Department of Transportation

Final Design

The Final Design (FD) Phase formally begins once Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approves the FD funding and the FD Addendum is executed. If the Preliminary Engineering (PE) Designer is not retained for FD, the process to select a new designer is initiated. This phase of project development concludes in the completion of construction contract documents (i.e., project plans, specifications, construction schedule and construction estimate).

The FD Phase includes continuing and completing tasks started during the PE Phase, such as roadway design, bridge design, right of way and access engineering, utility engineering, environmental permits and clearances, risk management and community outreach. The completion of these tasks involves various internal and external project stakeholders. Stakeholder coordination includes review meetings with internal offices and communication with local officials, the general public and other state and federal agencies. Communication with public and local officials is guided by a project-specific public involvement action plan.

Note: Projects meeting the requirements of Limited Scope will include a subset of the FD Phase elements listed above.

The FD Phase is completed when the project is authorized for construction, which initiates the Construction (CON) Phase of project delivery. FD closeout activities include closing the project’s design job number and issuing an addendum to the design consultant’s contract covering any needed construction engineering services.


The major objective of the FD Phase is to produce the project’s construction contract documents (i.e., Final Plans, Specifications, and Cost Estimate) for use in soliciting bids from prospective contractors, and moving the project to the CON Phase. This requires the continuation and completion of environmental and engineering tasks initiated in the PE Phase.

An important objective during the FD Phase is to maintain the project’s scope, as defined by the products completed during the Concept Development (CD) and PE Phases. Some actions used to maintain the project’s scope include informing stakeholders of the project’s scope, the main goals and objectives and schedule and budgetary constraints. Any proposed change in the project scope, as defined in the New Jersey Department of Transportation's (NJDOT) project development procedures, requires approval from NJDOT’s Change Control Board.

Developing quality products is another important objective of the FD Phase. The phase includes quality-based tasks, such as completion of the Quality Management Final Design Submission Certification and Plans, Specifications and Estimate Certification by the designer, the completion of a formal Design Communications Report (DCR) for each project, and the use of on-board reviews to obtain any necessary input and guidance from various subject matter experts.  The DCR documents the various coordination efforts completed for the project with internal and external stakeholders, and serves to document project-related directions and decisions.

Maintenance of the project’s budget and schedule are also important objectives of the FD Phase. The phase includes budget and schedule maintenance tasks, including routine monitoring and updating of the budget and schedule, maintenance of the project’s scope, and identifying and approving budget and/or schedule revisions when necessary.


Funding for the FD Phase requires authorization and may involve state and/or federal funding sources. Depending on the project’s specific scope, funding authorizations also may be needed for the purchase of right of way, and for utility accommodations associated with the CON Phase. When using federal funding, authorization requests must be supported by an environmental document.

Key Stakeholders

Producing the project’s construction contract documents and obtaining the necessary environmental permits and clearances requires coordination with numerous internal and external stakeholders.  Major internal stakeholders include Subject Matter Experts (SME) in design, environmental, and landscape architecture offices, and NJDOT’s administrative management and public relations personnel. Additional outside agencies include other state and federal transportation agencies, state and federal environmental resource agencies, and offices and organizations affiliated with any counties and municipalities affected by the project. 

During this phase, the FD Public Involvement Action Plan (PIAP) is executed for the project, that will guide activities to communicate news and information to municipal, county and state officials and the general public. Specific activities will vary depending on the project’s scope and complexity. Actions may include public information centers, formal public hearings, briefings with municipal, county and state representatives, press releases, a project-specific web site, and newsletters.

Some typical Project Stakeholders include, but are not limited to, the following:

Internal Stakeholders (SME):
  • Division of Project Management
  • Division of Community and Constituent Relations
  • Bureau of Structural Engineering
  • Bureau of Traffic Engineering
  • Bureau of Transportation Data and Safety
  • Geometric Solutions Unit
  • Value Engineering Unit
  • Bureau of Quality Management Services
  • Bureau of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Solutions
  • Hydraulics and Hydrology
  • Bureau of Program Systems Management
  • Office of Schedule and Budget Management
  • Division of Bridge Engineering and Infrastructure Management
  • Division of Highway and Traffic Design
  • Bureau of Access Design and Right of Way Engineering
  • Office of Geotechnical Engineering
  • Pavement and Drainage Management
  • Regional Maintenance Operations
  • Utility Management Unit
  • Bureau of Regional Design, and Surveying Services
  • Bureau of Mobility and and Systems Engineering
  • Office of Constructability Review
  • Bureau of Construction Management
  • Bureau of Commuter and Mobility Strategies (Bicycle and Pedestrian Unit)
  • Risk Management Support Group
External Stakeholders:
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • NJ Department of Environmental Protection (e.g., Land Use Permits, State Historic Preservation Office, Green Acres, etc.)
  • Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
  • Pinelands Commission
  • Highlands Commission
  • D&R Canal Commission
  • Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
  • Delaware River Ports Authority
  • NJ Water Supply Authority
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Coast Guard
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Business groups
  • Local Officials
  • Elected Officials
  • Affected residents
Phase Initiation

