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Preparing for Letting


Note: The topic of Preparing for Letting appears in two Knowledge Books.

For a time management perspective, access the Project Time Management Knowledge Book.

To learn more about the project management process, access the Project Management Guidebook. 

road construction ahead sign
Preparing for Letting Transportation Project Classification
Capital Improvement Projects Safety Projects Asset Management Projects Maintenance Projects
1.0 Roadway (& Structures) Plans, Specs, & Estimates to Project Manager/Plan Processing & Review x x x
2.0 Advertisement and Questions and Answers from the Division of Construction Procurement Website x x x x
3.0 Utility Relocation Plans, Specs, and Estimates to Project Manager x x x
4.0 Utility and Rail Certification Note x x x x
5.0 Right of Way Certification x x x x
6.0 Environmental Clearance x x x x
7.0 Final Contract Plans & Begin Letting Process x x x x
8.0 Proposal Only Projects x x x x
9.0 Pre-Bid Meetings and Coordination during Construction x x x x
x = Information from the topic may be applicable for the project classification.

Project Flowchart for this Article

Flowchart of steps before letting

1. Roadway (& Structures) Plans, Specifications, & Estimates to Project Manager/Plan Processing & Review

On projects that include plans, the PM submits the following materials to the Plan Processing Branch approximately fifteen weeks before the scheduled letting date: 

    • Check prints (first submittal of final plans) 
    • Cost estimate
    • Estimated completion date 

The Plan Processing Branch returns plans to the PM with comments. The PM then makes necessary revisions to the plan set so that all appropriate items are included. See HD-200 in the Highway Design Guidance Manual for detailed formatting requirements for the components of a complete plan set. Final plans for projects with PS&E (plans, specifications, and estimates) must be submitted at least 49 days in advance of the letting to the Plan Processing Branch. Proposal-only projects processed by the Division of Construction Procurement must be submitted at least 35 days before the letting. The PM ensures that all materials needed for the letting process are submitted. 

The Plan Processing Branch’s website publishes a Letting Schedule every year.  The PM compiles final project components, performs bid-ability reviews, and assembles all the project plan sets (e.g., roadway, cross sections, utility relocation, traffic, and/or structures) and the branch ensures all the components are there.

A flowchart showing the process of submittals during the letting process

Deadlines vary by project type. A Final Plan Submittal Form is required for all projects that have plans. The Project Development Checklist (PDC) is a federal requirement. Guidance and submittal requirements are available on the form. Risk-based Projects (RBPs) are projects identified by the FHWA KY Division that require federal oversight of certain activities.  If FHWA has identified a project as an RBP with involvement in the PS&E activities, the PS&E package will need to be sent to FHWA for their concurrence at least 5 weeks prior to the letting.  Local Public Agency (LPA) projects have an LPA PDC which can be accessed through KYTC’s LPA Guide.

 Section 8 provides information on proposal-only projects.

Red Flag

If the final construction bid documents contain utility relocation plans, they are incorporated into the final plan set once they are received from the utility designer. More information is available in UR-1200 of the Utilities & Rails Guidance Manual. 

When a railroad is involved, special notes or provisions that were made part of the binding agreement between KYTC and the railroad company are included in the project proposal. Typically, the Division of Construction Procurement’s Plans, Specifications, and Estimates Branch requests from the Rail Coordinator Special Notes for Protection of Railroad Interest and Form TC 69-11 (Summary for KYTC Projects That Involve a Railroad). The Railroad Coordinator reviews final plans to confirm that the railroad company’s comments and requirements have been integrated into the plans.

2. Utility Relocation Plans, Specifications, and Estimates to Project Manager

Utility relocation plans document the work required to remove utility facilities from a proposed roadway work area and reestablish their preexisting functionality in a new location. Services and functions provided by relocated facilities must be identical to those provided before relocation.  The PM provides information about the location and scope of the project to the district utility supervisor or their staff for coordination with the utility companies in the project area.  The utility relocation plans are typically prepared by the utility company or their consultant, but they may also be prepared by the roadway designer. 

  •  When utilities are relocated as part of the highway contract, the PM incorporates final utility relocation plans into the final roadway plans.
  • When utility relocation is not part of the roadway contract, the PM may deem it necessary to include utility relocation plans in roadway construction documents for informational purposes only. The District Office Utilities Section may be able to provide utility relocation plans.

Utility relocation plans are required for compensable and non-compensable facility relocations. For more information on reimbursement for the relocation of utility facilities, see UR 203 and 204 in KYTC’s Utilities and Rails Guidance Manual.  If utility companies expect compensation, they must submit cost estimates.

Prompt submission of utility relocation plans helps the Cabinet ensure that: 

  • All relocated facilities avoid physical conflicts with the road project.
  • All relocated facilities avoid physical conflicts with other relocated facilities.
  • All facility relocations comply with the Cabinet’s utility accommodation policy.

