Planning and Executing Projects within Transportation Budgets

372 FW 6
FWM Number
Originating Office
Infrastructure Management Division

6.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter establishes policy for planning and executing transportation appropriation budgets for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

6.2 What are the objectives of this chapter? Our objectives are to:

A. Establish, for public transportation assets:

(1) Priorities for funding projects based on the Service mission,

(2) Goals in the Service’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), and

(3) Procedures for addressing legislative mandates; and

B. Outline a system for allocating funds through Regional prioritization of future transportation needs, based on our goals and mission.

6.3 What is the scope of this chapter? This chapter applies to planning and budgeting for all transportation assets (i.e., roads, trails, and bridges) that are on or provide access to Service-owned and managed lands.

6.4 What are the authorities for this chapter?

A. See 372 FW 1 for the overall authorities for all the chapters in Part 372.

B. In addition to those, the following are applicable specifically to this chapter:

(1) Federal Highway Trust Fund Authorization Act and the Surface Transportation Act, as amended (Title 23 U.S.C.), which authorize the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP).

(2) Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Public Law 114-94), signed into law in January of 2015, reauthorizes the Surface Transportation Act.

6.5 What terms do you need to know to understand this chapter? See 372 FW 1 for the terms we use across all chapters in Part 372. The following terms are unique to the transportation program:

A. Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) is the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) program that oversees the Service’s transportation program and that of other Federal land agencies. The FHWA Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH) has stewardship and oversight of the FLTP, as well as the grant-like Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP). FHWA provides high level guidance, project delivery, data gathering, and planning assistance. FLTP expenditures are restricted to public use transportation assets.

B. FHWA Federal aid are funds that come from the Highway Trust Fund and are distributed by formula directly to State or other government agencies, which must then manage those funds within statutory requirements and guidelines. The grant-like Transportation Alternatives Program and the Highway Safety Improvement Program are examples of FHWA Federal aid programs.

C. Functional classification is a categorical system that FHWA applies to each of our roads. By consulting its functional class, one can quickly understand the mission purpose and intended use of the road. Functional classes also help us maintain uniformity when naming and identifying routes. The classes range from I to V:

(1) Class I - Principal  are public routes that constitute the main access route, main auto tour route, or main thoroughfare for visitors. Class I routes must be accessible by 2-wheel drive (2WD) vehicles. They are numbered from 10 to 99.

(2) Class II - Connector  are public routes that provide circulation within the refuge or fish hatchery. These routes provide access to areas of scenic, scientific, recreational, or cultural interest, such as overlooks, campgrounds, and education centers. Class II routes must also be accessible by 2WD vehicles and are numbered from 100 to 199.

(3) Class III - Special purpose  are public roads that provide circulation within special use areas, such as campgrounds or public concessionaire facilities, or provide access to remote areas of the refuge or fish hatchery. These routes are not required to be 2WD vehicle accessible, although they may be. Class III routes are numbered from 200 to 299.

(4) Class IV - Administrative  are routes intended for access to maintenance offices, employee quarters, utility areas, or other administrative structures. Although accessible by 2WD vehicles, these routes may restrict access to the general public. Class IV routes are numbered from 300 to 399.

(5) Class V – Restricted  are administrative roads that are normally closed to the public, such as maintenance roads, service roads, or patrol roads. Although they may be open to the public for short periods of time for special use, such as hunting access, these routes are not required to be 2WD accessible. Class V routes are numbered from 400 – 499.

D. Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is a national document providing programmatic consistency that has a more localized, counterpart document within each Region. The legislation that enables FHWA surface transportation programs requires that participating Federal agencies have an LRTP in place. With a 20-year horizon, our LRTPs describe our long-term programmatic vision in terms of six discreet strategic goals upon which transportation budgeting, planning, and policy is built (also see section 6.5K). Our transportation planning processes are generally consistent with those used by States and metropolitan areas.

E. National Bridge Inventory (NBI) is a nationwide database hosted by the FHWA that contains condition information for all road bridges and tunnels in the United States, including those on Service lands. Our Division of Engineering inspects those assets belonging to the Service and provides the resulting data to FHWA.

F. Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH) is a part of the FHWA that provides stewardship and oversight for the FLTP. The FLH plays a key role in enabling and facilitating the planning, funding, project delivery, and data collection for our transportation program.   

G. Roads Inventory Program (RIP) is an on-going, increasingly accurate condition assessment and data collection process that the FLH has conducted on our roadway system since 2000. We use RIP data to make better informed programmatic decisions, track performance management, and meet legislative mandates. RIP data is key in leveraging outside funding for projects.     

H. Surface Transportation Act is legislation that provides the funding for our transportation program (e.g., the FAST Act). In between reauthorizations and before a new bill is passed, Congress will sometimes extend the expired legislation. Lapses in authorizing legislation can interfere with project delivery because regulations require construction contracts to be fully funded before we can award them. This legislation typically reauthorizes funding for a period of 2 to 5 years.

I. Tiering is a process that we use to assign a priority level to a road or parking lot.

(1) Tier 1  roads are generally principal access roads, visitor center parking areas, or auto tour routes.

(2) Tier 2  roads are secondary connector roads, administrative roads, and parking pull-outs.

(3) Tier 3  roads are not critical to the mission and have very low usage. Typically, Tier 3 roads are native surface roads (e.g., dirt roads) that are constructed or occur without engineering standards. Tier 3 roads are not generally eligible for Deferred Maintenance (DM) or FLTP funds.

J. Transportation assets are any one of 13 different types of real property assets in our inventory that have the primary function of transportation: paved, gravel, or dirt roads; paved and unpaved trails; culvert, road, and trail bridges; boardwalks; stationary and floating docks; airstrips; and parking areas.

K. Transportation goals are six strategic goals stated in our LRTP that form a planning framework consistent with our conservation mission. Each goal represents an ideal element of our program, and collectively they guide our selection process for project funding:

(1) Coordinated opportunities. We seek joint transportation opportunities that support our mission and provide mutual benefits to external partners, which maximizes Service resources.

(2) Asset management. We will operate and maintain a functional, financially sustainable and resilient transportation network to satisfy current and future land management needs in the face of a changing climate.

(3) Safety. Our transportation network will provide a superior level of safety for all users and all modes of transportation to and within Service lands.

(4) Environment. Our infrastructure will be landscape appropriate and will play a key role in the improvement of environmental conditions in and around Service lands.

(5) Access, mobility, and connectivity. We will ensure that units open to the public have adequate transportation options for all users, including underserved, underrepresented, and mobility-limited populations.

(6) Visitor experience. We will enhance the visitation experience through improvement and investment in the transportation network.

6.6 Who is responsible for planning and executing plans and projects using the transportation budget? See 372 FW 1, Table 1-3 for the overall responsibilities of Service management for constructed real property. Table 6-1 below is specific to the transportation-related content of this chapter.

Table 6-1: Responsibilities for Planning and Executing Projects within Transportation Budgets

These employees…

Are responsible for…

A. The Chief – National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS)

(1) Leading the Service’s transportation asset management activities, including coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT);

(2) Developing and implementing an effective overall approach to transportation planning and budgeting by coordinating with other Directorate members who have jurisdiction over transportation assets, especially the Assistant Director – Fish and Aquatic Conservation and the Assistant Director – Business Management and Operations;

(3) Leading development of the annual memorandum that asks the Regions to update information related to development of transportation budgets;

(4) Managing the Service Asset and Maintenance Management System (SAMMS), the official database of record for all information related to the development of transportation budgets;

(5) Ensuring that we integrate information from road, parking lot, and bridge inspections with overall condition assessment data to determine current replacement value and DM costs; and

(6) Leading the Service’s efforts and contributions to the Department of the Interior (Department) and DOT regarding future reauthorizations of the nation’s Surface Transportation Act.

