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Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a document listing all transportation projects that will be built using federal funds (either partially or fully). Federal law requires states to develop Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs (STIPs). In North Carolina, the STIP covers a seven-year period, and is typically updated every two years. The current STIP can be found here.

The North Carolina Strategic Transportation Investment (STI) law defines the process by which the STIP is to be developed, including several opportunities for the RPO to play a role. More information on the STI can be found here and here. TARPO’s role in the process is shown in the following graphic:

Step 1 - Identify NeedsAt this step, the full set of transportation needs in an area is defined, typically through comprehensive transportation plans, bicycle and pedestrian plans, transit plans, and other local, regional, or state planning documents. TARPO is an active participant in the development of these plans.
Step 2 - Submit ProjectsAt this step, local governments, MPOs, RPOs, transit agencies, railroads, airport authorities, and NCDOT divisions submit lists of projects they would like to see considered for funding in the STIP. These projects should be based on the needs identified in Step 1. Project lists within the TARPO region are typically compiled into a single list to be submitted to NCDOT for consideration.
Step 3 - Prioritize/Score ProjectsAt this step, NCDOT performs a quantitative analysis of each submitted project based on a set of uniform criteria. At the same time, each MPO, RPO, and NCDOT Division assigns points to projects based on its own process for prioritizing projects. The quantitative scores and local prioritization points are combined into a total score that allows comparison and ranking of project priorities across the state. For information on the prioritization criteria used by TARPO, click here.
Step 4 - Develop STIPAt this step, NCDOT develops its anticipated 5-year and 10-year work plans and its STIP document. Final project selection is based on a number of factors, including prioritization scores, available funding within funding regions/divisions, funding restrictions, scheduling issues, and mode normalization. After NCDOT releases the draft STIP, TARPO and the general public will have an opportunity to provide comments on the draft.

Once a project is identified in the STIP for funding, there are several additional activities that must take place before construction can begin, including environmental analysis, roadway and structure design, and right-of-way acquisition. The graphic below shows the basic steps in the life of a project, from idea to construction, and a rough estimate of how long each step takes to complete. For a one-page handout explaining this “life cycle” of a project, click here.

For more information on the SPOT Prioritization 4.0 Process taking place in 2015 and 2016, click here.

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