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Project Management and Final Design

Project Management and Final Design Highway Project Classification
Capital Improvement Projects Safety Projects Asset Management Projects Maintenance Projects
1. Introduction x x x x
2. Design Funding Request x x x
3. Contract Modification To Final Design x x x
4. Final Design x x
5. Locate Utilities: Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) QL A or B (If Required) x
6. Drainage Design x x
7. Pavement Design x x x
8. Roadway Design x
9. Structural Design x
10. Engineering Agreements (Utilities) x x x x
11. Final Survey Report x x
12. Geotechnical Investigation x x x
13. Traffic Control Devices x x x x
14. Constructability Reviews x x x
15. Final Joint Inspection x x x
16. Right of Way Plans & Revisions x x x
17. Final Plan Development (Construction Plans or Proposals x x x x

1. Introduction

Once an alternative is selected and the transportation decision is documented (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] Document and Design Executive Summary [DES]), the project moves into final design. Details prepared for the selected alternative in final design are used to develop plans for ROW acquisition, utility relocation, and construction. The plans should contain details and quantities needed to bid and construct the proposed project, including a final cost estimate. The most important role of the PM during this phase is to constantly track and coordinate the activities and compare with the project schedule. The PM and PDT should work across disciplines to help each other coordinate efforts and resolve any project issues.

2. Design Funding Request 

For most KYTC Capital Improvement projects, project development is commonly broken into two phases (e.g., preliminary design and final design). This allows for the preliminary design process to generate a reasonable range of alternatives and select a more detailed project definition. These details are necessary to understand the type and amount of work needed in final design.

The PM initially requests enough funding to complete preliminary engineering and environmental work. After a transportation decision is made and adequately documented, the PM then requests additional funding for the completion of final design. Final Design Funding Authorizations mirror the process used in the initial funding request.

An exception to the two-phase process might include small bridge replacement projects, where alternatives are limited, and the scope is well defined. In this case, the PM might decide to combine the preliminary and final design into one phase, resulting in just one design funding request.

Red Flag

Design Funding Authorization may take several months once the request is submitted, especially at the start of a new biennium and new Enacted Highway Plan. The KYTC’s Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow (SHIFT)KYTC’s data-driven, objective approach to compare capital improvement projects and prioritize limited transportation funds. SHIFT helps reduce overprogramming and provides a clear road map for construction in the coming years. The formula applies to all transportation funding that isn’t prioritized by other means, such as maintenance work, local government projects and dedicated federal funds. process helps to prioritizes projects based on risk, funding, and KYTC’s strategic plan. When multiple Design Funding Requests are submitted, the PM should communicate the projects’ needs and risks to the Central Office to assist with project prioritization. For time-sensitive projects (e.g., those whose on-time delivery are placed at risk if an activity on the critical path does not begin on time), the PM should communicate thru the respective CO Liaison, to Program Management, that an expedited Design Funding Authorization process is needed. FHWA must approve funding requests on Federal-aid projects, which adds review time.

FHWA requires a final, approved NEPA document before it will authorize a PR-1 form to allocate additional federal funds for final design. Refer to FHWA Order 6640.1A for detailed information on what activities are permissible during the NEPA process.

 Side Note

FHWA provides several examples of activities that are part of preliminary design that are necessary to adequately analyze alternatives. These examples include horizontal and vertical alignments, environmental assessments, topographic and boundary surveys, geotechnical investigations, hydrologic/hydraulic analyses, traffic studies, and other information needed to evaluate project alternatives.

Examples of activities FHWA may consider as final design include final design details for a specific alternative (final plans, final quantities, final engineers estimate), contract modification for a consultant to provide final plans for a project (if applicable), right-of-way (ROW) plan development, and utility relocations.

3. Contract Modification to Final Design

If consultant services are used on a project where additional phases of work are added to the scope, the contract must be modified, and the schedule adjusted. The Division of Professional Services helps the PM with contract modifications. A contract modification is negotiated using the same procedure as the original contract.

The Division of Professional Services webpage contains helpful tools and guidance, including the Professional Services Guidance Manual (Section PS-15-06). Also refer to the Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-205).

Review the HKP Article Understanding a Consultant Contract (coming soon) for more information on consultant contracts.

Red Flag

The review process for contract modifications is similar to the review process for the original contract. The Division of Professional Services finalizes the contract and sends it through KYTC’s approval process. When the Division of Professional Services receives eMARS approval (indicating the contract has been automatically filed with the LRC Government Contract Review Committee) the Division sends a notice to proceed and approval for payment to the firm, which indicates it may begin work and bill for services.

4. Final Design 

Final design generates the detailed plans and documents needed for ROW acquisition, utility relocation, permitting, and construction of the selected alternative. The final design must incorporate (1) resolutions to project-specific issues or special circumstances identified in the preliminary design phase and (2) information in the approved DES.

During final design, if changes are made to the controlling design criteria, project scope, or budget that result in the project budget being more than 15% over the budget listed in the Enacted Highway Plan, the changes must be approved through the Location Engineer and then documented in an amendment to the DES. See Section HD-203.6.2 of the Highway Design Guidance Manual for more information.

When activities in one subject-matter area influence work in another during final design, an iterative approach should be adopted during the revision process. Work between subject-matter areas can and should overlap. During this phase, the PM relies on the critical path schedule to target work progress and to identify strategies to keep the project moving forward. Refer to the HKP Articles Project Schedule and Development of Milestones (coming soon) and Monitoring Scope, Schedule, and Budget (coming soon) for details.