B. National Transportation Program Coordinator

(1) Managing overall annual budget allocations with the FHWA for the FLTP and planning set-aside funds;

(2) Ensuring implementation of the national LRTP and monitoring national consistency of Regional LRTPs and other planning efforts;

(3) Providing leadership, review, and coordination of the transportation legislative process and preparing needs assessments and policy refinements for public use assets within the Service;

(4) Managing the RIP process, ensuring that FHWA and contractors comply with Service standards and expectations related to Transportation condition assessments, including use and integration with the Service’s Application for Material Inspection (SAMI) tool in the inventory process;

(5) Reviewing regional transportation 5-year plans in SAMMS to ensure eligibility for FLTP funding and compliance with Service standards for project descriptions;

(6) Identifying appropriate training and guidance for Regional Transportation Coordinators (RTCs);

(7) Developing and updating the Service’s policy and guidance concerning transportation-related real property;

(8) Coordinating with the Department and its Bureau Transportation Coordination Partnership and communicating any program changes.

C. Assistant Director – Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Coordinating with the Chief – NWRS and the Assistant Director – Business Management and Operations to develop and implement transportation management policies and procedures.

D. Assistant Director – Business Management and Operations

(1) Leading the Service’s engineering activities to support transportation projects planned and executed by the Service, including, but not limited to:

     (a) Specialized bridge inspections,

     (b) Engineering assessments,

     (c) Construction planning and management,

     (d) Technical assistance, and

     (e) Environmental quality programs; and

(2) Ensuring that information from specialized inspections is readily available for integration with overall condition assessment data to help determine DM costs derived from those inspections.

E. Regional Directors and Assistant Regional Directors

Ensuring that, for all transportation projects within their areas of responsibility, the appropriate staff: 

(1) Identify the highest priority needs in 5-year transportation plans, and incorporate cost-effective approaches throughout all stages of project planning and execution;

(2) Provide accurate and complete information for all 5-year transportation plan projects;

(3) Develop clear, succinct, and compelling justifications for projects describing what they will do and how they support the mission;

(4) Track, by unique project codes in DOT’s financial system or FBMS, all expenditures for transportation-funded projects;

(5) For those projects funded through the Service, create records for Assets Under Construction (AUC) during the planning phase and use AUC-specific work orders to track total acquisition costs;

(6) Complete projects consistent with the 5-year plans in which they are funded; and

(7) Promptly and accurately report project accomplishments, acquisitions, and disposals of assets.

F. Regional Facilities Program Supervisors

Ensuring that:

(1) Proposals for transportation projects are in SAMMS and are accurate and well-developed;

(2) Projects selected for transportation funding have been vetted using the standards described in the Regional LRTP;

(3) 5-year plans are complete and project descriptions well-written in time to meet the deadlines provided in annual memorandums from Headquarters; and

(4) RTCs receive appropriate training.

G. Regional Transportation Coordinators (RTCs)

(1) In coordination with Headquarters, managing the annual Regional budget allocation for the FLTP as well as any matching funds received for FLAP projects;

(2) Working withFLH to identify and scope projects that meet Regional LRTP priorities, and submitting a Project Management Plan for projects in the coming fund year that are over $50,000 and will not have FHWA oversight;

(3) Managing the Region’s 5-year transportation program and providing periodic updates throughout the current fiscal year as changes occur, which includes alerting Headquarters about the potential for cost overruns or funding availability that could be shifted to other Regional transportation needs; 

(4) Creating inspection, construction, and DM work orders for transportation assets in SAMMS and using those work orders to update the Regional 5-year transportation plan;

(5) Conducting pre-inspection inventory validations with station personnel and ensuring the accuracy of transportation asset records in our inventories;

(6) Checking completed field inspections for quality;

(7) Serving as a subject matter expert to help field and Regional managers identify qualifying transportation projects and alternate fund sources; and

(8) Providing guidance to Regional management in following their LRTP to ensure consistency with the national LRTP, and updating the Regional LRTP as necessary.

