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The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


A Review of the Virginia Department of Transportation's Scoping Process and Options for Potential Improvements
Beaton, Jason S.
John S. Miller
John S. Miller
Year: 2008
VTRC No.: 08-R13
Abstract: Transportation project scoping is a process where the project's purpose and need, budget, schedule, and scope are developed. Interviews conducted with 27 staff representing VDOT, FHWA, and regional planners, coupled with a review of related literature and federal legislation, suggested 10 options for improving Virginia's scoping process. Although implementation of the first 8 options may involve, to varying degrees, both central office and district staff, the decision regarding whether or not to implement them as a matter of policy rests with VDOT's Chief Engineer. Six options regard changes in process that have already been implemented in some VDOT districts or are under consideration: (1) Select a monthly project day statewide; (2) Delineate scoping-day decisions from other activities in the scoping process; (3) Consider initiatives that have already been deployed successfully in one or more VDOT districts such as the use of a risk assessment page; (4) Allow electronic submission of the scoping report; (5) Provide resources to perform scoping prior to programming (and use this information to influence which projects are placed in the transportation program); (6) Support efforts to link planning and programming. Two options regard specific products: (1) develop a single primer that explains to an outside audience how the scoping process influences project development and is designed to improve the quality of the discussion among VDOT, localities, and other agencies regarding project scoping, and (2) consider database enhancements suggested by interviewees. The final two options regard suggestions for further research. The report gives the rationale for each option, detailing interviewees' descriptions of how scoping is done, challenges that arise when scoping specific projects, and enhancements to scoping that have been considered in individual districts.