Red Flag

A PM should organize project files using consistent naming conventions and a systematic organizational framework, with one location for all project documents. Throughout project development — but especially during the final design, ROW, and utility phases — updates occur frequently, and a clear organizational system is critical for keeping track of files. For further information concerning ProjectWiseKYTC’s current document management system. It is utilized to electronically manage, find, and share CADD files, geospatial content, project data, and office documents.  and folder structure, refer to KYTC CADD Standards and ProjectWise Standard Project Folder Structure.

The members of a PDT may change between preliminary design to final design. When a new member joins the team or an existing member takes on a new role, the PM and/or other members who have experience working on the project should help to coordinate the work of people occupying new roles. To prevent progress from stalling out if someone leaves the PDT, make sure to maintain clear and thorough project documentation — this is non-optional, it must be done!

5. Locate Utilities: Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) QL A Or B (If Required)

Sometimes the PDT may need SUEThe SUE process combines civil engineering, surveying, and geophysics. It utilizes several technologies, including vacuum excavation and surface geophysics to determine more precise locations of existing underground utilities. Quality Level (QL) A or B surveys to complete final design. These surveys are especially useful in areas with multiple underground utilities that potentially conflict with proposed construction. Conflicts can significantly delay projects. SUE QL A or B survey data are used to determine if it is feasible to design around utilities instead of relocating them.

Think of SUE QL A or B surveys as activities performed during the utility phase unless potential impacts are severe enough for the PDT to further evaluate alternatives prior to selecting the preferred alternative. In this case, design funds could be utilized for the SUE work earlier in the design phase.

Redesigns may be needed if any of these facilities are within the project footprint — large gas transmission lines, water mains, buried fiber optic cable, and other facilities whose relocation will result in costs or delays disproportionately large compared to the overall project budget and schedule.

Even if a utility relocation is not reimbursable (i.e., direct costs will not impact the project budget), the PDT may elect to avoid the facility if relocation work would significantly impact the project schedule.

Advertisements for consultant services should mention that the consultant will be required to survey utilities to different QLs as needed during project development.

For additional information refer to FHWA SUE and KYTC Design Manual HD-304 Surveying-Utility Location

 Side Note

The PM has several options for acquiring SUE QL A surveying. Using a letter agreement for statewide surveying services may be faster than modifying the original consultant contract.

6. Drainage Design

A proposed drainage plan for the selected alternative includes culverts and headwalls, inlets and storm sewers, bridges, temporary drainage, and project-specific drainage needs. Proposed drainage plans must contain economical and hydraulically feasible solutions that comply with KYTC’s policies, specifications, and standards. Early and continued coordination by the PM with the Central Office Drainage Engineer assigned to the district office is essential to the drainage decisions made on the project.

Once the drainage design meets the PDT’s expectations, all relevant information is placed into ProjectWise at the appropriate location. The submittal format facilitates the organization of documents as well as the review process. The PM provides the drainage submittal to the Central Office Drainage Section. Drainage submittals are required on most projects that:

  • Contain major drainage structures, including structures used to transport water directly through, or which delay the flow of water into or away from, the roadway system; or
  • Include extensions of existing structures or improvements to those structures or drainage systems.

The exception is bridge replacement projects included in the Statewide Bridge Project Delivery Services. The goal of these projects is to replace a bridge in-kind and in the same location so that the size of the existing bridge’s hydraulic opening is matched or exceeded. A risk assessment is required for all crossings classified as bridges on these type projects, as defined in the Drainage Manual (Section DR-807), to determine the risks and required level of hydraulic analysis. A full drainage submittal may not be required.

The Division of Highway Design uses two drainage submittals: preliminary and final. Typically, preliminary drainage submittals are not required unless bridges, bridge-sized culverts, storm sewers, or major channel changes are among the drainage features. A third submittal — the advance situation folder — is primarily used by the Division of Structural Design. The Highway Design Guidance Manual (Sections HD-204.13 and HD-204.20), Drainage Manual (DR-300), and Structural Design Guidance Manual (SD-200) contain detailed instructions on procedure and format.

A drainage inspection meeting — which the PM is responsible for scheduling — is held for each project. It is often combined with the Final Joint Inspection meeting (refer below to Section 15 Final Joint Inspection), with comments on drainage design being incorporated into the meeting minutes. If a project or the drainage design are complex, a separate drainage inspection meeting may be held. Whether the drainage inspection meeting is combined with the Final Joint Inspection meeting or held independently, its purpose is to review material submitted in the preliminary folder and let subject-matter experts (SMEs) ask questions about elements of the submittal they are unclear on.

A separate drainage inspection report is prepared when a drainage inspection meeting is held, or if the PM deems it appropriate. Regardless of how minutes are documented, discussions on drainage design are placed in the drainage inspection report. This report:

  • Summarizes written comments from SMEs on the drainage design as well as responses from the PM and/or drainage designer, and
  • Documents that all personnel concur with the final drainage design (including modifications made based on SME reviews of the initial design).

When project plans call for larger drainage designs and features (e.g., bridges), the drainage inspection report also:

  • Recommends location, span arrangement, and abutment type as well as the sounding layout for drainage structures, piers, and abutments, and
  • Documents if scour analysis is needed, which is determined during the geotechnical investigation.

The PM must ensure the report includes the Central Office Drainage Engineer’s endorsement of the drainage inspection meeting minutes and comments.

The final drainage submittal:

  • Includes recommendations from the review process
  • Serves as the permanent record of the project drainage plan
  • Contains all required information to support the selection of drainage items proposed in plans
  • Documents final resolution(s) of drainage inspection comments

In the event of flooding and subsequent lawsuits by plaintiffs whose properties are damaged by high water, the final drainage submittal contains materials KYTC will cite as evidence to justify and defend its decision making.