KYTC roadway plan submittals incorporated into the bid package follow a prescribed schedule and process. Similarly, Utilities staff are responsible for submitting utility relocation plans that will be included in the bid package.  The PM must coordinate with the Utilities staff to ensure a timely submittal. 

3. Utility and Rail Certification Note


The PM must make sure every set of construction bid documents includes utility and rail certification notes that communicate (1) the presence, location, and relocation of utility facilities; (2) the presence and impact of railroad facilities; and (3) related structures. These notes inform contractors of facility locations and describe planned and completed facility relocations or adjustments. For planned facility relocations, the notes inventory incomplete utility construction work and its approximate completion date(s). They describe the presence of railroad facilities within the project area, or facilities that are close enough to potentially impact the project. When railroad facilities are expected to impact a project, railroad notes and documentation define expectations for bidding contractors concerning flagging service needs, insurance, and other considerations. 

Contractors review utility and rail certification notes when preparing bids. Additionally, construction personnel use the notes to: 

  •  Plan project execution. 
  • Identify possible hazards during excavation and grading activities.
  • Identify abandoned facilities.
  • Plan operations involving the use of cranes, booms, or other equipment that is of sufficient height to impact aerial facilities, encroach upon critical areas, or which may otherwise require consideration during ongoing utility work. 

The amount of detail in utility and rail certification notes varies according to project needs, the complexity of facilities described, project complexity, and the potential impact of utility facilities and related structures on a project. A certification note template and details are available in the Kentucky Utility and Rail Tracking System (KURTS). 

Red Flag

As per 23 CFR 635.309, on Federal-aid projects the utility and rail certification note must be delivered before bidding can be authorized. KYTC requires delivery of the utility and rail certification note prior to releasing construction funds on any project, including those without utility or rail impacts.

4. Right of Way Certification


The District Right of Way Supervisor prepares a Right of Way Certification (Form TC 62-226) and submits it to the PM and Director of the Division of Right of Way and Utilities.  The PM ensures that a signed certification is included in the final plan submittal documents. Form TC 62-226 is applicable to both state and federal projects. However, a Right of Way Certification must be submitted to FHWA for approval on all interstate projects and selected non-interstate projects with FHWA oversight before construction is authorized. For all other NHS projects, copies of the Right of Way Certification are submitted to FHWA for informational purposes only. 

RW-1302 in the Right of Way Guidance Manual lists all information included with the Right of Way Certification form. 

If a project letting is postponed, Right of Way Certifications with exceptions must be revised and resubmitted.

5. Environmental Clearance


Obtaining environmental clearance requires approval of a project’s completed environmental document. Except for some levels of categorical exclusions (CEs), the document must be approved by FHWA.  EA-404 in the Environmental Analysis Guidance Manual discusses approval requirements for CEs. State-funded projects do not require FHWA approval, but they may require an approval or permit from another federal agency that needs NEPA documentation (e.g., USACE permits, USCG permits, easements on federally owned property or federally designated lands [such as Daniel Boone National Forest]). 

Sometimes an environmental document is approved, and project commitments place requirements on construction activities (e.g., clearing restrictions). The Division of Environmental Analysis (DEA), the PM, and the District Environmental Coordinator (DEC) must ensure requirements are formally communicated to KYTC construction staff and contractors via the bid package and final contract documents. This may be done using a Communicating All Promises (CAP) or Special Notes in the project bid package. 

Communicating All Promises (CAPS) are commitments made to project stakeholders and the public. CAPs are included in the project database system. See HD-203.4 for more information.

A Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES) permit certifies construction activities do not violate Kentucky water quality standards (see EA-1108 in the Environmental Analysis Guidance Manual). The PM must verify a project’s bid package contains KPDES permit information. This information is to remain in the final contract documents. An individual KPDES permit must be obtained when planned construction activities will not meet Division of Water KYR10 general permit criteria (e.g., discharge into a Special Use Water). Irrespective of permit type, the PM prepares plan details required for the KPDES permit process. This typically includes topographic mapping of Disturbed Drainage Areas (DDAs). These areas are to be outlined, measured, and located by coordinates. The PM should coordinate mapping with the DEC. 

Red Flag

When a project delay postpones letting, the environmental clearance may expire before construction activities begin. The PM must communicate changes in the letting (i.e., current project status) to the DEC as they may need time to obtain reevaluations from the agencies that have jurisdiction. Environmental approvals do expire. EA-410 in the Environmental Analysis Guidance Manual notes how long documents associated with the NEPA process remain valid. 

Prior to requesting approval of Construction funds, all CE projects must be reevaluated to establish whether or not conditions have changed, rendering the CE classification invalid, unless there have been no changes and the CE has been approved within the last 90 days (see IV. CE Re-evaluations in the Categorical Exclusion Guidance Manual).

6. Final Contract Plans & Begin Letting Process


Final Contract Plans are the highway plans that will be awarded through the letting process. Contract Plan Sets are the product of the project development process and consist of the Roadway, Structures, Traffic, and/or Utility Relocation Plans.

