California Department of Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)?

The STIP is a multi-year capital improvement program of transportation projects on and off the State Highway System (SHS), funded with revenues from the State Highway Account and other funding sources. STIP programming generally occurs every two years. The programming cycle begins with the release of a proposed fund estimate in July of odd-numbered years, followed by California Transportation Commission (CTC) adoption of the fund estimate in August (odd years). The fund estimate serves to identify the amount of new funds available for the programming of transportation projects. Once the fund estimate is adopted, Caltrans and the regional planning agencies prepare transportation improvement plans for submittal by December 15th (odd years). Caltrans prepares the Interregional Transportation Improvement Plan (ITIP) and regional agencies prepare Regional Transportation Improvement Plans (RTIPs). Public hearings are held in January (even years) in both northern and southern California. The STIP is adopted by the CTC by April (even years). This process, and the fund distribution process are outlined in charts available on the Caltrans' Division of Transportation Programming website.

Local agencies should work through their Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA), County Transportation Commission, or Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), as appropriate, to nominate projects for inclusion in the STIP.
Once projects are programmed, agencies may begin the project implementation process. It is important to note that there are timely use of funds rules associated with STIP projects that are established by statute and outlined in both the STIP Guidelines adopted by the CTC and Chapter 23 of the Local Assistance Program Guidelines.

Q2: What kind of federal and state funds are available for transportation projects?

Refer to the Division of Local Assistance Web site for available funding programs. Also refer to the publication titled Transportation Funding Opportunities for more information.

Q3: Where can I find all the forms in the Local Assistance Procedures Manual?

For all forms use in the LAPM, refer to Division of Local Assistance Web site.

Q4: What is an E-76?

Formally called an "Authorization to Proceed", an E-76, is a federal authorization of funds to establish the reimbursement date for a phase of work. A separate E-76 request is required for preliminary engineering (PE), right of way, utility relocation, and construction phases if federal funds are to be used in that phase of work.

Q5: What is meant by authorization, obligation, and allocation?

Prior to beginning reimbursable work, the project (or project phase) eligible for reimbursement from federal funds must be formally authorized (approved) by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) or by Caltrans for exempt project. Following authorization, FHWA obligates federal funds. However, both terms have been used interchangeably. On the other hand, allocation of funds is an approval process by which California Transportation Commission (CTC) votes on State-funded project.

Q6: What is a field review? Is it mandatory?

A field review is to define the scope of work, project costs, and schedule. A Local Assistance area engineer typically will conduct an informal field review with local agency. Generally, a formal field review will only be required for major National Highway System (NHS) projects.

Q7: Why does my project require a CTC vote?

Projects funded with state funds or federal-aid project matches with state funds will require a CTC allocation vote. A CTC vote is required for state programs such as State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP), Grade Separation Program, Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (EEM) Program, Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA), Pedestrian Safety Program, and Petroleum Violation Escrow Account (PVEA). The only federal program that requires a CTC vote is the Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEA) program.

Q8: Where can I find DBE information?

DBE Information can be found at

Q9: I am working on a local project within the State's right of way; do I need an encroachment permit?

Yes. Refer to District 9 Office of Permits (760) 872-0674. Typically, if construction cost within the State's right of way is less than $1 million, the District Permit Engineer will handle the review. For project cost more than $1 million, a Caltrans project manager will be assigned and a Cooperative Agreement (see below) may be executed.

Q10: What is the difference between the Caltrans' Cooperative Agreement and Master Agreement? What about Program Supplement?

A Cooperative Agreement is an agreement between a city, county, or other local public agency and the state defining the responsibilities and financial obligations for a project. It is generally required for locally administered projects within the state's right of way. A Master Agreement, however, is an agreement between a city, county, or other local public agency and the state defining the general terms and conditions which must be met to receive federal-aid or state funds. Any local agencies who have requested federal and/or state funds through the Office of Local Assistance are covered by a Master Agreement. To supplement the Master Agreement, a Program Supplement will be executed for each project upon local's request. This agreement covers project specific rules and regulations, which are called special covenants.

Q11: Where can I download Caltrans' publications?

Refer to Division of Local Assistance Web site for publications related to local assistance projects. For other Caltrans publications, contact Publication Distribution Unit.