Variations on current practices and standards incorporated into the drainage plan are fully documented in the final drainage submittal. Once the final drainage submittal is approved, the PM needs to make sure that the approved submittal is included in the project folder for future reference and documentation.

 Side Note

The advance situation folder is treated as an order form that instructs the Division of Structural Design to either begin structure design or to direct a consultant to begin this work on KYTC’s behalf. The advance situation folder should contain explicit requirements identified by the PDM and PDT project team. Once the advance situation folder is submitted to the Division of Structures, a sounding layout is prepared to guide drilling for structures, piers, and abutments. The PM should ensure that this folder is submitted in a timely manner to allow for field work needed for the Geotechnical work.

Red Flag

The installation of drainage structures can present significant challenges related to constructability and maintenance of traffic (MOT). Of particular concern are pipe culverts with either little cover or extraordinarily deep cover heights. The PM may consult construction SMEs to identify strategies that minimize cost and project delays during later work phases.

Many local governments have ordinances, codes, guidelines, or other requirements that influence roadway drainage design for projects in their jurisdictions. KYTC completes additional coordination with local governments that have specific drainage criteria, including the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG.) Consult the Drainage Guidance Manual and drainage SMEs for assistance.

7. Pavement Design

The PM and PDT need to draw on resources from several Divisions to design a pavement structure that will support the traffic load and distribute it to the roadbed. These include:

  • Division of Planning
  • Division of Structural Design’s Geotechnical Branch
  • Division of Highway Design Pavement Branch

With the help of staff in these Divisions, the PM records the project-specific conditions and decisions made during the pavement design process.

Typically, the PM determines who develops the pavement design, although the Pavement Design Responsibility Chart (Figure 1) is used to determine the submission and approval. The pavement design is typically developed and submitted for approval after an alignment is chosen, traffic data is obtained, and existing soil properties are assessed by the Geotechnical Branch.

Figure 1- PAVEMENT DESIGN RESPONSIBILITY (Recreated from KYTC Design Manual, Pavement Design Section HD-1001.2)

Criteria* Submitted By Approved By Type Selection Justification and LCCA** Required Type Selection Determined By
On the NHS Central Office TEBM for Pavement Branch State Highway Engineer and if required, FHWA Yes State Highway Engineer
Structural Overlay Or AADTT > 4,000 C.O. Pavement Branch Staff or Project Manager C.O. TEBM for Pavement Branch Yes*** State Highway Engineer
AADTT ≥ 1,000 and ≤ 4,000; or ≥ 5 Lane Miles Project Manager C.O. TEBM for Pavement Branch Yes State Highway Engineer
< 1,000 AADTT and < 5 Lane Miles Project Manager District TEBM for Project Development No Project Manager

*Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic (AADTT) is current year data. NHS is the National Highway System(NHS)A network of nationally significant highways within the United States approved by Congress. NHS includes the Interstate Highway System and over 100,000 miles of arterial and other roads. .

** LCCA – Life Cycle Cost Analysis

*** Structural Overlay requires Type Selection Justification and LCCA if overlay is adding more      than 4 inches of new pavement.

Figure 1- PAVEMENT DESIGN RESPONSIBILITY (Recreated from KYTC Design Manual, Pavement Design Section HD-1001.2)

The Highway Design Guidance Manual (Sections HD-1001.2 – HD-1001.3) lists responsibilities related to pavement design preparation, submittal, and approval.

Pavement Branch staff provide technical assistance, review and advice, training, and support. Consult the Pavement Design Guide when preparing pavement designs for new construction or full-depth reconstruction projects. The PM may also request pavement designs from the Central Office Pavement Branch by submitting a request to the Transportation Engineering Branch Manager (TEBM) of the Pavement Branch.

Kentucky uses AASHTO’s mechanistic empirical (ME) pavement design process and AASHTOWare’s Pavement ME software. For most new and reconstructed pavements in Kentucky, designers use Pavement ME. A 20-year design life is recommended if Pavement ME is used to develop the structural design. Pavement Branch staff help the PDT tailor solutions to project-specific conditions.

Pavement designs should be adapted to the conditions and characteristics of each project location and depend on engineering factors, including:

  • Traffic
    • Consider both total volume and the percentage of truck traffic when selecting pavement type.
    • Upon request, the Division of Planning will provide traffic forecast values for Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic (AADTT), Average Daily Traffic (ADT), and Percent Trucks (%T)
  • Subgrade Characteristics
    • The load-carrying capacity of a native soil is of utmost importance in pavement performance. The Geotechnical Branch offers guidance and makes recommendations on subgrade stabilization. Upon request the Geotech Branch will provide subgrade strength values such as Resilient Modulus (MR) and California Bearing Ratio (CBR).
  • Construction
    • Speed of construction, MOT stages, anticipated future widening, and ease of replacement may influence the selection of pavement type.
  • Cost
    • Initial construction costs, the cost of subsequent stages or corrective work, anticipated life, maintenance costs, and costs to road users during periods of reconstruction or maintenance are all important considerations.

The PDT initially selects hot mix asphalt (HMA) bound material or Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) pavement (flexible or rigid). Alternate Pavement Type Bidding (AD/AB) procedures may generate project savings if one pavement type does not hold a clear advantage over another.

 Side Note

A Special Note is used in plan documents to record the use of nonstandard and new materials, equipment, or prescribed testing. Visit the Pavement Branch website for Special Notes.

All pavement designs shall be submitted electronically via the web-based pavement design application. For detail refer to  KYTC Pavement Design Web Application

Red Flag

To avoid delays in finalizing a pavement design, the PM should request traffic data from the Division of Traffic and soil characteristics and the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) from Geotechnical staff as early as possible in project development.

