Facility Planning

Life of a Transportation Project

The Facility Planning Section is responsible for the Planning and Design of Transportation projects.


Collect data, develop concept plans, obtain public input,evaluate and select preferred alignment, cross section and/or improvements.  Click here for More details


Develop 35% design plans,cost estimate and project schedule. Click here for More details

Submit to County Council for approval to include in Capital Improvement Program (CIP).


If approved for full funding and is included in the CIP, complete final design and construction. Click here for More details


  • Collecting background data such as traffic and environmental inventory;
  • Reviewing the Master Plan;
  • Providing public outreach through public meetings, news letters and obtaining their input;
  • Developing concept plans;
  • Selecting a preferred alignment and establishing design parameters based on planning level analysis;
  • Briefing the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) Planning Board;
  • Obtaining concurrence from the Montgomery County Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee (T&E)
  • Approval from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT);
  • Project advances to Facility Planning Phase II


What is Facility Planning, Phase II and why is it called 35% design?

Facility Planning, Phase II occurs immediately after Phase I has concluded with a Recommended Alternative. 35% design is terminology used to describe design plans that have been developed to a point where an accurate cost estimate is possible to avoid increased costs during implementation.

The purpose of 35% plans, also commonly referred to as Preliminary Engineering, is to produce an accurate estimate for Final Design and Construction costs, which demonstrates to the County Executive and Council the project’s readiness to compete as a stand-alone CIP project. The following services occur during Facility Planning, Phase II:

  • On Going Public Input

  • Preliminary Engineering

  • Horizontal & Vertical Alignments

  • Physical Investigation

  • Soils. Storm Drains. Hydraulic. Structural. & Sediment Control

  • Right of Way

  • Intersection Geometrics

  • Final Concepts

  • Noise

  • Environmental

  • Construction Sequence

  • Quantity Take Off

  • Develop Detailed Scope. Schedule. & Cost Estimate


Public comment is encouraged during the Phase II of Transportation Facility Planning. Depending on the scale of the project, one or more public briefings may be held to provide an update on the project's status. MCDOT will receive public questions and comments at anytime during Phase II of Facility Planning.


Phase II of Transportation Facility Planning begins the preliminary engineering design work for the project. Major tasks include:

  • Performing PHYSICAL INVESTIGATION on site to develop detailed plans of the existing conditions. This includes detailed planimetric surveys of the project area/corridor.
  • Developing the HORIZONTAL (curves) and VERTICAL (grades) ALIGNMENTS

  • Determine the specific types of SOILS on site, and develop preliminary design for controlling stormwater runoff including STORM DRAINS, determining the HYDRAULIC and STRUCTURAL characteristics of the project's design, and developing a SEDIMENT CONTROL plan for use during the project's construction to control soil erosion and runoff.

  • Determine the amount or RIGHT OF WAY or land necessary to construct the

  • Determine the INTERSECTION GEOMETRICS for intersections with other County roads along the length of the project. This would include determining the number of approach and receiving lanes, cross walks,exclusive left or right turn lanes, etc.
  • Develop FINAL CONCEPTS for the design of the project at a more detailed scale than what was produced during Phase I of the Transportation Facility Planning Study.

  • Determine if special structures are necessary to mitigate NOISE impacts along the length of the project (walls, berms, etc.).

  • Determine ENVIRONMENTAL impacts and any necessary mitigation measures necessary to comply with wetlands, forest conservation, and/or other regulations.

  • Develop a CONSTRUCTION SEQUENCE for phasing the different elements
    of the construction activities. This would include interim traffic control plan, phasing of removal of existing paving/demolition, phasing of construction activities, etc.

  • Construction cost estimates are developed during the QUANTITY TAKEOFF
    phase. This is where elements of the construction process are itemized such asX tons of asphalt at $X.xx/ton; X feet of road striping at $X.xx/foot; or X street trees at $X.xx/tree, etc.


