Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP)
The following sections address some frequently asked questions about Montana’s Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP).
CTEP funds come from the federal-aid highway program, which involves many complex laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures. Like other federal-aid highway projects, CTEP projects must comply with these requirements to be eligible for federal funding.
Although it’s impossible to anticipate every question or address every issue, the following questions and answers will help explain the "cans and cant’s", the "dos and don’ts" of CTEP.
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Application and Project Development Issues
Q. Is CTEP a grant program?
A. No. Funds for every eligible community are allocated to an account for your community but will be held and administered by MDT. In most cases, the local government will "pay all the bills" and MDT will reimburse you for your project with your CTEP funds. This is a cost reimbursement program, i.e. the federal portion will not be paid until the work has been satisfactorily completed.
Q. Who can develop project proposals?
A. Anyone can develop project proposals, but project applications must be submitted by the city, county or tribal commission whose CTEP funds will be used to develop and build the project.
Q. In what format must applications be submitted?
A. CTEP has a standard application form, with separate instructions, that must be submitted. The application form will provide the specific details needed to move your project forward. The application form and instructions can be found on the MDT CTEP website, or can be provided by the CTEP Section. Please call 444-1283 if you wish to receive a paper copy of the application and instructions.
Q. To whom must the applications be submitted?
A. Submit applications to:
Montana Department of Transportation
Consultant Design Bureau
Attention: CTEP Section
PO Box 201001
Helena, MT 59620-1001
Q. Does there need to be a public involvement process when choosing and prioritizing CTEP projects?
A. Yes. Minority groups, Indian reservations, special interest groups and the general public must all be provided an opportunity to participate.
Q. After a project application is approved by MDT, who will develop and implement the project?
A. The local government is responsible for all phases of project development and implementation including design, consultant selection, all necessary environmental, historical and cultural clearances, contract letting, contract administration, civil rights issues, federal-aid prevailing wage rates, DBE and ADA requirements, etc. as appropriate. All federal and state rules and regulations must be followed or the project may not be eligible for federal funding.
A local government can hire a consultant to complete these activities, as long as MDT consultant selection procedures are followed.
MDT will not conduct these activities unless the CTEP project is included as part of a planned MDT highway project. If MDT conducts these activities for you, you will be responsible for the associated costs, including the local match.
Q. What is the approval process?
A. Unless you are certain your project is eligible for CTEP funding, we suggest you write to the MDT CTEP Section describing your project (two or three paragraphs at most) and ask for a determination of CTEP eligibility. MDT will respond and if your project is eligible, you will be instructed to prepare and submit your application. The application will be reviewed by MDT for accuracy and completeness. Upon approval, the CTEP Section will help you with the necessary steps to implement the project.
Q. What steps are involved in implementing a project after the project is approved by MDT?
A. There are many steps. Every project, regardless of the type of work, must be properly prepared and meet stringent federal guidelines. The project approval and federal programming process can take up to six months to complete, so local governments should include this timeframe in their project plan and schedule. Upon completion of the approval and federal programming, the local government will be given a notice to proceed. Local governments are then responsible for project development and implementation. Each project must conform to standard design, historical, cultural, environmental, right-of-way, contract letting, civil rights and construction procedures. Those that don’t will likely be ineligible for federal funding.
Q. How detailed must the project description statement in the application be?
A. Show enough detail so MDT knows exactly what work you want done. For example, in the sketch design, show where all the facilities are located, including buildings, landscaping areas, trees, trails, building floor plans, etc. You are not expected to submit a detailed engineering plan unless you prefer to do so. Detailed plans, environmental clearance, etc. will be required after MDT approves your project application.
Q. Can a local government submit a single application, or several applications, that exceed its annual allocation of CTEP funds?
A. Yes, but you may have to wait until those funds are actually available before your application(s) will be approved.
Q. Should a local government prioritize its CTEP projects?
A. Yes. That will allow MDT to set up federal funding for your specific projects in the order of their local priorities.
Q. Can CTEP funds be used for continuing maintenance activities?
A. No. Snow removal, mowing, weed control, etc. aren’t eligible—remember, CTEP is a capital improvement program.
Q. How are eligibility determinations made?
A. MDT staff will make a preliminary determination of eligibility for each project based on criteria spelled out here and in the CTEP Manual. Once the project is approved, a project specific agreement (PSA) will be executed, and a federal aid program will be requested. The Federal Highway Administration will then make a final determination of eligibility.
