California Transportation Commission (CTC) staff recommendations for the statewide and small urban & rural components of the 2014 Active Transportation Program (ATP) were posted last Friday. The 145 projects listed in the recommendations will be presented to Commissioners for adoption at the August 20th CTC meeting in San Jose.
In addition to the proposed projects, our methodology used for identifying projects is discussed in the recommendation. Most of the questions I’m catching up with from the week are addressed by the narrative, but I’ll highlight some common inquiries.
My project is listed in the staff recommendation. Can I begin work now?
It’s completely premature to proceed with your project based on the staff recommendations. Staff recommendations are not notices of funding award or adoption of the program components. They serve as public notice to what will be presented to Commissioners. Adoption of the components can only take place when the Commissioners convene and take action (i.e. vote). Recommendations may be accepted, rejected, or modified at the meeting.
Furthermore, allocation of funds by the CTC and authorization to proceed by FHWA are critical steps required before beginning work. Failure to accomplish either of these tasks for a project included in the adoption would jeopordize funds. If you’re a project sponsor new to the federal-aid process, I recommend setting up a meeting with your District Local Assistant Engineer as soon as your project is adopted in the program.
Which actual projects are being recommended?
Separate project lists were created for each component:
- The statewide component programming recommendation can be found from page 10–12 of the agenda item. 124 projects have been identified for the $183.4 million of ATP funds designated for the statewide component.
- The small urban & rural component programming recommendation can be found on page 13 of the agenda item. 21 projects have been identified for the $37.4 million of ATP funds designated for the small urban & rural component.
How was the score for my project determined?
For most projects, it’s the average of the three evaluators’ scores (or two when a third score was not obtained). Outliers, however, were observed and addressed on some projects. As noted on page 5, it’s one of the reasons why staff recommendations deviated from those of Caltrans’:
Commission staff reviewed all project scores submitted by Caltrans, which in some cases reflected significant differences. Scores falling significantly outside (much lower or higher than) other project scores were identified. In these instances, Commission staff reviewed the individual project application to validate the reasonableness of the project scores. Scores with significant deviations from the scores of other reviewers that could not be validated were not included in calculating the overall score. The overall score is based on the average of the scores determined to be reasonable.
Here are some examples of projects with significant differences in scores:
- ID# 0195: Evaluator 1 - 89, Evaluator 2 - 93, Evaluator 3 - 26. The score from Evaluator 3 was recognized and validated as an outlier after reviewing the project. The score for the project was revised to 91 (rather than the 69 used by Caltrans in preparing their recommendation).
- ID# 0450: Evaluator 1 - 88, Evaluator 2 - 90, Evaluator 3 - 01. The score from Evaluator 3 was identified as an outlier and the final project score was revised to 89 (rather than the 59).
- ID# 0489: Evaluator 1 - 65, Evaluator 2 - 63, Evaluator 3 - 100. The score from Evaluator 3 was identified as an outlier and the final project score was revised to 64 (rather than the 76).
Was geographic balance considered when preparing the staff recommendation?
Although statute requires that geographic distribution be looked at when evaluating the program, it was not a selection criterion used when preparing the staff recommendation. With exception to the reasons noted in the staff recommendation (e.g. compliance with the non-infrastructure funding requirement, project initiation documents), projects were recommended on the basis of their score.
If you’re curious, here’s a look at how the projects are distributed among the twelve Caltrans Districts for the statewide component program recommendation2:
… and for the small urban & rural component staff recommendation:
Want more? Here’s how it looked for the entire Cycle I solicitation:
Why is there a gap in scores between the projects recommended in the statewide component?
In order to comply with the statutory minimum of $21.6 million for safe routes to school, non-infrastructure projects, it was necessary to recommend projects that were not necessarily the next highest-scoring project on the list. Projects that were 100% safe routes to school, non-infrastructure, were sought out for the staff recommendation to meet the required amount.