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TSMO Funding Fact Sheet: Washington State DOT

TSMO Funding and Program Integration at Washington State DOT

The Washington State Department of Transportation participated in the 2019 NOCoE Summit on TSMO Funding and Capital Improvement Process Integration (see full report). Several key and unique practices were shared by WSDOT during the summit process. These are captured below and also available in a pdf version

Key Facts

  • Washington State DOT relies primarily on State/Local focused funding with assistance on Federal funding for dedicated efforts (more details below)
  • Washington State DOT reports directly to the state Legislature as the approving authority on a biannual basis. The funding and budget is controlled by account and line item with some capital projects receiving an individual line item for the legislature to track.  TSMO does have dedicated funding but to increase funding requires legislative buy-in. The state Legislature also is able to appropriate MPO funding (60 percent of the funds stay with the state) which is not always aligned with the MPO’s interest.
  • Any increases in TSMO (operations and maintenance) through any gas tax increase is difficult because gas tax increases are focused primarily on individual projects.
  • The capital program is funded through the use of federal funds but TSMO and maintenance is funded exclusively with state funds.

Integrating TSMO into Planning

Agency highway infrastructure planning has a specific funding program that has traditionally focused safety programs. TSMO-related planning has been a part of each program’s planning efforts to varying degrees. Past operational planning has been ITS-focused. WSDOT is now initiating a TSMO-focused planning effort.

How Planning is Funded

  • Funding is established by the Legislature to conduct formal planning studies
  • Programs have some ability to conduct planning related activities associated with the objectives of each program
  • Operating funds are used to develop near term operating plans, operational planning efforts have been ad hoc

Policies for Planning

  • There are policies that direct consideration of operational solutions as part of capital program planning efforts
  • Internal policies associated with agency strategic planning efforts direct near-term operational focus be included in planning efforts

Lessons Learned from Planning

  • Operating funds have focused on implementation, making operational planning efforts challenging
  • TSMO related programs have not included or at best under-funded staffing needs to effectively engage in or lead planning efforts
  • Knowledge and tools to represent how to consider TSMO related investments within agency planning efforts are valuable to other disciplines within the agency
  • The scope and scale of many TSMO related investments (relatively low-cost) make planning and programming efforts challenging within our existing budget structure/s

Integrating TSMO into Programming

TSMO-related activities and/or investments are reflected (to different degrees) across agency funding programs. The lead program typically has scoping processes, by which TSMO engagement and associated TSMO investments are considered.

How Programming is Funded

  • Scoping is funded by the program associated with funding the design and construction of the project
  • The lead for the associated funding program determines whether TSMO investments will be funded by the program they represent
  • The TSMO program has a partnership with Capital Program Management to proactively identify operations related investments that can be addressed either through a capital project or using operating funds
  • Within the operating program there is funding to address low cost emergent needs

Policies for Programming

  • The Legislature has established specific capital and operating programs, including the Traffic Operations Program (Operating)
  • There are policies that direct consideration of operational solutions as part of capital program project planning efforts
  • Within the operating program there is funding to address low-cost emergent needs

Lessons Learned

  • Early engagement in capital projects is a necessity
  • Formal processes help ensure engagement/consideration occurs
  • Non-infrastructure needs are challenging, including funding for operating systems and labor to effectively operate new or expanded systems

Integrating TSMO into Design

The design of TSMO related infrastructure investments are typically completed by TSMO staff within the region associated with the project.

How Design is Funded

  • Staff funding for the design elements of projects are funded by the program funding the construction of the project
  • In smaller regions TSMO staff positions often contain duties associated with both design and operating functions, with partial funding from multiple programs used to fund the position/s
  • Funding for design support and training for capital projects is shared by both capital and operating programs

Policies for Design

  • Agency policy manuals (i.e., Design Manual, Traffic Manual, Construction Manual) contain direction and supporting information relative to standards and agency practices
  • HQ divisions are responsible for updating their respective manuals

Lessons Learned for Design

  • Right sizing and funding support functions is challenging, given each associated program’s objectives are implementation-related.

Integrating TSMO into Construction

Policies for Construction

  • Agency policy manuals (i.e. Design Manual, Traffic Manual, Construction Manual) contain direction and supporting information relative to standards and agency practices
  • Guidance documents are used to supplement manuals and are typically developed by the associated program discipline (such as work hours and work zone traffic impact analysis which is developed by Traffic Operations)

Lessons Learned

  • Sustaining expertise across all regions is challenging, particularly within smaller regions
  • Development of work zone strategies needs to occur early in the development of the project, and involve multiple disciplines
  • Innovative work zone strategies take dedicated staff to develop and effectively implement

Additional Information