An excessive number of pavement mix designs can increase construction bid pricing and unnecessarily complicate general bookkeeping. The PDT should review mix requirements and consolidate them as much as possible, using input from Pavement Branch and Materials staff.

For more information on pavement design visit the Pavement Branch website and consult the Pavement Design Guide.

8. Final Roadway Design

Final design addresses several project-specific topics. The outcome of final design is a set of plans, profile sheets, cross sections, and the necessary detail sheets. For further information concerning KYTC CADD Standards and the delivery of contract plans and proposals, including Electronic Engineering Data (EED), refer to CADD STANDARDS POLICY MANUAL.

During final design — if not earlier — roadway design staff with the oversight of the PM, engage in and complete work on numerous topics, including:

  • Intersections
  • Roadside safety and guardrail design
  • Pavement design
  • Drainage submittal development
  • Item quantity takeoff measurements for the general summary, pavement summary, and drainage summary (bid item quantities and types)
  • Final earthwork volume measurements according to each material classification
  • Construction estimate
  • Erosion control plan details
  • Construction notes and temporary traffic control measures
  • Traffic Management Plan (TMP), including the Traffic Control Plan (TCP) Traffic Control Plan (TCP)The TCP should outline specific requirements for proper maintenance and control of traffic during construction. This includes Maintenance of Traffic Detail Sheets and Notes included in the final plans. and a Public Involvement Plan (PIP)For certain KYTC projects a PIP should be developed thru coordination with the district public information office (PIO) and district project delivery and preservation (PD&P) staff to provide accurate and timely information to the public concerning project start dates, road closures, etc. when applicable
  • Signing and pavement markings/striping plan
  • Pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities design
  • Proposed ROW and easements
  • Deed descriptions for proposed ROW
  • Finalization of plan deliverables (including electronic files)

Red Flag

A Value Engineering (VE) StudyA systematic process of review and analysis of a project, during the concept and design phases, by a multidiscipline team of persons not involved in the project, that is conducted to provide recommendations for: Providing the needed project scope safely, reliably, efficiently, and at the lowest overall cost; Improving the value and quality of the project; and Reducing the time to complete the project. study may be required. The PM should consult current FHWA requirements to determine which projects require a VE Study. These are scheduled through the Quality Assurance Branch. Except for projects with a well-defined scope, VE studies should be conducted around the time an alternative is selected during preliminary design. For large bridge replacement projects, a good time to schedule a VE Study is during final design. For additional information refer to KYTC Highway Design Manual Sections HD-104.2.8 , HD-203.7.4 and  FHWA VE Document.

Building the roadway and supporting structures is the primary goal of most highway projects.  As such, the designer’s plans are often the focal point of the project’s construction documents, thus, construction SME’s should be consulted thru-out the project development process. The PM and designer must communicate with the other PDT members to convey the design intent (especially as new details are derived). Conversely, as SMEs make decisions and uncover new project details, they should relay this information back to the PM and designer, especially if they affect the road design and/or needs that should be included in the plans.

9. Structure Design

For projects designed by KYTC staff, the PM submits to the Division of Structural Design all necessary data for analysis and design (including the Advance Situation Survey and Advance Situation Folder).

When a consultant prepares designs for bridges, box culverts, tunnel liners, retaining walls, and noise barriers, the consultant coordinates and submits the information to the Division of Structural Design for review and approval. This coordination should be captured in their monthly reports submitted to the PM. The review process has five phases:

  1. Advance Situation Folder (serves as the “order form” for structure plans)
  2. Preliminary Plans, Stage 1 (Preliminary structure plans submitted for review. Upon completion of the Stage 1 Preliminary Plans, the Division of Structural Design will determine whether Stage 2 Preliminary Plans are required)
  3. Preliminary Plans, Stage 2 (if required- Includes preliminary plans with revisions from the Preliminary Stage 1 review)
  4. Final Plans, Stage 1 (Detailed structure plans, including design, details, special notes, and quantities submitted to Division of Structural Design for review)
  5. Final Plans, Stage 2 (Final structure plans with any changes from Stage 1 Final plans review, to be included in the final plans submitted for a letting)

Detailed format and content requirements for the submittal are described in the Structure Design Guidance Manual, Drainage Guidance Manual, and Highway Design Guidance Manual (Sections HD-204.20 and HD-207.11).

The purpose of a PM’s review of early-stage and final structure plans is to ensure a structure’s design aligns with the project’s intent and does not conflict with other project details (e.g., utilities, MOT, environmental concerns, barrier considerations).

The Geotechnical Report should be completed prior to the Advance Situation Folder submittal, otherwise the final structure design will be delayed due to the time needed to finish geotechnical work.

For bridges with wall-type abutments, a spill-through–type structure is generally more economical than a short-span structure with tall abutments. Selection of bridge type should be coordinated by the PM in concert with Division of Structural Design.

Often, the Standard Specifications adequately address the demolition and disposal of existing structures. In some cases, special demolition instructions may be needed, such as when the partial demolition of an existing structure carrying traffic is necessary.

Project details that complicate structure design (and the other phases of project development) include:

  • Curved bridges
  • Phased construction
  • Steel bridges
  • Railroad overpass or underpasses
  • Hydraulic requirements

Red Flag

Bridges located on horizontally and vertically curved alignments cost more to design and construct than bridges on straight alignments. If a structure cannot be located outside a curved roadway segment, the next best option is to keep the bridge outside of pavement transitions. When it is apparent that a bridge alignment may need to be on a curved alignment, the PM and road designer should coordinate early with the bridge designer to identify structure options and determine the preferred bridge structure. 

