If you have any experience with the TDOT Local Programs Process the first thing that you notice is that constructing a project using Federal STP or CMAQ funds is going to cost more than if you were to use your local City funding. If a TDOT employee from the Local Programs Office were to stroll into the Mayor’s Office and just dump $500,000 on his or her desk and say “spend this on roads, have fun and let me know how it works out” that would make things much, much simpler.
So what exactly is the difference? The short answer is that funding usually runs about 80 cents on the dollar on a good project, and it can go downhill from there very quickly. Let me explain. A simple resurfacing, traffic signal, or striping/signage project with no ROW acquisition can be done for about 80 cents on the dollar since they are simple quick (relatively) and easy projects. You want to build a new road through a swampland, plow over a stand of an endangered species of flower, take ROW and tear down a house that is on the National Historic Register? For that sort of project it may cost you more than the value of any of the Federal funds plus some.
As you can see there are extra costs that might not be needed for a purely locally funded like the following:
- A TDOT reviewed and approved NEPA document
- A set of TDOT approved plans, using TDOT item numbers
- Using the Federal Uniform Act for all ROW acquisition
- Hiring a Construction Engineering Inspection Consultant, which is required on ALL TDOT Local Programs projects.
The way to think of your Federal STP/CMAQ funding is as part of your total transportation bucket. Try and use it on simple easy projects, that way if you have something that is a bit more complicated, you can use purely City/County funds that have fewer complications.