The Most Important Document You Will Never See

With the local programs process there are a ton of documents that you will have to sort through. Your environmental document, the design plans, all of the certifications, estimates, the bid book and the list goes on. There is one document out of all of this that you will probably never get a copy of that trumps all of them. That document is the POFA-5 for the specific phase of work. Here is a copy of one from an Arlington project POFA-5

As you can see the document is fairly uncluttered and almost deceptively straight forward. This document is the verification from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that funds have been obligated. Without this document your project is not actually funded. Here is a list of things that I looked for in this document  when I worked at TDOT (and still do).

  1. On the bottom left hand corner it MUST have the date stamped in the “DATE APPROVED” block. Unless that block has a date it has only been sent over to the FHWA, but has not been officially approved.
  2. Confirm that the PIN number, Federal project number, State project numbers, all match up.
  3. Confirm that the “GENERAL LOCATION” and “DESCRIPTION OF WORK” match up with the project. This is critically important, since only the activities and locations listed here will be eligible for the federal funding. If it says “Resurfacing” and your project is an intersection improvement, you have a problem that will need to get fixed before Local Programs will issue the NTP.
  4. The final thing that gets checked is the funding block that shows which phase of work is being funded, for how much, and at what percentage (usually either 80% or 100% federally funded).

Now, these are all things that the TDOT Local Programs office reviews before they send out the NTP. The NTP goes into a lot more detail about what you can, and can’t do as well as contact information. This is why they send out NTP’s instead of the POFA-5. Local Programs can’t request a POFA-5 for that phase of work unless you have completed the steps necessary that are listed in previous blog postings.

So you see this little piece of paper that most people outside of TDOT will never see, controls everything when it comes to the funding of a project. I hope that is insight into the system is helpful.


About arran375

I work for Askew, Hargraves, Harcourt and Associates, Inc. here in Nashville, Tennessee. The short version of what I do is that we help local governments spend the Federal funds they get from TDOT on road, and bridge projects.
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