Q. Are museums eligible for CTEP funding?
A. They may be eligible in limited cases where they can be shown to have a clear linkage to the transportation system and fall under any one or more of the twelve eligibility categories.
Q. Can CTEP funds be used for educational purposes or for hiring personnel for educational purposes?
A. Yes. CTEP is able to reimburse 100% for bicycle and pedestrian safety education projects.
Q. What projects are eligible under the three "Historical" categories?
A. A project or property must be on, eligible for, or determined to be a prime candidate for the National Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Preservation Officer will assist in making the latter determination.
Q. Can CTEP funds be used to pay staff salaries at the local level for planning, administrative activities or CTEP proposal development?
A. No. CTEP is a capital improvements program. While CTEP funds can’t be used for planning activities or project proposal development, they can be used for city or county staff time spent on designing the project, preparing environmental and other necessary clearances, contract development and contract letting activity, and contract administration and construction engineering. Before proceeding, you must have written authorization from MDT for all CTEP-funded phases and activities.
Q. Are bicycle racks and other bicycle and pedestrian amenities eligible?
A. Amenities for bicyclists or pedestrians such as bike racks and benches are eligible under most circumstances. Restrooms may also be eligible as a pedestrian or bicycle facility under some circumstances. Before submitting an application that includes restrooms, contact MDT for eligibility.
Q. Is playground equipment eligible?
A. No. Anything that is of a strictly recreational nature or that is not linked to the transportation system will not be considered eligible.
Q. Are sidewalks (new or reconstruction) eligible for CTEP funding?
A. Yes, as long as they are used primarily for non-recreational purposes, are in public ownership for use by the general public, and meet all ADA requirements.
Q. Can CTEP funds be used for road construction activities which are primarily for motorized vehicle use?
A. Generally, no. Local, state, or federal funding is better suited for this type of work.
Local Match Issues
Q. In general, what can be used to match federal CTEP dollars?
A. Cash and right-of-way (property) by deed or easement. Cash must be from non-federal sources. Right-of-way or easements must be donated by private entities into public ownership or purchased from private entities with non-federal funds and placed in public ownership by deed or a public easement. Federal lands donated to local governments are not eligible for matching purposes. If a property is already in public ownership, it is not eligible for matching purposes.
Q. Who is responsible for providing the required local match?
A. A city, county or tribal government must provide the local match. Where the match money is obtained is at their discretion, as long as it’s within the limits of all federal, state and local laws and policies.
Q. What is the required local matching share ratio for CTEP funds?
A. Approximately 13.4 percent for all enhancement type projects. The ratio varies slightly from year to year. (Your ratio will depend on what the current ratio is at the time your project is actually programmed for federal funding.)
Q. Can donated labor, equipment, materials, etc. be used toward the match?
A. In some instances, city, county and tribal governments may use "soft" funds as local matching funds. Donated land, materials, and equipment may be used as soft match, as long as they meet project specifications. Generally, donated labor will not be accepted as local match. Local governments should indicate their intent to use soft funds in the project application. MDT must concur with the estimated value of the soft funds, based on fair market evaluations.
Q. Can the state gas tax allocated to all counties and incorporated cities be used as a local match?
A. State law might not allow the use of state gas tax as a match. There may be exceptions and it’s the local government’s responsibility to determine if they apply. We suggest local governments obtain an opinion from their city or county attorney.
Q. Can other state funds be used to match CTEP funds?
A. That is at the discretion of the state agency which administers the funds. It’s the local government’s responsibility to check with the administering agency. We suggest local governments also obtain an opinion from their city or county attorney.
Q. Other than cash, right-of-way, or "soft" funds, is there any other way in which CTEP funds could be matched?
A. A local government or private entity could pay for the preliminary engineering and/or construction engineering with their own funds and use that toward meeting the construction match. Because of the complexity of the related administrative issues, we strongly discourage this approach. In the end, there would likely be no cash savings to the local government.
Q. Can funds from other federal programs or agencies be used to match CTEP funds?
A. Generally no. Other federal funds proposed for use as match must be approved on a case by case basis. Federal Recreational Trails funds can be used as matching funds for CTEP projects.
Q. If right-of-way by deed or easement is used toward meeting the local match, what items need to be considered?
A. First, right-of-way by deed or easements acquired through donations or purchases (with local funds) must not be taken into public ownership before being authorized in writing by MDT. To do so might render it ineligible for meeting the match or even using it as part of the federal-aid project. Further, all right-of-way activity must conform with federal and state acquisition procedures. Rights-of-way currently in public ownership are not eligible for matching purposes.
