A LOT of emphasis it put on the four Notice to Proceed’s (NTP) that you get for your project from the TDOT Local Programs Office. In the TDOT Local Government Guidelines manual and various flow charts it big red stops signs right before them.
There is good reason for this. The Notice to Proceed means that the Federal funds for that next phase have been obligated. Obligated is a fancy way of saying that the funds have been approved and set up by TDOT and the FHWA so that you can send in bills for that phase of work. Any work that you do for that phase before the NTP is issued, you will not get paid for, period. Not a good thing.
One of our clients brought something to my attention from something that he read off a recent Preliminary Engineering-Final Design (PE-Final Design) NTP. In the second paragraph of the NTP it talks about how you can now procure your engineering consultant for the design phase. Our client followed the proper Federal Consultant selection process to hire us to manage the all phases of work for the project. They were confused and wanted to make sure that they didn’t have to go through another process to have us continue our work.
The short answer is no, they didn’t need to do anything additional to have us continue working on this next phase of the project.
I went back and looked and this same language is on all the Notice to Proceed’s (PE-NEPA, PE-Final Design, and Construction).
As a local government you have several options on how to procure engineering services for your project.
- You can go through the process and hire one firm for all phases of work (PE-NEPA, PE-Final Design, ROW, Construction including CEI).
- You can go through the selection process all over again for each phase, and if you want hire separate firms for each phase of work. This sounds like more of a headache than it is worth, and on smaller projects will probably cost you a lot more that just hiring one firm.
As long as you follow the TDOT/Federal selection process TDOT does not really care. TDOT and the FHWA have grumbled for years that they didn’t like that the same engineering firm that designed the project was the same one that does the Construction Engineering Inspection (CEI) work. I guess that on bigger multi-kabillion dollar Department of Transportation projects that there have been some issues.
On all of the smaller (<$1 million) Local Programs projects that I have worked on I have not seen this as an issue. Actually on these smaller projects it has tended to make things go smoother since folks in the same firm usually have good working relationships and communication flows easier. This also saves time, money, and effort when it comes to the selection process. As of today it is still ok to have your engineering firm handle all phases for work through design into CEI.
The lesson I want to put out is that as long as you have hired your consultant in accordance with TDOT/FHWA policy and rules for the whole project, then you don’t need to worry about what it says about it on the NTP.