Previous documents have contained instructions pertaining to project initiation for "Environmental Document support" or "Environmental Only". Per these new CTC guidelines these titles should now be referred to as "Project Development Support".

For additional instructions on specific Caltrans direction for completing Project Study Reports or equivalents please refer to Chapter 9 of the Project Development Procedures Manual.


Text as approved by CTC on December 8, 1999

GUIDELINES FOR THE PREPARATION
OF
PROJECT STUDY REPORTS

I. Introduction

On September 12, 1991, the California Transportation Commission adopted guidelines for the preparation of Project Study Reports (PSR) pursuant to Chapter 715, Statutes of 1990 (AB 2038). The purpose of the guidelines was to assure a consistent approach in the preparation of PSRs regardless of who prepared the document.

Chapter 622 of the Statutes of 1997 (SB 45, Kopp - STIP Reform) was enacted on January 1, 1998 and has modified programming responsibilities for the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Additionally, Chapter 783 of the Statutes of 1999 (AB 1012, Torlakson) was enacted on October 10, 1999 and provides provisions for an expedited process for projects to meet the requirement that a project study report be prepared to be considered for STIP programming. These guidelines have been prepared to be consistent with these legislation and it supersedes the September 12, 1991 guidelines.

II. Applicability

These guidelines shall apply to all projects proposed for STIP programming through the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP) or the Interregional Transportation Improvement Program (ITIP). Its purpose is to assure a consistent and uniform approach in the preparation of Project Study Reports and project study report equivalents once a decision has been made to prepare this report. The decision to prepare a Project Study Report is a cooperative effort between the Caltrans Districts and their respective regional transportation planning agencies or county transportation commissions.

Additionally, some regional transportation planning agencies or county transportation commissions may use the SB 45 Planning Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide a framework under which the Caltrans Districts and regional transportation planning agencies or county transportation commissions will cooperatively work together and communicate throughout the planning process and through completion of the Project Study Report, while other regional transportation planning agencies or county transportation commissions may already have established ongoing procedures for cooperatively working together in developing Project Study Reports.

III. Definition

Project Study Reports and project study report equivalents are engineering reports whose purpose is to document agreement on the scope, schedule, and estimated cost of a project so that the project can be considered for inclusion in a future programming document such as the STIP. (PSRs are also used by Caltrans for certain project candidates for the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) and the Toll Bridge Program and for certain locally funded projects on the State highway system.)

Project Study Reports are prepared for State highway projects. The format of a PSR and its content are outlined in Caltrans Project Development Procedures Manual. Project study report equivalents are prepared for projects not on the State highway system. A project study report equivalent contains the same information required in a PSR, but need not be in the same format as a PSR.

IV. Existing Law

Under State law (Government Code section 14529(e)), the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is limited to projects submitted or recommended through the Caltrans Interregional Transportation Improvement Program (ITIP) or a region's Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). The law further provides that neither the ITIP nor and RTIP may include a project without a Project Study Report or project study report equivalent (Government Code sections 14526(b) and 14527(g)).

Chapter 622 of the Statutes of 1997 (SB 45, Kopp) provided the framework to allow environmental and design support components to be programmed in the STIP prior to the programming of right-of-way and construction capital components. Chapter 783 of the Statutes of 1999 (AB 1012, Torlakson) has further emphasized the need and use of the PSR (Project Development Support) to facilitate the expeditious programming of projects while meeting the requirements of completing a project study report for STIP programming considerations. These guidelines provide the use of Project Study Reports to program the project development support components. The PSR (Project Development Support) is the appropriate document for programming these support components.

Permanent STIP Guidelines have been adopted by the Commission to assist Caltrans and the regions in the development of the future STIP and to provide further guidance on the implementation of SB 45.

V. Preparation and Review

For projects on the State highway system, it is expected that during the development of a project and the preparation of the Project Study Report, there is open and continuous communication between Caltrans, the sponsoring agency (if applicable), and the regional transportation planning agency/county transportation commission.

Caltrans will work cooperatively with the sponsoring local agency and regional transportation planning agency/county transportation commission to determine the appropriate programming strategy for the project. The Project Study Report (Project Development Support) shall be used to facilitate the programming of support costs to complete the environmental process and/or the design phase of a project.