If permits or approvals from other agencies are required (e.g., US Coast Guard [USCG], FHWA), or the structure is complex, significantly more time should be allocated for project development. Refer to KYTC Design Manual HD-501 Permits & Certifications.

For additional information about the Division of Structural Design and submittal procedures, see the HKP Article Division of Structural Design.

10. Engineering Agreements (Utilities) (If Required)

Engineering service agreements are keep-cost agreements that KYTC uses to reimburse utility company staff or an approved consultant for relocation engineering and administrative work. They may be established for engineering, accounting, legal, appraising, or consulting services and can be used for any of the following reasons: 

  • The utility company requires the immediate ability to invoice only engineering-related work.
  • Utility relocation will be included in the highway contract, and the utility company will not be directly reimbursed for construction costs.
  • The Cabinet has determined that utility relocation engineering should begin before U-phase funding is available (e.g., to help with the project schedule).

As noted in the HKP Knowledge Book- Sections 3,4, and 5: Identify and Contact Involved Utility Companies and Locate Utilities:

The PM, in consultation with the District Utility Section, may determine that the preliminary utility engineering relocation design should be initiated before the U-phase funding authorization. Initiation may occur as early as the start of roadway design. If the work is eligible for reimbursement, D-phase funds are used. Look at the HKP Article Project Time Management Data Gathering for more details. 

Early initiation is encouraged for the following project types:

  • Extensive utility work is needed and cannot be completed without early utility engineering.
  • Adhering to the project schedule is not possible without early utility engineering, and the letting date must be maintained.
  • The project includes complex utility relocations that require more extensive, time-consuming coordination efforts (e.g., impacts to gas transmission lines).
  • Utility easements must be procured, and preliminary engineering is required to identify the easement.

When engineering agreements are used, preliminary engineering (relocation design for the utility) is reimbursed by a separate agreement using a funding source that differs from what is used for utility relocation construction. Relocation construction may be reimbursed under a typical keep-cost or lump-sum relocation agreement.

 Side Note

D-phase funding may be used for utility engineering-related work like Subsurface Utility Engineering, engineering service agreements, and utility coordination. If this work is anticipated early enough in the project development process, the estimated design cost should include funds to account for utility design. D-phase funding cannot purchase utility easements or construct the physical utility relocation.

Red Flag

KYTC approval and authorization of engineering services (whether utility company personnel or their consultant) applies only to utility companies authorized to receive compensation for relocation work.

For additional information, refer to the KYTC Utilities and Rails Guidance Manual.

11. Final Survey Report

The Final Survey Report documents project survey details. The party responsible for the survey prepares and submits the report to the PM.

The District Surveyor or consultant PM (if applicable) must submit a PDF of the survey report to the KYTC Survey Coordinator for review. This report generally includes the following information:

  • Project name and identification, including:
    • County, Route, Mile Post, E.A., or Project Identification
  • Survey date, limits, and purpose
  • A scaled map (e.g., KML file) of the project area that shows all primary and supplemental (horizontal and vertical) control monumentation established along with appropriate designation.
  • Datum realization, epoch, geoid model, and units
  • Project datum factor (if used) that relates to the Kentucky State Plane Coordinates
  • Dated signature and seal of the Kentucky Professional Land Surveyor in charge, if a consultant survey crew is used
  • Description of all primary and project control found, held, or established
  • Closures of all traverses

For a complete list of items contained in the report, refer to Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-301.6). Refer to the Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-309.9.5) for more information on the Survey Report.

Survey pickup may be necessary at multiple times throughout final design as the designers encounter details that are new, or which require confirmation. The PM is encouraged to collect survey needs and strategically order the survey to maximize efficiency. Examples of this type of small-scale survey work include identifying a new building or feature, a disputed property boundary between two parcels, a developing slide, or septic lines. Having accurate knowledge of where existing structures are located and their boundaries is particularly Important to the design process. 

Red Flag

A survey report will not be accepted from a non-KYTC source unless it is signed, dated, and stamped by a Kentucky Professional Land Surveyor who has certified the accuracy of the submitted report and verified the accuracy of all control monuments established for KYTC.

If a project is temporarily shelved or otherwise delayed, surveys of existing topography and property lines may become outdated and inaccurate. If so, additional time and resources will be needed to update the existing digital terrain data.

Additional survey pickup or staking of the proposed ROW may be needed when ROW is acquired. Property owners often provide new or more accurate information than was previously available, and the staking of proposed ROW often helps the property owner visualize impacts to their parcel.

12. Geotechnical Investigation

The PM consults with the Geotechnical Branch to determine the level of geotechnical investigation. The level of effort ranges from advisory to a full-scale geotechnical analysis, with fieldwork, lab work, and reports for roadway, structures, or both.

Traditionally, the geotechnical investigation begins after the Preliminary Line and Grade meeting has been held and the alignment selection has been made. However, seeking and obtaining geotechnical information earlier in the project development process is invaluable for the PDT’s decision making. For example, if geotechnical recommendations for cut-and-fill slopes are proposed early, more accurate estimates of the disturbed area and the amount of ROW needed can be produced.  

The Highway Design Guidance Manual, Drainage Guidance Manual, Geotechnical Guidance Manual, and Structures Design Guidance Manual all contain information on the level of geotechnical investigation appropriate for a given project feature. More in-depth geotechnical investigations are needed where springs, landslides, mines, karst, faulted strata, acidic shale, mineral deposits, or other topographic or subsurface features are present.       