The PM or a designee bundles the following items with the final contract plans submitted to the Central Office Division of Highway Design:

  • Final contract plans in a full-size PDF pursuant to the latest CAD Standards policy (these become the Record plans.)
  • A Final Plans Submittal Form
  • Information needed to create the proposal, including the following, when applicable:
    • CAP Report (even if the CAP has no entries) (HD-203.4)
    • Final estimate (including all items in the complete contract plans)
    • Project construction schedule (fixed completion date or maximum working days)
    • Permit and/or water quality certification (EA-1101)
    • Utility impact notes (even if there are no utility impacts)
    • ROW certification (even if there are no right-of-way impacts)
    • Special provisions for protection of railroad interest
    • Project-specific special notes or specifications
    • Approved Traffic Management Plan (TMP) (HD-206.3)
    • Best management practices (BMP) documents
    • Notice of Intent (NOI) documents
  • Supplemental electronic files (delivered via ProjectWise) required by the CAD Standards for Highway Plans. Note: Supplemental files are provided to bidders for informational purposes only.  The PM should review the 3D model prior to submittal.
  • On Federal-aid projects, the Project Development Checklist (PDC)

See CP-301 in the Construction Procurement Guidance Manual for more information on items the proposal may include.

Maintenance Project PMs enter project information and estimates into AASHTOWare Project. Information for other project types is entered by the Division of Construction Procurement. During letting, the Division of Construction Procurement (1) advertises highway projects, (2) receives bids to complete project work, and (3) awards projects to the low bidder, if approved by the Awards Committee. Each project receives a target letting date; it is KYTC’s intention to deliver all projects to letting on time. 

Red Flag

Submitting Final Contract Plans on time prevents scheduling problems and delayed lettings. When submitting Final Contract Plans, the PM must inform the Plan Processing Branch if additional information will need to be inserted into the plans. 

The documents prepared for letting should be complementary.  In case of discrepancy, Section 105.05 of Kentucky Standard Specifications notes the governing ranking:



  1. Calculated
  2. Scaled


  1. Questions and Answers from the Division of Construction Procurement Website
  2. CAP report
  3. Special Notes
  4. Special Provisions
  5. Plans
  6. Standard Drawings
  7. Supplemental Specifications
  8. Standard Specifications

7. Proposal Only Projects 

Less complex projects (e.g., maintenance, pavement rehabilitations, HSIP) often lack separate contract plan sets and are typically referred to as proposal-only projects. Section 6 lists information typically included in the proposal. Proposals are submitted to the Division of Construction Procurement at least five weeks prior to letting. Since there are no separate contract plans, a check-print submittal to the Plan Processing Branch is not required.  Proposal-only projects must meet the same requirements for environmental clearance, Utility and Rail Certification Notes, and right-of-way clearance discussed above. They must also include a cost estimate and estimated completion date.   

8. Pre-Bid Meetings and Coordination during Construction

Pre-bid meetings are sometimes held with potential contractors to explain complex issues and expectations, answer questions, and gauge levels of interest in the project.  Typically, if a project has a pre-bid meeting, attendance is mandatory for a contractor to bid on the project.  However, informational meetings may also be held. The PM notifies the Division of Construction Procurement that a pre-bid meeting will be held prior to advertisement. The PM develops an agenda and submits it to the Division of Construction Procurement for posting on its website.  After the meeting, the PM submits the sign-in sheet and meeting minutes to the Division of Construction Procurement.

During construction the PM for project development should be involved in any significant changes to the design. 

9. Advertisement and Questions and Answers from the Division of Construction Procurement Website

The Division of Construction Procurement advertises construction projects. The purpose of advertisements is to solicit bids from qualified contractors. Advertisements are distributed (1) not less than 21 days before the opening of bids on Federal-aid projects, or (2) not less than 7 days before the opening of bids on projects that are 100 percent state-funded.  The bulletins advertising the project lettings and project-related information are posted on Construction Procurement’s website. Project-related information includes information that is helpful to the contractor, but not part of the contract plans.

When KYTC receives questions during advertisements, the agency posts those questions and answers on the Division of Construction Procurement Questions and Answers webpage. Published answers are integrated into the contract between KYTC and the successful bidder.

The Division of Construction Procurement forwards questions to the PM, who then provides an answer to be posted to the website. Sometimes PMs forward questions to subject-matter experts (e.g., structural, geotechnical, traffic operations, consultants, district staff) for their input. Because lettings are time-constrained, the PM is responsible for quickly returning clear and informative answers. The PM should coordinate answers with the Construction and Construction Procurement staff. The question-and-answer process may prompt revisions or the addition of an item(s) into the bid documents package (e.g., changes to bid quantities and plan sheets). Changes must be made quickly to process an addendum to ensure the proposal remains in the letting and the contractors have sufficient time to put their best bid together.

10. Associated Articles

Project Management Guidebook Intro and Overview

Project Management & NEPA

Project Management & Right-of-Way

Project Management & Utilities

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