Caltrans will prepare and approve Project Study Reports on the State highway system or will review and approve Project Study Reports prepared by local agencies for projects proposed on the State highway system pursuant to Government Code section 65086.5(c). By statute, Caltrans is required to review and provide comments within 60 days of the PSR submittal by the local agency. Upon submittal of the revised PSR by the local agency, Caltrans is required to complete its review within 30 days. This process is repeated until the PSR is approved.

For projects not on the State highway system, project study report equivalents will be prepared by the local agency having jurisdiction on the local street or road. Project study report equivalents for these projects do not require review and approval by Caltrans unless the proposed project impacts the State right-of-way or facility. If there is an impact, Caltrans review will only be on the portion of the State right-of-way or facility that is impacted.

VI. Approval Authority

Caltrans or local agencies are responsible for approving projects proposed on State highways or local streets and roads within their respective jurisdictions. Specifically:

1. Caltrans will approve all Project Study Reports for projects on the State highway system.

2. The appropriate city or county will approve all project study report equivalents for projects that are on a local street or road within its respective jurisdiction.

Unless they are the lead agency for a project, regional transportation planning agencies and county transportation commissions do not approve Project Study Reports or project study report equivalents. Regional transportation planning agencies and county transportation commissions may, at their option, retain approval authority for project study report equivalents prepared for projects off the State highway system. However, prior to programming a project in the RTIP, regional transportation planning agencies and county transportation commissions are responsible to verify that a Project Study Report or project study report equivalent has been prepared and that the information contained within is sufficient for programming purposes.

The PSR or project study report equivalent is not required to be submitted with the RTIP or ITIP. However, the Commission or its staff may request copies of a project's report to document the project's cost or deliverability.

VII. Executive Review Committee

An Executive Review Committee will be established in each District to ensure that the project scope, cost, and schedule address transportation needs and provide optimal traffic operations and safety for those who travel and work on the state highway system. Either Caltrans, the sponsoring local agency, or regional transportation planning agency/county transportation commission may request that a project be reviewed by the District Executive Review Committee. The Committee will assess whether the scope, cost and schedule have been adequately identified and addressed in the Project Study Report.

The members of the Committee shall include the District Division Chief for Design, the District Division Chief for Planning, the District Division Chief for Program/Project Management, a regional transportation planning agency/county transportation commission representative, and a local agency representative. The regional transportation planning agency/county transportation commission representative and the local agency representative shall be independent of the proposed project and will be appointed by the District Director. The Executive Review Committee will make a final recommendation to the District Director.

In the event that issues cannot be resolved through this Committee, a final appeal may be made to the Deputy Director for Project Development (Chief Engineer) for final consideration.

Caltrans will report on a monthly basis to the Commission the number of PSRs that have been approved by the Department and the number of appeals that have been made to the Chief Engineer. The report will include a listing of the specific projects that have been appealed. Upon receipt of the report, the Commission may include, on a future meeting agenda, an item to discuss an appealed PSR.

VIII. Intent

The California Transportation Commission intends that Project Study Reports and project study report equivalents will be prepared to the quality and breadth of examination necessary to define the scope, schedule, and cost estimate of a project. The Commission intends that the process and requirements for PSRs and project study report equivalents be as simple, timely, and workable as practical, given that they must be prepared at the front end of the project development process, before in-depth environmental evaluation and detailed design. They must provide a sound basis for commitment of future state funding and project delivery. A PSR or project study report equivalent also provides a key opportunity to achieve consensus on project scope, schedule, and proposed cost. The Commission also intends that PSRs and project study report equivalents will not forestall or preclude the programming of a project. Use of the Project Study Report (Project Development Support) will enable the programming of the project development support components to allow engineering and environmental studies to proceed to evaluate the merits and feasibility of alternatives before a preferred alternative is selected for the programming of right-of-way and construction capital costs.

IX. Report Standards

The Project Study Report or project study report equivalent shall be prepared under the direction of a California registered Civil Engineer. The document will be stamped and signed as such.