H. Field Station Managers

(1) Ensuring there are current and accurate transportation facility work orders in SAMMS and FBMS, with requested projects prioritized according to mission delivery needs;

(2) Using work orders provided by the Regional office to report all purchases, contracts, and Service employee labor hours related to transportation projects funded through the Service;

(3) Reporting to their Regional office the completion of any transportation-related projects, regardless of fund source;

(4) Requesting cancellation of any work orders for projects that are no longer needed; and

(5) Ensuring that station resources are available to operate and maintain in acceptable condition any assets resulting from requested projects. This is especially true for large and complex assets that could significantly expand the operations and maintenance obligation for the station.

6.7 How does the Service establish transportation appropriation priorities?  

A. Our transportation priorities align with current Surface Transportation Act goals, subsequent guidance from DOT, and the goals of our national LRTP, which aligns with our mission. These priorities are intended to:

(1) Ensure that units open to public visitation have adequate, equitable, and safe access and connectivity for all potential users, including underserved, underrepresented, and disadvantaged populations;

(2) Provide a financially sustainable transportation system to satisfy current and future land management needs in the face of a changing climate;

(3) Seek partnered transportation solutions that support our mission, maximize the utility of our resources, and provide mutual benefits to us, the public, and our partners;

(4) Ensure that the transportation program helps us to conserve and enhance fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats;

(5) Provide a transportation system that ensures visitors traveling to and within Service lands arrive at their destinations safely; and

(6) Create and sustain enjoyable and welcoming experiences for all visitors using any mode of transportation, whether on foot, in a vehicle, on a boat, or riding a bike.

B. Our priorities are guided by the national LRTP and its step-down plans in each Region. Although these plans are consistent, step-down plans provide more detail on Regional priorities and selection processes. Legislative funding from DOT concentrates on the repair and improvement of transportation assets with the highest volume of use for safe and efficient wildlife-dependent visitation activities. These assets include Functional Class I and II roads, such as auto tour routes, public access roads, and other primary public transportation-related assets on refuges and hatcheries.

(1) Regions prioritize transportation needs by concentrating on projects that provide safe and reliable access to and within refuges and fish hatcheries, as identified in a Regional LRTP.

(2) Using Regional LRTPs as a guide, the National Transportation Program Coordinator ranks all transportation projects at the national level to identify the highest priority projects from a technical basis.

(3) We improve and maintain lower-use, Tier 3 public roads using annual maintenance funds at the individual field station level rather than through Federal Highway Trust Fund authorizations.

6.8 What is the process for identifying projects and establishing a plan for funding?

A. The first step in establishing which projects to fund is to know the condition of the assets we own and manage. Approximately 20-25% of our assets are inspected per year. The Service’s Engineering program inspects bridges meeting the criteria in 362 FW 3.

B. Results from these inspections are entered as condition assessment work orders in SAMMS, and the deficiencies noted during on-site inspections are highlighted in the station’s out-briefing and report.

C. Deficiencies over the designated threshold require that the Regional office generate DM work orders for the estimated cost of repairs.

D. Regions request that their Field Station Managers review and prioritize work orders for the projects at their stations. Once input by the Region, the updated SAMMS data is used in the Regional project selection process.

E. Using criteria from the Regional LRTP, Regional staff further refine prioritizations for their 5-year plans.

6.9 How does the Service fund projects for transportation assets when FLTP funds aren’t used? Not all roads, not even all public roads, are eligible for FLTP funds. Other fund sources exist.

A. Non-engineered, natural, or native surface (e.g., dirt) roads and parking lots that receive relatively low volumes of traffic are classified as Tier 3 and have lower repair and maintenance costs. We expect that Field Station Managers will use annual maintenance funds to maintain these assets.

B. Administrative roads and parking lots, regardless of their tier designation, are not eligible for FLTP funding. They may be eligible for DM, annual maintenance, and field station management funding. 

6.10 What other guidance is available on planning and executing transportation projects?

A. The Constructed Real Property Management Handbook provides detailed transportation program guidance. 

B. Asset acquisitions (whether newly discovered or recently acquired) and disposals have specific documentation requirements. Details on responsibilities and administrative procedures for recording acquisitions and disposals are in:

(1) 260 FW 7, Plant, Property and Equipment Financial Management Guidance and the associated handbook; and

(2) Technical Bulletins and user guides for FBMS and SAMMS.