A detailed plan identifying the specific elements of the project's design and specific tasks to be performed during construction will be developed. It will also have an accurate schedule for performing the final design of the project and the length of time to construct the project. Most importantly, a reliable cost estimate will be developed for the project. When the preliminary engineering has reached the appropriate level of completion (generally 35% of final design), including accurate project schedules and cost estimates, then the Transportation Facility Planning Process for the project is complete. At this stage the project, if recommended to proceed at the end of Phase II, will now become a "stand alone" project. This means that there will now be a specific line item in the Department of Transportation's next fiscal year total budget request. A Project Description Form (PDF) for the project is submitted with the rest of the Department of Transportation budget request.



PDF (Project Description Form) submitted in CIP (Capital Improvements Program)

Every fiscal year the MCDOT submits a capital budget request to cover current approved capital projects (design & construction) and new capital project expenses. After a project has successfully made it through the Transportation Facility Planning Process it is ready to be submitted as a "stand alone" capital improvement project.

In Montgomery County the fiscal year begins on July 1st. The budget process for the coming fiscal year begins roughly one year in advance, i.e. for FY 02 (7/1/01 through
6/31/02) the process starts in late spring of 2001. The public comment period also begins in late spring with Public Forums held at the Regional Services Centers located
throughout the County. Any stand alone project, as part of the MCDOT budget request, passes through several layers of evaluation external to MCDOT including the Office of Budget and Management, the County Executive, and then the County Council.

MCDOT submits PDF's for the upcoming fiscal year to the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) in September. The Division of Transportation Engineering (DTE) is responsible for assembling many of the PDFs for transportation capital improvements for the September submission. Work on the September PDF submissions, including preliminary OMB review, starts in late spring.

The MCDOT Budget request is reviewed by the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) as part of the entire Executive Branch's budget requests. OMB then forwards its
recommendations for the budget to the County Executive. The County Executive evaluates OMB's recommendations for the CIP (Capital Improvements Program). During this time there is the opportunity for the public to provide comment on specific budget items to the County Executive. The County Executive then submits the coming Fiscal Year's request for the entire Executive Branch (including MCDOT) to the County Council for funding on January 15th, as mandated by the County Charter.

County Council has the final approval of the composition and size of the coming Fiscal Year's budget for Montgomery County. The County Council conducts public hearings on the coming year's budget as part of Montgomery County's budget process. If a "stand alone" project submitted by the MCDOT is recommended by the County Executive and then approved by the County Council as part of the next fiscal year's budget request, it is now funded for final design and construction.

You can contact your local library to see if they have a copy of the most recent approved Capital Improvement Program (CIP). You can also search Montgomery County Government's web site for additional budget information.


When the project is funded in the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), the Division of Engineering Services can then proceed with final design of the project. When final design is complete project plans are 100% complete and ready for construction. The length of time necessary to perform final design varies depending on the size and complexity of the project. Small projects may take one year or longer while larger projects may take several years to complete.

Also included in the Final Design stage is environmental agency review. The County must apply for and obtain permits before construction can begin. The permitting agencies include: Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Maryland Department of Environment, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. These agencies have the authority to request changes in project design to avoid or mitigate environmental impacts or even deny permits based on environmental impacts. Acquiring the permit for a project can sometimes lengthen the time between project's inception to the start of construction.

As the design work is completed and the final alignments and profile of the project are known, all necessary Right of Way is acquired for the project. The pace of Right of Way acquisition can also affect the project's schedule. Generally construction cannot start until all Right of Way has been acquired unless the Division of Engineering Services has been granted authority to condemn land for the project via Advanced Takings if directly authorized by the County Council.


When the plans for the project are completed, the project is ready to be bid out for construction. The DTE will procure a contractor to construct the project. When a contractor has been selected and the County and Contractor have agreed on the terms of the contract, Notice to Proceed is given and ground is broken on the project.

During the construction period the DTE supervises and inspects the work of the contractor to ensure the project is being constructed to Montgomery County's standards for design and quality. After completion and final inspection, the project is opened to the public. The "life cycle" of a transportation project is complete.