A Caltrans Project Manager will be assigned to every capital outlay project on the State highway system, including projects sponsored by a local agency. The Project Manager is the single focal point for the project, is responsible for obtaining consensus on project scope, cost and schedule, and is responsible for the delivery of a quality project on time and within budget. The Project Manager is responsible for all project development activities from project initiation through closeout of the construction contract. Similarly, for projects not on the State highway system, the responsible local agency will assign a Project Manager or will designate the person most knowledgeable about the project, who shall be responsible for answering all project-related questions from Caltrans or the Commission.

The PSR or project study report equivalent shall include, at a minimum, the following information as appropriate to address the specific project:

X. Cost Estimates

The Project Study Report (and equivalent) cost estimate is to be based on preliminary-level engineering, but needs be to the level of detail that, when considering the project for programming, will provide a reasonable approximation of the funding and staff resources that will be needed to deliver the project within the proposed schedule as outlined in the report.

Project costs shall be summarized in the project components identified above in "Report Standards". Although a Project Study Report or project study report equivalent may focus on the project components proposed for programming (i.e., "completion of all permits and environmental studies"), a preliminary cost estimate for all project components must be included in the PSR or PSR equivalent. This will enable the regional transportation planning agencies, county transportation commissions, Caltrans, and the Commission to evaluate future program needs for construction compared to anticipated future program capacity.

In preparing the capital cost estimates, the degree of effort and detail for each study is expected to vary depending on the complexity and sensitivity of the issues. A cost breakdown for each of the major elements (i.e., roadway, structures, utility relocation, right-of-way acquisition, etc.) of the project must be provided. A contingency factor to cover unanticipated items of work or cost increases may be applied. Generally, a factor of 25% is acceptable. However, a higher or lower percentage may be used, if justified. In addition, the accuracy of cost estimates is usually less for PSRs which involve project development support (also known as "PSR(Project Development Support)") than it is for standard PSRs or PSR equivalents.

XI. Documents Meeting Report Standards

Although regional transportation planning agencies and county transportation commissions who are responsible for the programming of projects in the RTIP may, at their option, adopt additional standards, policies and procedures for projects off the State highway system, the use of the following documents meets the above-mentioned report standards:

1. Project Study Report and Project Study Report (Project Development Support) as outlined in Caltrans Project Development Procedures Manual (PDPM). This is the standard for all projects proposed on the State highway system regardless of who prepares the document or is the project sponsor. Caltrans may in the future make changes to the PDPM which are technical in nature. Technical changes to the PDPM which relate to project study reports will be shared with Commission staff. Changes to policy require adoption by the Commission.

For retrofit noise barrier projects, the Noise Barrier Scope Summary Report (NBSSR) outlined in Caltrans Project Development Procedures Manual is an appropriate document.

The Caltrans Project Development Procedures Manual can be found on the Internet at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/.

2. Preliminary Environmental Study (PES) form and the Field Review Form as described in Caltrans Local Assistance Procedures Manual (LAPM). This is the standard for all projects proposed off the State highway system and is equivalent to the Project Study Report. Agencies may also, at their option, adopt Caltrans' Project Study Report for use on projects that are not on the State highway system. Caltrans may in the future make changes to the LAPM which are technical in nature. Technical changes to the LAPM which relate to project study report equivalents will be shared with Commission staff. Changes to policy require adoption by the Commission.

The Caltrans Local Assistance Procedures Manual can be found on the Internet at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/.

3. Project Study Report (Local Rehabilitation). This document is an appropriate document for pavement rehabilitation projects proposed off the State highway system and can be used by agencies at their option. This PSR format was transmitted to all Regional Transportation Planning Agencies and County Transportation Commissions in a letter dated December 8, 1998 from Mr. Robert L. Buckley, Program Manager, Design and Local Programs. It can also be found on the Internet at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/.

4. Uniform Transit Application. The Commission's Uniform Transit Application is the appropriate document for transit projects.

5. TEA Application. An application prepared in accordance with the Commission's Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEA) program guidelines is the appropriate document for TEA projects.

This web site last updated 12/12/99.