Looking for a high-level overview of SMART SCALE or have general questions about the process? Check out the Policy Guide.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed House Bill 2 into law in 2014, which directs the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to develop and use a prioritization process to select transportation projects to be funded.
The legislation is intended to improve the transparency and accountability of project selection, as well as provide improved stability in the Six-Year Improvement Program. The legislation can be reviewed here.
The process will score projects based on an objective and fair analysis applied statewide. This process will help the CTB select projects that provide the maximum benefits for tax dollars spent.
Prioritization requires the CTB to develop and implement a prioritization process for projects funded in the Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) that is objective and quantifiable. While the Code of Virginia does not require the CTB to allocate funds to the highest-scoring project(s), this process will increase transparency and accountability in the selection of projects for funding in the SYIP.
More information can be found at the website listed at virginiahb2.com/resources
Highway, transit, rail, road, operational improvements and transportation demand management projects and strategies will be considered as shown in Table B-1. However, projects must meet a need identified in VTrans 2040 for a Corridor of Statewide Significance, Regional Network or Urban Development Area to be considered. For more information on project eligibility, please see Section 2 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide, Project Eligibility and Application Process.
Table B-1 Smart Scale Applicable/Eligible Project Types and Project Features
|Project Type||Project Features|
|Travel Demand Management (TDM)||
|Right of Way||
There are several categories of federal and state funds that are non-exempt. In general, they are “discretionary” in that they can be applied to a variety of project types and geographic areas at the discretion of the CTB. Non-exempt fund types include, but are not limited to, the following:
- National Highway Performance Program (formerly NHS, now NHPP)
- Surface Transportation Program (STP)
- CTB formula: High priority projects (through Fiscal Year 2020)
- CTB formula: PPTA projects (through Fiscal Year 2020)
- CTB formula: High-tech infrastructure improvements (through Fiscal Year 2020)
- Various bond proceeds
- State Formula Funds (Fiscal Year 2021 and beyond)
Several fund types are exempt from Smart Scale by code, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Funding (CMAQ)
- Regional Surface Transportation Program Funds (RSTP)
- Revenue sharing
- Transportation Alternatives Program
- Access program funding
- Highway Safety Improvement Program and other safety program funds
- Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regional funding
- Telefees and unpaved road-related funds
- Dedicated bridge program funds (through Fiscal Year 2020)
- State of Good Repair
Projects submitted as candidates for Smart Scale funding will be held to a basic standard of development to assure that they can be evaluated reliably. VDOT and DRPT intend to provide support to project applicants prior to application to help project applicants understand and meet expectations. Project applicants are encouraged to initiate coordination with VDOT and DRPT staff prior to and during the application period to ensure that candidate projects are adequately developed.
Key components in the project scope/description will include the project limits, physical and operational characteristics, and physical and/or operational footprint.
Certain projects that are based on conceptual planning-level recommendations and have not been formally scoped or defined, may require additional planning/pre-scoping level work before their benefits can be adequately assessed according to the Smart Scale factors and measures. For more information on the pre-application or early application, please see Section 2 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide.
Applicants are encouraged to focus on quality rather than quantity when identifying candidate projects for Smart Scale evaluation.
Yes. Localities should indicate their desire to administer the project as part of the Smart Scale application process. Per the Smart Scale Implementation Policy Guide, estimates to be used for scoring purposes on proposed locally administered projects should still be validated by VDOT and/or DRPT staff. Any projects selected for funding that fall under DRPT oversight should follow the DRPT Project Partnership process. Any projects selected for funding that fall under VDOT oversight should follow the guidelines as outlined in the Locally Administered Projects Manual. Click here for the manual.
Yes. A project may concurrently be submitted for consideration under Smart Scale and other VDOT or DRPT funding programs. Any other funds awarded will be noted for the CTB’s consideration in allocation decisions. Localities (or other applicants) should indicate their intent to apply for other VDOT or DRPT funds as part of the Smart Scaleapplication process. VDOT and DRPT staff are currently modifying existing programs’ application forms for other grant programs to request that applicants indicate if they are applying for funding through Smart Scale. Proposed funding requests through other application-based funding programs managed by VDOT or DRPT (or other entities) may not be used to reduce the “Smart Scale-Funded Cost” for purposes of calculating the project’s final score since those funds have not yet been awarded or committed.
No. It is expected that the level of previously allocated and/or other committed funds will be maintained on projects receiving additional funding under the Smart Scale process or risk re-scoring of the project as the project’s benefit relative to Smart Scale-funded cost would be impacted.
No. All applications for projects to be considered for funding through the Smart Scale process should be submitted during the application period, which will be open from August 1 through September 30.