To initiate the FD Phase, the following activities should be completed:

  • Approval of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document
  • Approval of the Design Exception Report, if applicable
  • Approval of the FD Project Management Plan and Annual Financial Plan (only for major projects)
Major Tasks

The major tasks associated with the FD Phase are summarized below:

  • Implementation of the FD Public Involvement Action Plan
  • Identify any new risks
  • Review and implement risk response action plans, as necessary
  • Completion of Right of Way Engineering and Right of Way Acquisitions
  • Completion of engineering for Utility Accommodations/Relocations
  • Completion of Supplemental Surveys, as required, to produce the project’s construction contract documents
  • Completion of Structures Plans and Documents
  • Completion of Horizontal and Vertical Geometry and Roadway Plans
  • Completion of Access Design for residential and/or commercial driveways affected by the project
  • Secure Environmental Permits and any other environmental clearances required for the project
  • Completion of Environmental Plans
  • Completion of Environmental Reevaluations, as required
  • Completion of Drainage Design
  • Completion of Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Report and Design
  • Completion of Design Communications Report
  • Execution of Jurisdictional Agreements
  • Execution of Local Police Traffic Agreement for traffic control during construction
  • Completion of Pavement Design
  • Completion of Landscape Design
  • Completion of Traffic Signing, Striping and Signal Plans
  • Completion of Lighting Design
  • Completion of Intelligent Transportation Systems Facilities Design
  • Completion of an Interim Design Submission, if necessary
  • Prepare Risk Report
  • Review of Design Deliverables by appropriate Subject Matter Experts (SME) 
  • Review of Final Design Submission by appropriate SME
  • Review of the FD Submission by the FHWA, if necessary, as outlined in the Stewardship Agreement with NJDOT
  • Resolution of FD Comments as documented in the project’s Design Communications Report
  • Certification of the Project’s Construction Contract Documents (i.e., Plans, Specifications, and Estimate)

Efforts to monitor and control the project’s development during the FD Phase include:

  • Updating the project’s Design Communications Report
  • Maintaining the project's risk register
  • Providing project background information, progress reports, and important issues and items in NJDOT’s Project Reporting System (PRS)
  • Tracking and updating the project’s baseline schedule and budget
  • Contract Management efforts, such as reviewing and approving project invoices and accompanying progress reports
  • On-site Monitoring of Design Consultant to review project progress, status of budget, and quality of products
  • Presenting project status at Department meetings, such as 60- to 90-Day Look Ahead Meetings and Pre-Advertisement Meetings
  • Presenting any major deviations in the project’s scope to the Department’s Change Control Board

The major products for the FD Phase include:

  • Project Contract Documents (Plans, Specifications, and Construction Estimate) to obtain bids from prospective contractors
  • Environmental Re-evaluation
  • Project Environmental Permits and Clearances
  • Executed Jurisdictional Agreement with involved municipalities and counties, as required
  • Executed Utility Agreements
  • Right of Way acquired for the project
  • Access Design Agreements executed with property owners whose driveways are affected by the project
  • Completed Design Communications Report
  • Completed Risk Report
  • Construction schedule that supports the overall project completion time frames outlined in the project’s specifications
Phase Closing

The following items must be completed to close out the FD Phase:

  • For federally funded projects, a Department Certification of the project’s Plans, Specifications, and Construction Estimate (i.e., Construction Contract Documents)
  • Designer’s certification of the Construction Contract Documents (FD Submission and Plans, Specifications, and Construction Estimate Submission)
  • Department Certification of the Construction Contract Documents to FHWA
  • Department Right of Way Certification, documenting the availability of the right of way needed for the project, or identifying when such right of way will be available
  • Department Utility Certification, documenting that all required utility company agreements are executed and any appropriate utility agreement modifications are underway
  • Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Certification
  • Approved Environmental Permits and Clearances
  • For federally funded projects, a project summary information form in support of the construction funding authorization request
  • For federally funded projects, an appropriate environmental document (typically an Environmental Re-evaluation), in support of the funding authorization request
  • For state funded projects, for which the design was completed with federal funds, an updated environmental document must be provided to FHWA.
  • A completed job number request form (AC-1643) to secure a new job number for the Construction Phase

Some files are in Portable Document Format (PDF) and will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (available at our Adobe Access Page).

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Last updated date: June 22, 2023 10:56 AM