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TIP Obligation Reports

Transportation Council
Eoin Wrafter, Commissioner


Mark Debald, Transportation Program Administrator


The DCTC's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) represents the five-year listing of federally funded transportation projects in Dutchess County. The TIP includes projects that will be wholly or partially paid for with funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The previous Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2014-2018 TIP went into effect on October 1, 2013, covering FFY 2014 through 2018; it was superceded on October 1, 2016 by the FFY 2017-2021 TIP. 

The TIP lists the schedule and estimated cost for each phase of a project. Project schedules and costs change periodically, usually as the result of personnel, consultant, or resource availability, and the refinement of a project’s scope as it is advanced. The TIP, though updated to reflect project schedules and costs prior to obligation, does not provide real-time, accounting-level precision of project costs and schedules. Therefore, to ensure that the public has an accurate understanding of how federal funds are actually spent on transportation projects, the current federal transportation law, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), includes a requirement that organizations responsible for approving the TIP publish an annual listing of project obligations ("Obligation Report"): Annual Listing of Obligated Projects for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2017 (.pdf)

What are project obligations?

One might think of this as setting up a checking account for a purchase and then making an initial deposit. In order to begin work on any phase of a transportation project, federal funds must be obligated. This means that money is set aside for that particular project (deposited in the "checking account" for the project), which can then be used to pay bills. The project expenses may be bills from a design consultant, a construction contractor, or payroll costs for agency employees working on the project.

Do project obligations mean the work is underway?

Not always. Project obligations are made to allow a project phase to begin, but it takes time to get work underway once the phase is obligated. For example, once the construction phase is obligated, the project can then be advertised for bids. The advertisement period can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project (up to five weeks in some cases). Bids are then opened and verified and the project awarded to a contractor. This process can create a three to four month lag between initial obligation and noticeable work performed by the contractor at the site.

There are instances when a project phase is obligated, but work is never started or not completed in a timely manner; these are generally due to competing sponsor priorities and funding constraints. If there is a question on the status of a specific project, we recommend that the project sponsor be contacted.

Project Listing

The current Obligation Report (.pdf) lists projects that had federal funds obligated during FFY 2017 (October 1, 2016–September 30, 2017) in the FFY 2017-2021 TIP. The listing is split into two parts: FHWA and FTA funded projects. The Obligation Report includes basic data about each obligated project, such as the Project Identification Number (PIN), project description and sponsor, total federal cost, the amount of federal funds programmed on the TIP, and the amount of federal funds obligated in FFY 2017. The Obligation Report (.pdf) only includes information on project phases obligated in FFY 2017. Below are phases mentioned in this listing:

  1. Scoping: This phase includes meetings with project developers and designers, local government representatives, and other involved parties. Decisions are made about the specific elements that will be included in the project and the range of design alternatives that will be investigated.
  2. Preliminary Design: This phase includes basis engineering work on each alternative, traffic studies, environmental analyses, and other work specific to the project. Public outreach in accordance with state and federal requirements is used to gain community input on the project. This phase ends with the selection and approval of a preferred design alternative.
  3. Detailed Design: Development of the actual plans and specifications that the construction contractor will use for the project.
  4. Right-of-Way (ROW) Incidentals: Preparation work done prior to the acquisition of right-of way (property).
  5. Right-of-Way (ROW) Acquisition: This phase includes the acquisition of right-of-way (property) necessary to complete the project. Acquisition can be achieved through the purchase of property or an easement.
  6. Construction: Actual construction and related activities, beginning with the letting of the contract, through the award of the contract, actual construction, and acceptance of all construction work.
  7. Construction Inspection: This phase includes ongoing inspection activities to ensure that construction conforms to accepted state specifications. This work is often contracted out to a separate, private entity.
  8. Miscellaneous: This phase is often associated with transit projects, and corresponds to the construction phase of a highway project. It represents the phase of the project where the proposed improvement is actually implemented. For transit projects, this can involve the purchase and acquisition of vehicles and associated preventive maintenance. In some cases (e.g. station or parking and maintenance/storage facility), this phase represents the construction of fixed or permanent facilities.

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