Large drainage structures require more extensive geotechnical field data collection and analysis than smaller structures. A large drainage structure meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • All bridges
  • Culvert pipes with a diameter (or equivalent) greater than or equal to 54”
  • Culvert pipes with improved inlets
  • All cast in place box culverts
  • All precast or metal box culverts 4’ span x 4’ rise or larger
  • All bottomless (3-sided) structures

Final plan development relies heavily on geotechnical report recommendations. The Geotechnical Branch provides the following sheets for inclusion in the roadway plan set:

  • Geotechnical notes sheets
  • Geotechnical symbols sheets
  • Soil profile sheets

The scale of soil profile sheets are commensurate with the project’s scale.

Soil profiles can be used to establish cut-and-fill slopes. CBR values can be used to develop the pavement design, cut and embankment stability sections, and rock refill. The designer determines the quantities of rock available from roadway excavation and the quantity needed for rock roadbed, embankment, and rip rap using information from the geotechnical report. Embankment foundations and/or transverse (profile) benches, granular embankment, or a proving period may be needed. 

 Side Note

The scope of geotechnical investigations is often minimized on projects selected for expedited delivery to reduce costs and maintain the desired schedule. When evaluating how much risk will be assumed by omitting or limiting the scope of geotechnical investigations, the PM should work with a geotechnical SME to prepare a geotechnical action plan that defines acceptable risk levels.

Red Flag

When performing early geotechnical field investigations, analyze the environmental setting to verify that no sensitive features (e.g., archaeology, forested habitat, special use stream, wetland) will be adversely impacted by geotechnical work (e.g., drilling). The PM, working with the district environmental coordinator and/or environmental SME’s, must decide if an environmental overviewThese studies are a preliminary assessment of possible environmental impacts that may result from the project and may require field evaluation, ranging from windshield survey to full environmental investigation, depending upon project complexity. should be conducted prior to geotechnical field investigations.

The Geotechnical Branch’s online database houses the results of KYTC geotechnical investigations. Additional geotechnical mapping and information may also be obtained from the Geotechnical Branch’s online database.

To retain flexibility in project work tasks and keep a project moving forward, a PM may want to consider initiating geotechnical fieldwork for the roadway investigation separately from the geotechnical fieldwork for the structures investigation.

Karst terrain (including sinkholes, closed drainage basins, sinking streams, caves, underground mine openings, fault lines and similar geohydrological features) requires additional investigation and analysis during design. Stringent guidelines for drainage design and construction are in place and must be adhered to if sinkholes will be used for drainage.

Potentially adverse pH conditions in the surrounding soils and geology should be evaluated. Elevated acidity can result from strip mining or other actions that expose acid-producing soils, acid shale seams, or other acid-producing formations. Additional requirements during design and construction should be expected where these conditions are present.

A common source of plan error is omitting recommended quantities from the geotechnical report. To avoid this pitfall, it may be helpful for the report to list where rock and fabric are recommended to deal with the presence of saturated soil. Omitting these quantities from the plan quantities can result in overruns or change orders.

For more detailed information concerning the Geotechnical Process, visit the HKP Article Geotechnical Investigations – Where to Begin and How to Proceed.

13. Traffic Control Devices

Traffic control devices regulate, inform, warn, and guide roadway users. Examples of traffic control devices are: 

  • Signing
  • Pavement markings
  • Electrical traffic control devices (including traffic signals)
  • Lighting

Note: Some transportation agencies are moving towards Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Plans. TSMO is a set of strategies that aim to optimize the safe, efficient, and reliable use of existing and planned transportation infrastructure for all modes. The goal is to get the most performance out of existing transportation facilities and implement comprehensive solutions that can be implemented quickly at relatively low cost. KYTC is in the process of developing a TSMO Plan, including a training program for staff and partners. The plan is anticipated to implement TSMO strategies for all areas of the cabinet including performance-based flexible design, ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) projects, and work-safety improvements in a construction work zone.

For more information about TSMO, refer to the FHWA article Organizing and Planning for Operations.

The PM, with input from the District Traffic Engineer, is responsible for identifying and including appropriate traffic device plans in the total plan set.

Once locations are identified that may require signal, signing, and/or lighting plans, the PM notifies the District Traffic Engineer and Central Office Traffic Operations. The PM should notify the District Traffic Engineer of project meetings and inspections as early in the process as feasible. The District Traffic Engineer will send a written request and provide appropriate supporting information to Central Office Traffic Operations.

The Division of Traffic Operations provides oversight when a consultant designs signing, signals, or lighting devices. Oversight takes place during plan development and through a review of final plan details. The Division of Traffic Operations may also design devices in-house and coordinate project details with the PM.

Road projects generally include the design and installation of one or more of the following devices:

  • SIGNS: New sign installation plans are prepared for interstates, parkways, and other high-volume, limited-access roads that include interchanges. See the Traffic Operations Guidance Manual (Section TO-400) and Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-1201.2).
  • PAVEMENT MARKINGS & DELINEATION: Like signs, pavement marking plans are prepared for interstates, parkways, and other high-volume, limited-access roads that include interchanges. See the Traffic Operations Guidance Manual (Section TO-500) and the MUTCD.
  • ELECTRICAL TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES: The PDT may choose to modify existing electrical devices or install new electrical devices on a project (e.g., traffic signals, advance warning flashers, railroad-warning system, flashing beacons, school flashers). When this occurs, the District Traffic Engineer forwards the recommendation to Central Office Division of Traffic Operations, Traffic Engineering Branch (on the PM’s behalf). It contains roadway plan details, traffic counts, traffic projections, and crash history. See the Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-902) and Traffic Operations Guidance Manual (Section TO-600) for more information.
  • LIGHTING (e.g., conventional light poles, high-mast lighting): The process for requesting lighting designs and plans is described in the Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-902.7) and Traffic Operations Guidance Manual (Sections TO-701 – TO-716).
  • MISCELLANEOUS: The PM should talk with the District Traffic Engineer and the Division of Traffic Operations when making decisions about rumble strips, runaway truck ramps, and work zone traffic control (Sections TO–801 – TO-803).
  • INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS (ITS): ITS improves transportation safety and mobility through the use of advanced communications technologies within the transportation infrastructure and in vehicles. For more information about ITS refer to KYTC ITS and USDOT-ITS

