​Road Design: Urban Systems Program

This site will provide you with an overview of the program's funding, participants, and types of projects along with a discussion on how the process works.


The original funding source for this program was the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970. This act established a federal-aid urban system in all urbanized areas in excess of 50,000 inhabitants. Since this first act, funding for this program has been continued through other legislative acts. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 established the STP funding source. This category was continued in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Included in these acts was a sub-allocation of the STP funds for urbanized areas of more than 200,000. There is a separate funding allocation for urbanized areas with a population between 50,000 and 200,000.

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO):

Louisiana has eleven MPO areas that work with the DOTD Planning Section to determine projects. There are three metropolitan areas that have a population greater than 200,000 and eight metropolitan areas with a population between 50,000 and 200,000.

The MPO is the forum for cooperative transportation decision-making for the metropolitan planning area. A MPO must be designated for each urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000 by agreement between the Governor and units of general purpose local government that together represent at least 75% of the affected population (including the central city). A MPO typically includes a technical staff, at least one Technical Advisory Committee, and a Policy Committee. The MPO Policy Committee is primarily comprised of local elected officials from the various municipalities within the metropolitan area, but also includes representation from DOTD. The MPO Policy Committee is the decision-making body regarding transportation projects within the metropolitan area.

Types of Projects:

This category of funding encompasses many different types of projects. Some of the projects that have been completed by this program include reconstruction of existing routes, overlaying existing routes, adding capacity to existing routes, computerized signal systems, construction or reconstruction of bridges and construction of sidewalks and bike paths. The MPO has great flexibility in the use of its funds.

How the Process Works:

  • The cities and/or parishes (for brevity we will consider that both entities are represented by the term "City") initiate the project through the MPO. The MPO must incorporate the projects in its region into a financially constrained Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The projects must be included in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and the TIP before design can begin.
  • The City or the MPO will request the LA DOTD to obtain a construction number for the project. The project manager will send a project information questionnaire to the entity. This questionnaire will provide the coordinator with the vital information required to obtain a project number and the Entity State Agreement. Examples of the information requested include a location map, scope of the project, the funding and consultant selection. If the City wishes the DOTD to obtain a consultant for design, they must request this assistance in writing at this time. This information must be provided before design of the project can begin.
  • Upon receipt of the project number, the project manager will forward the information obtained in the questionnaire to the LA DOTD Contract Management Section for preparation of the Entity State Agreement. This document defines the responsibilities of the participating agencies along with the services and monies provided by each entity.
  • The City provides the data required for the environmental clearance to the LA DOTD Environmental Section. The information shall include, as a minimum, the project number, scope of the project, and a location map. The scope of the project will determine if the project has to be cleared environmentally before initiating preliminary plan design or if it can be cleared simultaneously with the development of preliminary plans. The City is responsible for all elements of the process, which may include solicitation of views, noise analysis, air analysis and public hearings/meetings.
  • Once the environmental process is cleared (defined), the project manager coordinates with the City to have the project designed to present standards. The City enters into a contract with the consultant for the design of the project. If the City hires the consultant, no federal funds can be used for the design phase. If the City wishes the LA DOTD to advertise and obtain a consultant for the design phase, the City is only required to pay the matching funds. All Urban System Program projects require the same design reviews as regular state projects.
  • The DOTD advertises and lets all Urban System Program projects. If the project is located on a state route, the LA DOTD District Construction Section will provide the construction inspection. If the project is on a non-state route, the City has the choice of hiring a consultant with their own funds or requesting the DOTD to obtain consultants through our selection process. The City is required to pay the prevailing match.
  • The City pays all invoices for design, construction and construction inspection. The City sends all paid invoices to the DOTD for the proper percentage of reimbursement. The role of the project manager is to shepherd the project through the LA DOTD process of reviews for letting.

Section Contacts:
Mailing Address: DOTD Road Design: Urban System Program
P.O. Box 94245
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9245
Physical Address: 1201 Capitol Access Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Phone Number: 225-379-1303
Fax Number: 225-379-1351