MVMPO Project Development Basics
My community wants to develop a transportation project that gets paid for with federal funds through the Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MVMPO). How do we do that?
Defining the Project with Public Input
Communities usually start the process of developing a project internally through a local planning process that prioritizes their transportation needs. At the end of that process, a feasibility study or other study may be conducted to get an idea of the breadth of the project that the community wants to implement. MVPC staff may be able to help with the study. Communities need to hold a public hearing or series of public meetings to discuss the transportation need and proposed solutions and to receive comments that would influence the project’s design, scope, etc.
Contact the MVMPO
The MVMPO is your community’s conduit to federal funds. Contact Tony Komornick (akomornick at mvpc.org), Transportation Program Manager, to discuss your community’s project and the options available for federal funds. We can help guide you through the process.
We have a project. Now what do we do?
Typically communities pay for the design of the project and that local money is then leveraged with federal funds (with state match) that pay for construction. Any project that is federally funded must go through a specific process and must be designed according to MassDOT regulations and design guides. You can find these on the MassDOT web site.
Figure 1: Demonstrates the basic steps for project development. The yellow blocks (PNF, PIF and Design/Cost estimates) are the responsibility of the local community. All others are the responsibility of either the State or the MVMPO.
PNF or PIF? Which comes first?
The Project Need Form (PNF) comes first and must be submitted to the MassDOT District 4 Office at 519 Appleton St., Arlington, MA 02476, as well as to the MVMPO. A community usually prepares the PNF, but sometimes seeks the assistance from a design consultant or MVPC staff.
Once the municipality and MassDOT agree on the projects’ merits, the municipality then prepares and submits a Project Initiation Form (PIF) to District 4 and the MVMPO for review.
MassDOT staff may recommend certain changes to the project and/or request additional information from the municipality at this stage. MassDOT will then include the PIF on the MassDOT Project Review Committee (PRC) agenda for evaluation. The PRC meets quarterly. Once approved, the project will be given a project number and assigned a project manager who will work with the community and its design consultant to advance the project through the design, permitting, right-of-way and construction phases.
When do we get on the TIP?
The project proponents (the City or Town) and the MVMPO members work together to program transportation funds in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for a given project. The TIP is an annually updated 4-year budget for allocating federal funds within the region. Funds are limited, so projects sometimes wait years to get funded. All projects must go through a project evaluation and are scored based on how the project addresses regional goals, gaps, needs and other factors.
Keep in mind that proponents may also apply funding from other federal or state grant programs outside the MVMPO process. Examples of such programs include the MassWorks Infrastructure Program administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the former Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program administered by the U.S. DOT.
Race to the finish line.
Projects that receive state or federal funds must to go through a strict process outlined by MassDOT. Communities must be mindful of deadlines so that the project is not delayed. A project that is not ready will be moved to another year or, infrequently, taken off the TIP entirely. Typical milestones in the design process include:
- Submission and approval of the 25% design plans
- A public hearing on the 25% design
- Submission and approval of the 75% design plans
- Submission and approval of the 100% design plans, and preparation of the plans, permits, ROW certificates, specifications and estimates (PS&E).
Once the 100% design is approved by MassDOT (assuming it is on the TIP for that fiscal year), MassDOT will take the project through the advertizing and construction work.
Want to stay up-to-date or get more involved in the MVMPO process?
- Request to be put on our mailing list.
- Attend MVMPO meetings (published on our web site and we will also send you an e-mail)
- Provide your input on transportation plans and programs.
- Volunteer to serve on a focus group or advisory committee.
- We would be happy to make a presentation or start a discussion about transportation at your group’s meeting. Let us know when and where.
- Contact your local planning department to see what projects they are working on and get involved.