In 2012, the Division of Highway Design (No. 03-12) and Division of Traffic Operations (No. 01-12) issued a (Joint Memo) that explains procedures for developing plans for electrical devices as part of a roadway design project. Plans must be developed in accordance with all of the following:

  • Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) CAD Standards
  • Kentucky Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction
  • Traffic Operations Guidance Manual
  • Highway Design Guidance Manual
  • Division of Traffic Operations’ Roadway Lighting Standard Detail Sheets
  • National Electrical Code
  • National Electrical Safety Code
  • AASHTO’s Roadway Lighting Design Guide

Red Flag

When planning the installation of traffic control devices for a road project, it’s essential to carefully determine their placement. If the placement requires additional land, the designer should incorporate the required extra land into the right-of-way takings and make provisions for its acquisition through the right-of-way process.

To avoid conflicts (e.g., expensive utility impacts, time-consuming ROW purchases), the PM must coordinate the design of signs, signals, and lighting devices with all other design processes. Under no circumstances should this be postponed until the project letting nears.  

All sign supports located in the clear zone must have a breakaway design or be protected by crashworthy barriers. When struck by a vehicle, a breakaway sign support either separates from the base or yields, allowing the vehicle to run over it. When possible, coordinate sign placement with the barrier systems that will be used on the project. Once the traffic control devices and proper signage is approved by Central Office Traffic Operations, the PM coordinates with the Division of Structural Design on the structural design of sign supports.

For additional information refer to the Traffic Operations Guidance Manual.

14. Constructability Reviews

The Constructability Review (CR) Program is managed by the Quality Assurance Branch in the Division of Highway Design. CR’s are performed by construction personnel who have extensive knowledge of and experience with constructing KYTC projects. These reviews help ensure that projects are constructable, biddable, and can be maintained. The goal of a CR is to improve project quality and minimize potential change ordersAn amendment to a construction contract that changes the contractor’s scope of work. Most change orders modify the work required by contract documents (which, in turn, usually increases the contract price) or adjust the amount of time the contractor has to complete the work, or both. For there to be a valid change order, KYTC and contractor must both agree on all terms. during construction.

All KYTC projects are eligible for CR’s. The PM can submit a request for a CR directly to the Quality Assurance Branch. The PM should submit a request with plans to the Quality Assurance Branch before the Final Joint Inspection, so that comments from this review can be discussed at the inspection.

For more information on CR’s, refer to the Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-204.23).

15. Final Joint Inspection

All projects should have a Final Joint Inspection meeting. This meeting is held when the contract plans are approximately 80 percent complete. Construction, maintenance, traffic, structures, design, row, utilities, geotech, and drainage staff may be invited to attend and offer input. At this point, the plans reflect approved decisions from the DES, as well as all ROW and utility information, including identified relocations, detailed MOT information and plans.

Other design review meetings can be combined with the final inspection (e.g., a structure review for bridge replacement projects or the drainage inspection). During the Final Joint Inspection meeting the PDT and project-specific SMEs (e.g., environmental, ROW, utilities, construction, maintenance, traffic) review the project design and the proposed contract plans and documents.

The PM distributes electronic or paper (hard copy) versions of proposed plans before the meeting so they can perform a detailed technical review of the project’s design and prepare feedback. When scheduling the Final Joint Inspection Meeting, the PM should make sure the PDT has at least two weeks to review the plans. When appropriate, contract plans are made available to FHWA as well as the city or county. This technical review provides reasonable assurances that the project design is complete, accurate, and high quality. Contract plans are also made available to the PDM and the Location Engineer. A construction cost estimate detailing biddable quantities is included.

Another goal of the review is to confirm that the roadway design information found in contract documents will effectively communicate the engineering details, facilitate construction contracting, and help to achieve project construction that is consistent with KYTC requirements and specifications.

 Side Note

Because representatives from multiple specialty groups attend the Final Joint Inspection, the meeting can have a large number of attendees. As such, its success hinges on good planning and focused discussions. The PM can take the following steps to ensure a successful Final Joint Inspection meeting:

  • Create and distribute a systematic agenda.
  • Focus attendees by using a single display for the entire room.
  • Designate one meeting facilitator who is responsible for keeping discussions moving.
  • Group agenda topics according to the specialties represented (i.e., team members may wish to attend only discussions relevant to their expertise.)
  • Documentation of the Final Joint Inspection is very important and includes meeting minutes, topics discussed/potential solutions, sending these minutes out for comments, and finalizing this information in the project file. Documentation provides information that may be needed for future reference when a question or issue comes up about the project.

The District Environmental Coordinator (and environmental SMEs) may review plans at the Final Joint Inspection to verify environmental commitments are accurately documented. During the meeting, the PM should remind the PDT of commitments made in the NEPA document. For example, impacts to historic properties should be reviewed and taken into account when ROW plans are generated (a task regularly completed after the Final Joint Inspection). Follow through after the Final Joint Inspection can prevent the erroneous purchase/demolition of an eligible structure. Refer to Design Memo 01-18 for additional guidance. 