Paragraph B of HB2 requires “a statewide prioritization process for the use of funds allocated to pursuant to §33.2-214.1 or apportioned pursuant to 23 USC 104.” Federal funds apportioned to DRPT by FTA for transit are generally applied to operation and maintenance of transit services and facilities and are not referenced in this portion of the code. Requests to use non-exempt federal funds for transit projects would be subject to Smart Scale scoring.
UDAs are areas where jurisdictions intend to concentrate future population growth. The VTrans2040 Needs Assessment will include any locally designated growth areas that have a comprehensive plan reference to the UDA section as being qualified for Smart Scale screening, even if they are not named as UDAs. Designated growth areas with the proper code reference submitted after Oct. 1, 2015, will still be included in the VTrans2040 Multimodal Needs Assessment (VMTP) in an ongoing fashion; however they will not be considered in the first round of Smart Scale project screening.
How to Apply
Projects may be submitted by regional entities including Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Planning District Commissions (PDCs), along with public transit agencies; counties; and cities and towns that maintain their own infrastructure.
The online application can be accessed at http://hb2app.virginiahb2.org/#/
An application worksheet is available on the Smart Scale website, which can be used to prepare the data and other information prior to completing the online application. Information included on the application worksheet can be cut and pasted into the online application. Please see the website above to download this worksheet. A help guide has been prepared to assist in using the application worksheet. Click here for the help guide
To submit the application, you need to prepare resources and project information ahead of time. For a list of these resources and materials, see Table 2.2 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide. A significant amount of data and information needed to calculate benefits will be provided by DRPT and VDOT. For a list of these resources and materials, see Table 2.2 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide and for more information on HB2 measure data responsibilities. A pre-application coordination form and associated help document have been created to assist you in working with VDOT and DRPT to develop projects for submission.
Ultimately, the project applicant is required to submit the final application prior to the September 30 deadline. Others in the applicant’s organization may be designated as editors in the online application portal in order to aid in completing the application information. A key guiding theme in developing the application is that it should not require applicants to invest significant time and resources for submission of project information, or require the use of consultants to develop an eligible application.
VDOT and DRPT staff are available to provide support and tools for applicants in compiling data and information needed for application. For more information on who can submit an application, please see Table 2.1 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide.
A pre-application coordination form and associated help document have been created to assist you in working with VDOT and DRPT to develop projects for submission. Early coordination between project applicants and VDOT and DRPT staff is strongly encouraged, as it provides an opportunity to compile and develop necessary data ahead of the screening and application process. Figure 2.1 in the Smart Scale Policy Guide highlights the critical questions project applicants should contemplate and work with VDOT and DRPT on prior to the call for Smart Scale project submissions on August 1.
VDOT has established local points of contact to coordinate with applicants throughout the process up until the September 30 application deadline. For more information on the pre-application or early application, see Section 2 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide.
An application worksheet is available on the Smart Scale website, which can be used to prepare the data and other information prior to completing the online application. Click here to view the application worksheet.
Accurate cost estimates are critical because cost impacts the project score and cost-estimate increases could force the project to be rescored in subsequent Smart Scale cycles.
VDOT and DRPT will assist applicants with the development of cost estimates. Prior to submitting project applications, applicants should work in conjunction with VDOT and DRPT staff to develop reliable cost estimates as part of the application process.
For projects in which the applicant requests VDOT administer the project, VDOT will be responsible for providing the applicant with a cost estimate for each project application. If the applicant has provided an estimate, VDOT will be required to validate the estimate for use on each project application.
For projects in which the applicant requests to locally administer the project (and for all DRPT oversight projects), the applicant may provide a cost estimate for each project application, however VDOT and/or DRPT staff must validate the estimate for use on each project application.
If there is disagreement concerning the estimate that cannot be resolved between the applicant and the VDOT/DRPT local contact, the applicant may request resolution from the VDOT district engineer/administrator or the DRPT director.
For more information on project cost estimating, see Section 2.3 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide.
For the online application, visit http://hb2app.virginiahb2.org/#/ and complete the steps as indicated in the application wizard. Text and data may be transferred from the completed application worksheet document.
Note: The primary contact for the submission will receive a confirmation email at the email address provided on the application to confirm that the application submission has been received.
For highway projects, localities should work initially with the VDOT resident administrator/resident engineer, and regional entities (MPOs/PDCs) should work with the planning and investment manager/district planning manager to address questions and compile information. Depending on the project, district resources will be made available to assist with refining project scopes, schedules and estimates. These resources may include the district project development engineer (PE manager), district bridge engineer, district construction engineer, regional ROW manager, district traffic engineer/Operations, and district planning manager. A list of VDOT and DRPT contacts is shown in Table C-1 and C-2 below and is also available through the on-line application.
