Project Development Process Overview

Project Development Process Overview

The project life cycle is a continuous process as enhancements and preservation projects on existing facilities are always ongoing.  The Department strives to plan, program, design, construct, and maintain quality transportation projects for travelers within the State of Arizona.

Phase I – Planning/Programming

ADOT projects may take many forms and involve various modes of transportation including passenger vehicles, freight, rail, aeronautics, transit, pedestrian and cycling.  Projects may be proposed by ADOT’s construction districts, various ADOT disciplines (e.g., Pavement Management, Bridge Design, Traffic Safety, Maintenance, etc.), Local Public Agencies, and private developers just to name a few sources.  The proposed projects are “pre-scoped” and competitively evaluated for funding. Selected projects are then placed into the State Transportation Improvement Program, in which projects are divided into five fiscal years of delivery.  ADOT’s fiscal year (FY) begins July 1 and ends June 30 the following year.

Phase II – Development/Design

Design is where the details are evaluated, alternatives evaluated and selected with the goal of advertising and constructing a quality project.  Projects published in the State Transportation Improvement Program may advance directly to design if adequately scoped.  Additional scoping may be necessary to satisfy the (National Environmental Policy Act) NEPA process, providing supporting information and documentation which further defines the project and/or reduces project risk.

The PM’s primary focus is managing the Scope, Schedule and Budget for each project.  Throughout the design process, the PM must balance the needs of the project against the desires of the stakeholders and the available budget, while navigating the complex, interrelated processes mandated by the funding sources.  The PMs foster communication between various design disciplines, as well as, both public and private interests.  Building project consensus is a process of communication, education, negotiation and compromise.

The project is closely monitored and evaluated for adherence to the requirements associated with the funding source and stakeholders.  The work to be performed on a typical project, typically broken out into specific tasks with deadlines, is referred to as the Scope of Services.  Changes to the Scope of Work to the project are evaluated by the Project Team, presented to the Project Review Board (PRB) for review and approval and documented in meeting notes, prior to being officially integrated into the project.

The targeted distribution of projects to be advertised in a fiscal year - 20/30/30/20

The Schedule is one of the most important measurements for projects.  The Department’s delivery goal is to distribute project advertisements throughout the FY to avoid a seasonal bottleneck of projects. The Department has adopted a target of 20/30/30/20, defined as 20% of the projects advertised in the 1st quarter of the FY, 30% in the 2nd quarter, 30% in the 3rd quarter, and 20% in the 4th quarter.  The PM develops the schedule with input from the Project Team and Stakeholders, monitors team progress, and facilitates strategies to return a slipping project to its published schedule.  Whether the project is being advertised by ADOT or the local agency, close adherence to the project schedule is critical to meet delivery goals.

The PM is also responsible for maintaining both the design and construction budget for a project.  Scope and schedule changes can greatly affect both of these budgets.  Incorporating new scope items into an existing project can require additional design work, which may require additional design budget.  Additionally, adding scope items or using more costly items can increase the construction cost of a project, which affects the construction budget.  It is the PM’s responsibility to monitor these budgets and ensure adequate funding is available to both design and construct the project.

The careful management of the Scope, Schedule and Budget generally results in the production of biddable construction documents.  These documents generally consist of Plans, Specifications and a Construction Estimate, and during development, are presented to the Project Team for review and comment at stage submittals (Stage I through Stage V).  The Stage Submittals represent sequentially increasing levels of detail culminating in the final set of Plans, Specifications and Estimate (PS&E).

Clearance documents are also required before ADOT can construct a project.  The three clearance documents are Environmental, Right-of-Way (ROW), and Utilities and Railroad (U&RR).  Ideally, all must be complete and approved before ADOT Contracts & Specifications (C&S) submits the Federal Aid Request for Authorization (FARA) forms to ADOT Financial Management Services (FMS).  FMS reviews and documents the request before forwarding to the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) for authorization, assuming the project is federally funded.  FHWA, in turn, reviews and approves the request against ADOT’s Obligation Authority.  The Project may now be advertised for bids.

Contractors may see the Advertisements either on the ADOT Contracts and Specifications website or in a local publication utilized by ADOT.  Interested contractors will obtain copies of the construction documents either in hard copy format or electronically, and if prequalified with the Department, submit a bid to perform the work. The bids are publicly opened, evaluated and the Department’s recommendation to Award the contract is submitted to the State Transportation Board for approval.

Sometimes projects are cooperatively developed and/or funded, all or in part, by outside entities (e.g., developers, public agencies, etc.).  In these cases a Joint Project Agreement (JPA) or an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) is necessary to document and define the ‘who, what, when, where and how’ for sharing and distributing the project tasks, responsibilities and costs.  The Project Manager (PM) is often the initiator of these legal documents.

Phase III – Construction

The Construction Phase begins after the State Transportation Board Awards a project to a contractor.  The Construction District is responsible for administering, monitoring, inspecting, documenting and accepting the activities of the Contractor, to achieve the intent of the design and construction contract.  The Resident Engineer (RE) is the Department’s lead agent during this phase.  If and when a change to the contract documents is warranted, the RE often consults with the design team in order to ensure design criteria and intent, ADOT guidelines and standards and state and federal law(s) are adhered to. 

With concurrence from the District Engineer (DE), the RE is responsible for accepting the construction phase of a project; work completed by the contractor, final quantities and any contract adjustments.

Field Reports Section is responsible for ensuring all necessary construction administration and oversight paperwork meets State and Federal guidelines, so the project close-out process can begin for the ADOT Finance Group.

Phase IV – Maintenance

The Maintenance Phase commences with final acceptance of the constructed project from the contractor.  At that time, the District’s maintenance and operations staff assumes responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the facility.  Maintenance personnel are present during the final construction walk-through. 

The District operations and maintenance personnel represent the interest of the ultimate customer (the taxpayers and highway users) on transportation projects. The Maintenance Phase is an opportunity for the Project Team, including design, construction and maintenance, to close the communication loop with the customer - to review how the design solutions met the project objectives, to critique the effectiveness of design details, to observe the performance of the constructed elements and to share lessons learned.

Project Life Cycle graphic