Department of Transportation

Preliminary Engineering

Executive Summary

The Preliminary Engineering (PE) Phase formally begins once the Capital Program Committee (CPC) approves and advances the Concept Development (CD) Study, PE funding is authorized and an in-house designer is selected or a consultant designer is under contract for the PE Phase.  If a consultant designer is required, the consultant selection process is performed during the CD Phase and an agreement is executed before the start of the PE Phase.

The PE Phase involves performing engineering tasks and technical environmental studies. Objectives include obtaining approval from the community through a public information center, approval of the environmental document and creation of an Approved Project Plan.  If a design exception is necessary on a project, preparation and approval of the Design Exception Report will be done during the PE Phase.

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

A number of activities are simultaneously set in motion based on the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA), such as community involvement (meetings with affected property, business owners), agency consultation, environmental documentation, design level mapping and design services.

To get formal community consensus, a Public Information Center (PIC) will be conducted, which may lead to some adjustments to the PPA.  In the end, local representatives will be asked to submit a Resolution of Support endorsing the project, if formal support was not obtained during the Concept Development Phase.

To get environmental approvals for the PPA, consultation with cooperating agencies, for example, the State Historic Preservation Office, may be necessary. The approved Environmental Document will be based on technical studies conducted by the consultant and/or environmental teams within the Bureau of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Solutions.

Any new project risks from either the PIC or the environmental consultations should be provided to the Project Manager for inclusion in the Risk Register.

The tasks conducted during this phase will be based on complexity of the PPA and will include: development of design level base plans; preparation of pavement recommendation; development of geometric design (horizontal, vertical alignment, type, size, location, etc.) that clarifies environmental and right of way (ROW) impacts; utility discovery and verification; geotechnical studies (soil borings and analysis) for foundation and pavement design; preliminary drainage work; access impact evaluation; identification of new risks and risk analysis, and development of property acquisition cost estimates and a project cost estimate.


The major objective of the PE Phase is to further develop and refine the PPA with the detail necessary to secure the approval of the environmental document and a Design Exception Report.


Funding for the PE Phase is dependent on Capital Investment Planning and Development (CIPD) approval.  The project design should meet the requirements of a federally funded project. Only the amount of design required to secure the approval of the Environmental Document and a Design Exception Report is to be completed during the PE Phase.

Key Stakeholders

Consultation with regulatory/permitting agencies, local representatives and the public continues in the PE Phase to publicize the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed project and to recognize the concerns of the community.  New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are consulted to comply with the design guidelines, and Permitting Agencies are consulted to satisfy NJDOT’s legal requirements. Utility companies are conferred with to evaluate any future impacts and costs associated with the PPA, including the possible need to relocate utilities.

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

Internal Stakeholders (SME):
  • Division of Project Management
  • Bureau of Structural Engineering
  • Geometric Solutions Unit
  • Value Engineering Unit
  • Bureau of Traffic Engineering
  • Bureau of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Solutions
  • Office of Stormwater/Stream Encroachment
  • Bureau of Geotechnical Engineering
  • Bureau of Access Design and Right of Way Engineering
  • Pavement and Drainage Management
  • Bureau of Transportation Data and Safety
  • Bureau of Commuter and Mobility Strategies (Bicycle and Pedestrian Unit)
  • Office of Jurisdictional Agreements
  • Bureau of Traffic Operations
  • Bureau of Mobility and Systems Engineering
  • Regional Maintenance Operations
  • Utility Management Unit
  • Office of Schedule and Budget Management
  • Office of Constructability Review
  • Bureau of Regional Design and Surveying Services
  • Office of Geodetic Survey Services
  • Division of Community and Constituent Relations
  • Division of Bridge Engineering and Infrastructure Management
  • Division of Highway and Traffic Design
  • Risk Managment Support Group
External Stakeholders:
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • US Coast Guard
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • State Historic Preservation Office
  • Highlands Commission
  • Pineland Commission
  • Delaware River Canal Commission
  • NJ Water Authority
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority
  • South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization
  • New Jersey Turnpike Authority
  • Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
  • Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
  • Delaware River Port Authority
  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Business, community groups
  • Elected local representatives
  • Residential/commercial property owners
  • Local School Board, Hospitals
  • Commuters
Phase Initiation

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

  • CPC approves the graduation of the CD Study to the PE Phase
  • Authorization of PE funding
  • Execution of Consultant Designer Agreement
  • Closeout of CD Phase
Major Tasks

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

  • Develop design level base mapping
  • Develop PPA further to establish roadway geometry and structure type, size and location as needed to gain approval of the Design Exceptions and/or environmental document
  • Prepare pavement recommendation
  • Develop PPA further to assess Air/Noise, ecological resources, cultural resources, hazardous material and socio-economic impacts caused by the PPA
  • Prepare Environmental Document
  • Send Utility Verification Request Letter to mark utility facilities and initiate utility agreement processing
  • Perform subsurface utility engineering and test pits, if necessary
  • Perform subsurface investigation for foundation and pavement design, if necessary
  • Evaluate input and populate risk register
  • Initiate Roadway Geometrics
  • Initiate structure type, size, location determination
  • Initiate ROW/Access plans
  • Initiate utility relocation process
  • Prepare Design Exception Report, if applicable
  • Determine Project cost including construction, design, ROW, utility, maintenance/protection of traffic
  • Execute PE Public Involvement Action Plan
  • Obtain formal public consensus and resolution of support from local elected officials
  • Update Utility Risk Assessment Plan
  • Update risk register with identified risks and perform risk analysis, if necessary
  • Develop risk response strategies and action plans
  • Draft, review and finalize PE Report
  • Establishment of the project's Final Design (FD) baseline schedule and budget. That effort is needed to confirm or establish the project's funding program, and to establish funding accounts for consultant and in-house final design services
  • Execute Final Design Addendum or Agreement with a design consultant, except for in-house design projects
  • Develop FD Scope Statement
  • Identify FD activities to address specific risk response action plans

Efforts to monitor and control the project’s development during the PE 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)
  • Establishing, tracking and updating the project’s baseline schedule and budget
  • Contract Management efforts, such as reviewing and approving project invoices and accompanying progress reports

The major products for the PE Phase include:

  • Approved Environmental Document
  • Approved Project Plan
  • Approved Design Exception Report, if applicable
  • Final Design Scope Statement
  • Final Design Public Involvement Action Plan
  • Construction Cost Estimate
  • Design Level Base Mapping (1”=30 ft. scale)
  • Pavement Recommendation
  • Risk Register
  • Updated Utility Risk Assessment Plan
  • Utility Agreements, as appropriate
  • ROW impact plans, as appropriate
  • Access impact plans, as appropriate
  • Utility base plans
  • Design Communications Report
  • PE Report
Phase Closing

The following items must be completed to leave the PE Phase:

  • Final invoice payment
  • Approved Environmental Document
  • Approved Project Plan
  • Approved Design Exception Report, if applicable
  • Design Communications Report
  • Revised Scope Statement forms
  • Design Level Base Mapping
  • Pavement Recommendation
  • ROW/Access plans
  • Utility base plans
  • Utility Agreements
  • Formal public consensus and local resolution of support
  • PE Report (approved by FHWA)
  • PE designer assessment
  • Notice of Authorization

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

Flow Charts

Last updated date: July 1, 2020 3:15 PM