Red Flag

Typically, the Final Joint Inspection meeting should not be scheduled before the following are complete:

  • Geotechnical investigation
  • Pavement design
  • Drainage design
  • Roadway design

Final Joint Inspection meeting attendees should be given at least two weeks to go through review materials. Schedule the distribution of review materials accordingly.

Once the Final Joint Inspection has been held and comments have been addressed, the PM must submit check prints, a cost estimate, and an estimated completion date to the Plan Processing Branch for review prior to the submittal of the Contract Plans. These check prints should be submitted approximately 3.5 months before the scheduled letting.

For additional information refer to HKP Article Preparing for Letting (coming soon).

16. Right of Way Plans & Revisions

The PDT considers many factors when establishing limits for the proposed ROW. The extent of ROW must be sufficient to accommodate the construction and maintenance of the new roadway and structures. Access control type(s) affects new ROW limits as well as the location of entrances or approach tie-ins. Deed research undertaken as part of survey work clarifies the existing ROW and property boundaries and is used to identify prior easements or rights (e.g., mineral rights or access) that must be addressed during ROW acquisition. It may be appropriate to acquire permanent fee-simple ROW, permanent easements, temporary easements, or some combination of these. 

The PM should submit the ROW Plans after the Final Joint Inspection has been held once comments or edits to the plans have been addressed. The plans should include enough detail to ensure that adequate ROW or easements are shown to address side slopes, drainage ditches/structures, signs, utilities, waste sites, construction staging areas, MOT, and other requirements.

Whenever the PM and ROW personnel determine that ROW plans should be modified, a Right-of-Way Revision Sheet is added to the ROW plans. It is inserted directly after the layout sheet and numbered R1a; see the Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-208.6). Each time a revision is processed, the Right-of-Way Revision Sheet should be updated electronically, reprinted, and inserted into the plans. For some projects, the Director of Division of Right of Way and Utilities may adopt an informal version of this revision process. Regardless of the method used, it is important to meticulously track all changes. The District Right of Way Supervisor keeps the Director of the Division of Right of Way and Utilities apprised of the status of project plans and deeds.

Red Flag

For parcels that proceed to condemnation, the PM must identify and then preserve the plan version used at the time the suit was filed even if ROW revisions occur adjacent to the parcel being litigated. Office of Legal Services staff also require exhibits or prints, and those files must be similarly preserved.  

Adequate temporary easements must be provided around existing improvements if they will be demolished after ROW acquisition. Examples include pond dams and buildings.

Adequate ROW must be provided to maintain traffic and perform construction activities even if doing so produces a larger footprint than what is needed for the final roadway. 

17. Final Plan Development (Contract Plans or Proposals)

Contract plan sets are the highway plans awarded through the letting process. They are a product of the project development process and for a typical capital improvement project will consist of the roadway, structures, traffic, and/or utility relocation plans, along with any project specific detail sheets. When the PM submits contract roadway plans, estimates, and proposals to the Division of Highway Design’s Plan Processing Branch, all electronic file submittals must adhere to the standards outlined in the CADD Standards for Highway Plans. These standards have been established to ensure files are put to the best possible use during the review, publication, construction, and archival processes. The standards represent the minimum requirements for the development of highway plans. Visit the CADD Standards webpage for more information.

For more information on the submittal of final contract plans, refer to Highway Design Guidance Manual (Section HD-209).

Typically, Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), Asset Management, and Maintenance projects are developed and let to construction as Proposal Only projects. These are usually submitted on 8.5” x 11” sheets. It may be appropriate on certain projects to include 11” x 17” size sheets if more details are needed.

Typically, a proposal project will include project-specific specifications and detail sheets, along with bid item information. If typical section sheets, plan and profile sheets, drainage detail sheets, or cross-sections are needed, these are submitted on the same size sheets as mentioned above for proposal-only projects and are included in the details for the proposal.

Please refer to the appropriate KYTC Divisions for proposal development and submittal process.

Red Flag

Completing a final comparison of structure and roadway plans during final plan development is worthwhile, especially for reconstruction projects. For example, if a new structure’s beam arrangement conflicts with MOT plans for using the existing structure, the project will take longer, the contractor may file a claim, and a change order may become necessary. Finding and resolving these issues during design saves time and expense later.

19. Reference Documentation

KYTC Manuals and Information:

Design Manual (HD-203, HD-203.3.10, HD-203.5, HD-203.6, HD-204.23, HD-304, HD-600, HD-603, HD-700, HD-1300, HD-1401)

Complete Streets, Roads, and Highways

Right of Way Guidance Manual (ROW 403-2)

Utilities and Rails Guidance Manual (UR-1002)

Geotechnical Database

DEA Guidance Manual

Environmental Handbook

KYTC Design Manual:  


KYTC DEA Guidance Manual:

https://transportation.ky.gov/EnvironmentalAnalysis/Environmental%20Resources/DEA%20Gui dance%20Manual.pdf

KYTC CADD Standards:



KYTC Environmental Handbook:


KYTC Utilities and Rails Guidance Manual:


KYTC Complete Streets, Roads, and Highways:  KYTC’s Complete Streets, Roads, and Highways

KYTC Right of Way Guidance Manual:


KYTC Geotechnical Database:  https://kgs.uky.edu/kgsmap/kytclinks.asp

Highway Knowledge Portal Articles:

Environmental Approval:


Right-of-Way Acquisition:


Data Gathering, Sections 4 and 5, Locate Utilities:


Geotechnical Investigations – Where to Begin and How to Proceed:


Project Management and Right-of-Way: (Link coming soon

Project Management and Utilities & Railroads: (Link coming soon)

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