For highway projects applicants should work with the applicable VDOT project manager in each district, listed in Table C-1 below:
Table C-1 VDOT representatives: Highway projects
|VDOT District||Representative||Phone||Email Address|
|Hampton Roads||Dawn Odom||757-925-1581||Dawn.Odom@VDOT.Virginia.gov|
|Northern Virginia||Andy Beacher||703-259-2239||Andrew.Beacher@VDOT.Virginia.gov|
For transit and rail projects applicants should work with the applicable DRPT project manager, listed in Table C-2 below:
Table C-2 DRPT representatives: Transit/rail projects
|Transit (Central)||Patrice Strachan||804-786-7940||Patrice.firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Transit (Hampton Roads)||Steven Hennesseeemail@example.com|
|Transit (Southwest)||Neil Shermanfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Transit (Northern Virginia)||Todd Horsleyemail@example.com|
Applications may be edited after they are submitted up until the end of the application period, Sept. 30, 2015. No additional information may be submitted after Sept. 30, 2015, for consideration in this Smart Scale cycle.
Each file upload cannot exceed 15 megabytes, though there is no limit to the number of files uploaded. Enough information should be provided to complete a scope, estimate, and schedule.
December 1 is the resolution submittal deadline. Should an applicant not have a resolution available to upload by September 30, a document referencing the intended resolution delivery schedule is recommended for the project application. After September 30, resolutions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost to develop projects to a more detailed level should be included in the estimate and also included as “other” funds committed to the project. No funds expended by localities will be reimbursed.
Project Scoring And Prioritization Process
Following the close of the application period, OIPI, VDOT and DRPT staff will conduct an application validation review and begin screening and scoring candidate projects. In January, a list of all submitted projects and their scores will be submitted to the CTB and posted on-line. The CTB will use this information to inform their funding decisions to support development of the draft SYIP in April.
As discussed in Section 4.2 of the Policy Guide, QA/QC review will be conducted by an internal technical group as well as by an external policy group. Once the technical evaluation team finalizes the measures scoring of all submitted projects, the results will be reviewed by a policy review group consisting of stakeholder representatives such as VACO and VML staff.
Page 14 of the Policy Guide states: Note that if an applicant submits more than one project for consideration, as part of the application process, each applicant will be asked to rank their submitted projects in order of priority. VDOT/DRPT will evaluate projects in order of priority. Once a project is scored, the ranking of projects will only be based on the scores, not on the jurisdictional priorities.
Project scoring and selection under Smart Scale will take place as part of the SYIP development process. The CTB is considering undertaking the Smart Scale application process every two years (after the first two annual cycles) to allow for sufficient funds to be available to cover allowable cost increases on existing projects and allow for funds to be available for new projects to be funded in the future years of the SYIP - no decision has been made at this time. Project applicants will have the opportunity to resubmit projects not selected for funding for future consideration. If a project selected for funding has a significant change in scope or cost, it may need to be rescored and funds may be reprogrammed. Click here to view the policy guide.
Information on project scores, as well as additional information related to the project, such as the items noted above, will be presented to the CTB to aid in project funding decisions. Both the benefit relative to the Smart Scale cost and the benefit relative to the total cost will be provided to the CTB.
Submitted applications may be edited up until the application deadline. No changes to submitted applications may be submitted after the application deadline passes.
In general, once a project has been screened, scored, and selected for funding by the CTB, it will remain in the SYIP as a funding priority. Certain circumstances may warrant a re-evaluation of the project score and funding decision as described in Section 3.2 and Section 5.3 of the Smart Scale Policy Guide.
No, the CTB may choose to fund projects that do not align with Smart Scale priorities.
Eligible localities can submit projects within their boundaries. A locality only needs a resolution of support from an MPO/PDC if they are submitting a project on a Corridor of Statewide Significance.
SMART SCALE Programming And Project Funding
For projects selected to be funded through this process, funds will be programmed to projects based on their phase estimates and schedules, as well as the availability of program funds in each fiscal year. In general, preliminary engineering must be fully funded by the start of the right of way phase; the right of way phase must be fully funded by the start of the construction phase, and the construction phase must be fully funded within 12 months of completion. Funds are programmed according to how they will be obligated and expended.
It is important to note that based on project costs, schedules and the availability of eligible fund types, lower scoring projects may receive full funding prior to higher scoring projects based on when projects need the funds to support anticipated cash flow needs for project development. VDOT and DRPT optimize when and how funds are programmed to maximize the number of projects that can be funded concurrently. Below is an example of how a project selected for funding through this process may be funded within the SYIP:
Surplus non-exempt funds will be reprogrammed to address needs on underway HB2 projects, re-allocated as part of the next Smart Scale cycle or used to address revenue reductions. Fund transfers required to facilitate project development on ongoing projects are provided to the CTB for approval as necessary.
