TDOT is in the process of offering communities, mainly Counties, Federal funding for “Off-System” (not on State Routes or Interstates) replacement of deficient bridges. This program used to have the initials “BRZE” but with the new highway bill MAP-21 the funding code will be sure to change. Here are some of the main things that you should know about the process:
- Responding that you are interested in a bridge does not commit the local government to anything. TDOT, at it’s expense, will start a Transportation Planning Report (TPR). The main purpose of this report is to get an updated cost estimate for the bridge. If the schedule holds the first TPR’s will be sent out to the local governments around the first of the year. You won’t have to commit to anything until you have a completed TPR to know what you are committing to.
- This is NOT like the State Aid bridge replacement process. The local government will work through the TDOT Local Programs Office to get the contract, any Notice to Proceed’s, or reimbursements. The TDOT Local Programs Process, and the TDOT State Aid Process are totally different, there are zero similarities between the two.
- Local Governments can manage their bridge projects locally through the TDOT Local Programs Office. Local Governments can select TDOT a pre-qualified Engineering firm, have them do just about all of the work, and then with TDOT guidance bid it out locally. By doing this you can complete the project faster, cheaper, and with more local input on the end product.
- Once set up in the system, reimbursements can be processed very quickly. Jason McCoy of the TDOT Local Programs office is great at helping to make sure your reimbursements get turned around fast.
- You can use your State Aid Bridge funding to pay part of the required match to the Federal funds. You can ask to have the project funded 80% Federal 16% State Aid, and 4% local government funds. Several communities are requesting that TDOT allow their State Aid balance cover 100% of the required match. Hopefully TDOT will allow this. I will let everyone know what TDOT decides.
There is a lot understand about how the process works to get your bridge replaced through the Federal process with TDOT. The short version to know is that by managing it locally, with the help of someone with the experience of A2H, you can get the bridge replaced relatively quickly, with minimal expense, and headache to the Local Government. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.