2.4. — Key Steps in the Program and Project Lifecycle

Program and Project Lifecycle

Program and Project Lifecycle 

2.4 - Key Steps in the Program and Project Lifecycle

The process of developing and funding conceptual projects that will one day be designed and constructed is complicated, and may exhibit slight variations from program to program and from region to region. The following sections are intended to capture at a very high level the keys steps that impact the project lifecycle as sequenced in the RACI matrix. The steps may alter slightly from year to year and in practice across a variety of programs.

2.4.1. — Statewide Needs

The project lifecycle begins with a statewide “needs” planning process, during which CDOT forecasts the long-term annual cost to meet its performance objectives for 12 assets classes. CDOT’s Policy Directive 14.0 describes these asset performance objectives, as well as performance objectives for safety and system performance.

CDOT staff and the Transportation Commission use the objectives in PD-14 (and the forecasted cost for achieving them) to inform the Department’s investments and budget development.

Regions will evaluate their funding requirements as well as determine the major projects they wish to be included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). These are sent to the Division of Transportation Development (DTD) where a statewide plan is developed with prioritized projects, performance targets, and preliminary planning totals. This group of activities concludes with the Transportation Commission’s approval of the annually updated STIP.  

2.4.2. — Statewide Program Planning and Funds Forecasting

The Program Distribution process allocates dollars by fund type, by region, and by fiscal year. This helps to inform the development and distribution of annual budgets. 

For asset management funds, the process of determining what projects will be programmed kicks off with an annual budget-setting workshop led by the Division of Transportation Development (DTD). At the workshop, each asset manager presents data to support the case for funding his or her particular asset. Senior decision-makers then use this data to develop a recommended “planning budget” for each asset in light of an overall, annual asset-management budget cap of $600-$700 million. This planning budget recommendation is typically set four years in advance—for example, FY25 would typically be set in FY21—so the Regions have the time to develop projects for the assets.

After the workshop, the recommended planning budgets are approved separately by the Transportation Asset Management (TAM) Oversight Committee and the Transportation Commission. After approval, they become CDOT’s official asset planning budgets. DTD then forwards the planning budgets to DAF, which can allocate funds to the Regions.

Final budgets for the assets typically do not deviate significantly from “planning budgets.” Final budgets are typically adopted the year before they begin. (For example, FY23 final budgets would typically be adopted in FY22).

2.4.3. — Region Program Planning & Allocation

The final major step in the project lifecycle involves the Regions creating deliverable projects based on their apportioned planning totals.

Projects begin as “treatments” for each asset. Each asset manager works with the Regions to develop a treatment list for his or her asset. These treatment lists—typically developed four years in advance—are then sent to DTD. DTD then schedules a meeting to secure approval of the treatment lists. Under CDOT’s Policy Directive 703, the lists can be approved by two of the following people: CDOT’s Executive Director (or designee—usually the Deputy Director), the Chief Engineer, or the Chief Financial Officer.

Once the treatment lists are approved, Regions staff (e.g., program engineers) begin the process of bundling treatments into larger projects. For example, bridge and culvert treatments may be bundled with a pavement treatment to create a larger project that achieves more efficient delivery/economies of scale.

After the projects have been developed, Regions begin the process of entering appropriate projects into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP.

This process is similar for region-led programs, such as the Regional Priority Program. The region takes the planning totals for each of the region-led funds and guides the prioritization and sequencing of the region’s projects. These projects will reflect cost estimates and have budgets established by each region, working from planning totals for each funding source. These budgets are monitored through the project’s life.