to be uploaded during the Application process.

A: No. The AZ SMART Fund will not provide match funding beyond that required by the applicable federal grant. Excess match is the responsibility of the Applicant.

A: No. The legislation establishing the AZ SMART Fund did not allow for retroactive reimbursements. Only expenditures incurred and paid after September 24, 2022 are eligible to be included in an application for the AZ SMART Fund.

A: Yes, as long as the federal grant agreement has not been executed prior to the date of an award being approved by the State Transportation Board. If the federal grant agreement has already been executed, the match cannot be provided by the AZ SMART Fund.

A:Yes, as long as the federal grant has not yet been awarded, the match could be provided by the AZ SMART Fund if approved by the State Transportation Board.

A: Yes. If the application is approved by the State Transportation Board, invoices and proof of payment will be required before reimbursement can be made.

A: Yes. However, non-cash contributions must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Identified in the AZ SMART application;
  • Were incurred after September 24, 2022;
  • Are tracked by, and verifiable from, the Applicant's records (such records will be required to be submitted for reimbursement);
  • Are not included as contributions for any other state or federal award; and
  • Are necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of Project or program objectives.

A: No. The AZ SMART Fund legislation does not require letters of support. In addition, the State Transportation Board has no authority to provide any preference for such letters and the Application does not enable them to be submitted.

A: No. AZ SMART is limited to federal discretionary grants. Congressionally Directed Spending does not qualify for the program.

A: The amount requested may not exceed the estimated cost for the applicable eligible use. In addition, the State Transportation Board may approve, deny, modify or request more information on any application.

Question: My city/town/county received an AZ SMART award for design and other engineering services for a project we intended to submit for a federal discretionary grant for construction. Subsequently, we received construction funding through another avenue (such as a legislative appropriation, private funds, federal earmark, formula federal aid, etc.). Do we need to repay the AZ SMART award?

Answer: Yes. Projects receive design funding from the AZ SMART Fund to facilitate a construction application for an applicable federal discretionary grant. If a federal discretionary grant is no longer needed to fund construction, the AZ SMART award must be repaid.

A: The enabling legislation restricts applicants to Arizona cities, towns and counties within certain population parameters. For more information, see Current Population Estimates prepared by the Office of Economic Opportunity, Arizona Department of Administration.

My city/town/county received an AZ SMART award for design and other engineering services for a project we intended to submit for a federal discretionary grant for construction. We applied for a federal discretionary grant but were not selected. Do we need to repay the AZ SMART award?

No. However, many projects are eligible under more than one federal discretionary grant program, and applicants receiving an AZ SMART Fund award for design are strongly encouraged to apply for all federal discretionary grants for which their project is eligible.

In addition, applicants are encouraged to request follow up meetings with US DOT to learn why their application was not accepted and identify how it could be made more competitive. A revised application for the same grant in a future cycle may result in an award.

A: The statutes restrict the program to projects that will be submitted for a “federal discretionary grant program administered by any federal agency for surface transportation purposes." Therefore, transit and rail projects are eligible but not airport projects.

A: ADOT does not provide grant writing services or assistance.

A: These contracts are limited to ADOT. Applicants will need to procure their own grant writing services in accordance with state law.

Grant Opportunities

It depends on the grant. The NOFO will indicate specific requirements and if awardees can be direct recipients or not. Some grants require that ADOT administer projects on the non-CA (Certification Acceptance) applicant’s behalf. Most grant funds are federal aid and are bound by applicable requirements and processes specific to the NOFO.

In most cases, local match or non-federal funding will be required; the NOFO for each grant opportunity will specify the minimum match. It is important to note that the federal grant programs are highly competitive and the Grantor may consider the level of non-federal funding from the applicant as an evaluation criterion.

No. ADOT’s non-federal funds may only be used for ADOT projects. Local entities must use their own funds for matching federal grants.

It depends on the grant. The NOFO will indicate the eligible road classifications and/or projects. In general, however, if a road/project is not eligible for regular federal aid, it is unlikely it will be eligible under USDOT/FHWA grant programs. There may be grant opportunities specific to local, tribal, BIA or county road systems (visit grants.gov for available opportunities).

Yes. However, ADOT prefers to be the applicant for its system based on statewide priorities. Please contact the Grant Coordinator for further information.

ADOT’s LPA Section and the ADOT Project Manager will work with the local entity to determine:

  • Project Development Administration (PDA) cost; and
  • Construction Engineering (CE) cost.

The applicants should account for ADOT’s PDA cost and CE cost in their project cost estimates if they are anticipating ADOT to administer the project.

An IGA or a JPA is required if the local entity is the successful recipient, and the grant requires ADOT administer the project on behalf of the local entity. If the local entity is a CA agency or the grant allows for the local entity to be a direct recipient, an IGA/JPA may not be needed. When ADOT is submitting a grant application on behalf of a local entity that is an eligible grant recipient but not entitled to submit an application per the specific NOFO requirements, and ADOT will be administering the project if the local entity is the successful grant recipient, a letter of intent (LOI) signed by the local entity and ADOT is required before ADOT will submit the application on behalf of the local entity.

A letter of support (LOS) provided by ADOT indicates that ADOT is recommending the project for funding and does not constitute ADOT's agreement to administer the project. A letter of intent (LOI) is sent to ADOT by a local entity and requests ADOT to administer a project if the grant is awarded with necessary commitments including financial responsibilities and future IGA/JPA. The LOI is countersigned by ADOT to indicate it agrees to administer the project.

Please complete and submit the ADOT Grant Coordination Support Request Form 30 days (recommended processing time) prior to your grant deadline date.

NOTE: A letter of support from ADOT merely means that ADOT is recommending the project be considered for funding. It does not constitute ADOT’s agreement to administer the Project.

No. A team involved with grant development will review the request and respond back with the decision as timely as possible.

If a local entity submits a federal grant application without coordinating with ADOT and going through the grant support process, ADOT may not have the capacity or resources to administer the project on behalf of the applicant.  For a successful grant development, early coordination with ADOT is strongly recommended.

Various federal agencies periodically publish Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) for transportation related programs and projects. Most grant opportunities require cost sharing from non-federal sources and are highly competitive. To be informed of federal grant opportunities, register at grants.gov.


Arizona has 83 airports in the State System Plan: 58 publicly owned airports, 14 Native American airports and 11 privately owned airports.

We do not fund private airport development.

ADOT provides funding to public airports to design and construct aviation facilities, to acquire land for airport purposes and to conduct planning and environmental studies. ADOT will fund 90 percent of a project to qualified public airports, and 95% for GA-Basic airports, and 50 percent of an airport's local share of a federally funded airport development grant.


All aircraft based in Arizona must be registered with the Motor Vehicle Division. Registration must be accomplished within 60 days of purchase or lease of an aircraft or no more than 60 days after an aircraft is brought into the state. Aircraft registration must be renewed no later than the last day of February.

There are more than 6,539 registered aircraft based in the state and 17,986 licensed pilots.

The FAA's Flight Standards District Office is the regulatory agency for flight safety. The Scottsdale, Arizona office can be reached at 480.419.0111.

FAA-Flight Standards District

The U.S. Department of Transportation oversees airline consumer issues such as denied boarding, lost baggage, overbooking, ticketing and statistics for on-time performance. This information, as well as information about shipping hazardous materials and other general travel-related questions are addressed at the USDOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division website.