Reductions in funding available through Smart Scale due to reduced revenue estimates will be addressed as part of the annual SYIP update. Every effort will be made to stretch funding on selected projects to keep projects on schedule. If necessary, funding will be released from lower scoring project(s) to balance the statewide program.
If a project is identified to receive non-exempt funding through the HB2 scoring process, but is not scheduled to start until future years, can a locality or Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) choose to accelerate project development by allocating or applying for exempt funding sources to be programmed on the project earlier?
Yes. A locality or MPO may advance exempt funding on a project selected for funding under Smart Scale. However, non-exempt project funding subject to Smart Scale will be reduced by the amount of exempt funding applied to the project. Surplus non-exempt funds will be reprogrammed to address needs on underway Smart Scale projects, re-allocated as part of the next Smart Scale cycle or used to address revenue reductions.
- Refer to section 5.3 “Annual Process Issues” of the Smart Scale Implementation Policy Guide. A project that has been selected for funding must be re-scored if either of the following conditions apply:
- Change in scope significant enough to impact anticipated benefits associated with the project or to require the location decision, environmental review process (NEPA), or public hearing to be revisited
- An estimate increase prior to construction contract award that forces the total cost estimate of the project over the thresholds for the original score or most recent re-score, unless local or other exempt funding is identified to support the increase. Estimate increases meeting the following criteria will require a re-scoring:
- For a project with a total estimated cost of less than $5 million: 20 percent increase in estimate prior to award of construction contract
- For a project with a total estimated cost of $5 million to $10 million: $1 million or greater increase in estimate prior to award of construction contract
- For a project with a total estimate cost of $10 million or greater: 10 percent increase in estimate prior to award of construction contract or $5 million or greater increase in estimate prior to award of construction contract
- CTB action is required to confirm the board’s commitment to funding of the project based on the new score prior to the transfer of previous and/or program year funds. Cost increases below the above thresholds will be addressed according to regular business rules in accordance with the CTB policy for fund transfers.
Cost increases below the thresholds identified in Section 5.3 of the Smart Scale Implementation Policy Guide will be addressed according to regular business rules in accordance with the CTB policy for fund transfers. For cost increases above the allowable thresholds, refer to the “What constitutes a significant scope change or estimate increase that would require a project to be re-scored?” FAQ for further guidance.
Project estimates should be kept up to date. Minor adjustments to project funding needs will be made as part of the annual SYIP update process.
No. The state is required by Code of Virginia to maximize the use of federal funds and employs a variety of methods for programming funds to accomplish this. Federal funds are programmed based on project phase estimates and schedules so that funds can be obligated in the year in which they are allocated. Smart Scale will help provide more stability in the SYIP and further facilitate planning and meeting the state’s federal strategy.
Projects selected for funding under Smart Scale that are federally eligible, will be developed as federal projects.
If a project that is selected for funding through this process has a surplus of funds during project development or at the completion of the project, what happens to those funds? Are they available for use on other projects that have been scored and selected for partial funding in the same district or geographic region?
Smart Scale is a statewide process. Surplus non-exempt funds will be reprogrammed to address needs on underway Smart Scale projects, re-allocated as part of the next Smart Scale cycle, or used to address revenue reductions. Surplus funds made available through the Construction District Grant Program and High Priority Projects Program will remain within these respective programs. Allocation adjustments made as part of the annual SYIP update or subsequent Smart Scale cycle will be approved by the CTB as part of the SYIP adoption. Allocation adjustments required as part of the project development process and below the thresholds identified for re-scoring will be made by VDOT and DRPT and fund transfers will be provided to the CTB for approval as necessary. For allocation adjustments above the identified thresholds, CTB approval will be required to demonstrate continued commitment to the project based on the revised score and to transfer any needed funding.
If a project is selected for funding in an approved SYIP through the SMART SCALE process, the intent is to keep that project as a priority for funding in subsequent SYIPs even if future program constraints require temporarily shifting funding on these projects from lower priority projects or beyond the current six-year window.
It is the intent of the CTB to release the results of the scoring process prior to development of the SYIP. The CTB will make funding selections and approved projects will be programmed into the draft SYIP according to their schedules and estimates in April of each year. Final programming of these projects, along with their proposed schedule and estimates, will be shown in either the VDOT or DRPT portion of the Final SYIP adopted by the CTB in June of each year.
FAQ last updated 07/31/2015