Essentials Heading

Planning Picture
Designing Picture
Building Picture
The I-70 Projects follow the same basic project development process
as any other PennDOT project. Below is a summary of the essential
steps involved.



Planning
Before any of the I-70 projects became active, they had to first be planned and funded. Every two years, the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is required by law to prepare and submit to the State Transportation Commission an updated list of projects they recommend to be undertaken over a minimum of 20 years– known as the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is developed through public hearings held by SPC and policy direction from the State Transportation Commission. The program is biennially adopted by SPC who then submits the program to the Governor, General Assembly, and Transportation Secretary for approval.

PennDOT develops their Twelve Year Program based on the MPO’s approved TIP. District 12-0 is part of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) MPO. The first four year segment of the Twelve Year Program becomes the federally mandated Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and funding is allocated to begin those projects. Additional funding may be required for some projects before they can proceed to construction. Back to top



Designing
Changes to existing transportation facilities, such as I-70 and the surrounding local roads, are regulated by numerous environmental laws designed to protect the health and safety of the public, sensitive environmental features and property rights of land owners. For more information about the laws visit, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/env_sum.htm.

As a project is first identified, PennDOT will determine its purpose and need. From there, improvement alternatives will be considered. The alternatives will be studied for their potential impact on natural
, cultural
and socioeconomic resources
. To adhere to the various laws and regulations, the alternatives will be evaluated on their ability to address the transportation purpose and need, minimize environmental impacts and satisfy engineering criteria. During this time, coordination and outreach occurs with multiple local, state and federal agencies, local stakeholders and public officials and property owners. The level of effort for each project varies depending on the type of project, amount of impacts and degree of public controversy.

Once an improvement alternative has been selected and environmental clearance is granted, engineers will begin to finalize design plans and prepare the project for construction. PennDOT’s ultimate goal is to select, design and construct the most reasonable, practical, cost effective, technically sound and environmental sensitive transportation improvement option. Currently, there are 5 projects being designed along I-70. Back to top



Building
PennDOT has the option of two slightly different design/construction processes. The traditional design/construction process would involve finalizing engineering plans and clearing the necessary Right-of-Way (ROW) before advertising the project and selecting a contractor. An alternative option, referred to as design-build, involves advertising the project for both design and construction; therefore, the contractor is selected before engineering plans are finalized and ROW is cleared. Design-build is an attractive project delivery option when projects are less complex, such as a bridge replacement on existing alignment. In either case, PennDOT will award the project to the low bidding contractor team. Both of these delivery options have been utilized for the I-70 projects.

Before construction can begin, PennDOT will initiate the process of clearing right-of-way. The improvements along I-70 have required PennDOT to purchase additional land in most cases; however, because it is an existing facility the impacts are not typically large in scale. All right-of-way acquisition must follow federal regulations and advise property owners that they are entitled to fair market value for their property as determined by a qualified appraiser.

As the right-of-way process wraps up, construction plans will be finalized and approved. Contractors can then begin construction. Currently, there are 7 projects in construction along I-70. Back to top