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Top Ten hints for TEA trail projects

Funding from Enhancements and other federal transportation programs bring big challenges to project sponsors.

By Larry Peterson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Engineering Design Supervisor

10. If you have a workable preliminary design when you make your application, your chances of a successful project are much higher.

9. Designate a project manager that will push the project through all levels of bureaucracy with steady, professional persistence. If your project manager is an engineer who has previous design experience with federal aid or state aid highway design, your project gets another big boost toward completion.

8. Find the money to pay your project manager; it is not a volunteer job and it will not be reimbursed by ISTEA funds.

7. Allow plenty of time for environmental documentation; 4 to 6 months is often typical. Wetland issues, historic preservation and archaeological issues, site contamination, and the presence of threatened or endangered species can all slow down your progress, but are important issues that must be addressed.

6. Make friends with your local county engineer or municipal engineer, buy him lunch or a few beers after work and tap his vast knowledge of Mn/Dot State Aide design process. Better yet convince him to sponsor your project.

5. The location or route and cost estimate listed when you originally apply should not be a rough guess or approximation; pin it down as best as you can because significant deviations will be difficult as you move through the process. Own the land or access rights when you start, if possible, because acquisition problems will bog down your design faster than anything.

4. Get your designer involved at the start, so that the design criteria and technical details in the application and environmental documentation are accurate and will not change radically during final design.

3. Understand up front that the design you are producing in a Mn/Dot style design, using Mn/Dot specifications, to be let by Mn/Dot. If your designer doesn't have the Mn/Dot Specification Manual and the Mn/Dot Standard Plates and Design Manuals, he needs to get them.

2. If you are successful with your design and move to construction, don't underestimate the effort necessary for construction inspection and administrator; you need an inspector familiar with Federal Aid construction that has the necessary Mn/Dot technical certifications.

1. Make friends with your Mn/Dot District State Aid Engineer; you are going to spend a lot of time together.

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