DOT Capital projects are initiated in any of the following ways:
- DOT identifies state-of-good-repair needs for roadways, bulkheads, retaining walls, or step streets. (This Manual does not cover bridges, tunnels, and viaducts, which are managed by DOT’s Bridges Division)
- DOT divisions identify safety, mobility, resiliency, or other issues that need Capital enhancements
- A DOT citywide initiative, such as Vision Zero, identifies areas in which to make enhancements. Such initiatives often employ Operational work prior to Capital implementation
- Another agency’s project, such as a DEP infrastructure upgrade, creates an opportunity for DOT to incorporate enhancements to the ROW
- The general public or Community Boards make requests, sometimes seeking funding from their elected officials or from grants
- Elected officials provide funding for a project
- The mayor or other elected officials may establish priorities to be fulfilled by DOT
Planning & Design
Scoping (3 Months–1 Year)
When a Capital project is proposed, DOT creates an initial project budget and adds the project to the list of the agency’s Capital needs. Projects are typically prioritized for funding based on a given project’s alignment with the agency’s strategic goals. After a rigorous prioritization process, the project may be funded in the Capital Plan, which is updated three times per year. OMB must approve the addition of the project to DOT’s Capital Plan before work can begin.
DOT begins research into the project location and visits the site with various agency divisions and other stakeholders to discuss the project scope prior to funding the project. After funding, the agency refines the project scope and engages DDC to provide design and construction management services; this process generally takes several months to a year, depending on the project’s size and complexity. Prior to project initiation, DOT works closely with DDC’s Front End Planning unit, as well as other stakeholders, so that the project’s scope, budget, and schedule are achievable and acceptable to all parties. DOT divisions and other relevant agencies compile information that may have some bearing on the project — e.g., traffic analysis, crash data, environmental studies, etc. — and about other planned or ongoing work occurring in the project area or nearby.
Among many factors, scoping considers the impacts of climate change, including projected sea level rise, heat island effect, and coastal storm surge. To ensure consistency in these measurements, all elevations are measured in accordance with the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88). Special attention is given to whether the project is located in a flood-vulnerable area, according to FEMA’s flood risk maps. Capital projects in high flood risk areas may involve many additional resiliency considerations from planting selection and salt tolerance to concrete and asphalt thickness. Project managers should refer to the latest version of New York City’s Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines, which provide more detailed guidance on these topics.
If the project includes non-standard elements, such as distinctive materials or furnishings, OMB reviews and comments on the preliminary project scope and budget.
The project is then transferred to DDC for detailed design and implementation using the Capital Project Initiation form (CPI). The CPI includes:
- Project purpose/justification
- Site plan and conceptual design, if applicable
- Project description
- Cost estimate
- Funding sources summary
- Other relevant reference materials
Design (1-3 Years)
DDC usually awards a contract or task order to a consultant to design the project. For less complex projects, DDC may use in-house staff. DDC and the consultant conduct an analysis of existing conditions.
Schematic Geometric Design
The consultant creates a schematic geometric design — a basic design showing curblines and markings — upon which all DOT divisions, as well as other relevant agencies, comment. Changes in geometry or to the number of moving lanes often require further traffic analysis.
Final Design begins the process of creating construction documents. Once DDC and its consultant incorporate all of DOT’s comments on the schematic geometric design, the consultant produces the final design in three stages: 40%, 75%, and 100% completion. DDC circulates each set of drawings to all DOT divisions, relevant public and private stakeholders, and to the relevant Community Boards and elected officials for their review. At 40% and 75% design, DOT collates and transmits its comments to DDC, and the consultant incorporates the comments into the next design phase. DDC holds “alignment” meetings with the private utilities during final design, as necessary, to avoid conflicts with their infrastructure and so that there is minimal disruption to the construction schedule.
Acquisition/ULURP as Necessary (2 Years)
Capital projects sometimes require the acquisition of private property (e.g., to build a new street or widen an existing street) and/or Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) (e.g., to map a new street or change a street’s mapped width or grade). These processes will generally add two years to a project’s implementation timeline and need to be coordinated with the environmental review process.
Construction (1–2 Years)
Once the design is complete, DDC requests a construction Certificate to Proceed (CP) from OMB and bids out the project to construction management (CM) firms and contractors. OMB typically issues the construction CP before the CMs and contractors respond. Construction can begin when the contract with the selected bidder is finalized with DDC.
Design Development and Review
Many teams across DOT and partner agencies participate in the design development and review process. As the project develops, DOT works with relevant oversight entities to complete the required environmental review and related approvals, which informs the decision-making process.
This diagram covers the typical project development phases, the stages at which DOT or DDC distributes designs for review, and where both local (PDC and LPC) and federal discretionary review processes come into play.
The vast majority of projects DOT undertakes are considered Type II projects under SEQR/CEQR and are thus exempt from local environmental review. They may also fall within one or more Categorical Exclusions (CE) under NEPA, requiring minimal documentation that is approved by the relevant state and federal agencies. However, some DOT projects require additional review in the form of Environmental Assessment (EA)/Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) and/or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). An EA (NEPA) or EAS (SEQR/ CEQR) can take three to six months to complete whereas an EIS can take two years or more.