Q. Can a community "overmatch" a project?
A. Yes, a community can contribute more than the required match (13.4 percent). But keep in mind that matching funds will also be needed for project development costs—right-of-way acquisition, environmental clearances, design and other preliminary engineering—as well as construction costs.
Q. When is the local match required?
A. The local matching funds need to be available before work begins on your project (whether it is for preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction, etc.).
Q. Can CTEP funds be used on private property?
A. Only in very rare circumstances. MDT and FHWA strongly discourage use of these public tax dollars on private property. In almost all cases, the answer would be "no." If you are considering this, we strongly advise you to contact MDT for an eligibility determination before preparing your proposal.
Q. Can a local government acquire right-of-way by deed or easement with its own funds for a project that will be constructed with CTEP funds?
A. Yes, but you must follow the federal-aid "Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act" as amended. Contact us for more information, since failure to follow provisions of the act may jeopardize the use of CTEP funds for constructing your project.
Q. Can CTEP funds be used to buy maintenance equipment?
Q. Who must maintain a CTEP project once it’s built?
A. The appropriate city, county or tribal government is responsible for maintaining the project. A local government may enter into an agreement with another entity to maintain the project, but the city, county or tribal government is ultimately responsible for maintenance. MDT will not assume maintenance of CTEP projects.
Q. How long must a local government maintain a CTEP project?
A. For projects located on the Interstate or National Highway Systems (i.e., certain primary highways), the federal government requires the project be maintained in the same condition as when it was built for as long as it remains on the system. Projects located elsewhere will need to be maintained in accordance with MDT policies and procedures.
Q. How will a local government know what the conditions of maintenance are?
A. You must assure that you will maintain (or cause to be maintained) your project when you submit your project application. The project specific agreement (PSA) will contain terms for maintenance of the project.
Q. What kinds of work may the local government do themselves?
A. The local governments are responsible for all phases of the project development and implementation including (but not limited to) design, right-of-way acquisition, any necessary environmental or historical clearances, contract letting, construction engineering and contract development and administration. The local government must assure that federal and state laws and regulations are followed. No activity you expect to be funded with CTEP funds should be started without prior written approval to proceed from MDT—this is so eligibility for federal funds can be maintained.
Q. Can a CTEP project be included with an MDT highway project?
A. In some cases, yes. When reviewing your proposal, MDT staff will check to see if your project is near a planned highway project. If it is, MDT will determine whether it would be beneficial to include your CTEP project. You will be contacted and provided related details.
Q. Why does a project have to be let to contract through a competitive bid process; i.e., why can’t a local government just hire a local contractor?
A. MDT recognizes local governments would like to keep CTEP money in their communities. However, CTEP funds are federal tax dollars. As such, federal, as well as state laws, require a very strict competitive bidding process so that all contractors, regardless of their home base location, receive a fair chance for bidding on the contract.
Q. If the city or county cannot conduct project development activities such as design, construction engineering, contract letting, etc., can it hire a consultant to do those activities for them?
A. Yes, if you have the capability to administer a consultant contract. If you intend to pay the consultant with CTEP funds, you must hire the consultant through MDT consultant selection procedures and in accordance with state law.
Q. How will the bills be paid for CTEP project work?
A. That may vary from project to project. But generally speaking, any funding transactions will be handled directly between MDT and the city, county or tribal government. The CTEP is a cost reimbursement program, i.e. payments will only be made on a progress basis for satisfactorily-completed work.
Q. Can non-city, county or tribal employees conduct project development activities?
A. Yes, but they can’t be paid with CTEP funds unless they are hired through MDT consultant selection procedures.
Q. Under what circumstances does a project have to be let by competitive bidding?
A. Always, if the project is over $50,000. If the project is less than $50,000, the local government may conduct a limited solicitation without advertising for bids, but the local government should try to get at least three bids from qualified contractors. For construction projects or procurements less than $5,000, the local government may negotiate directly with contractors or suppliers.
Q. Are there any requirements for meeting the needs of the handicapped, etc. on CTEP projects?
A. Yes. Projects must conform with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Q. What if the actual final cost of a project exceeds the original estimates in the CTEP project proposal?
A. You may wait for future allocations of CTEP funds to make up the difference or you may contribute more of your own funds toward the project. In no case can you use more CTEP funds than you currently have available to you. A local government could reduce the scope of work, or as a last resort, drop the project. Each community should plan for the possibility that more CTEP funds and local matching funds are required than were originally anticipated. If the project estimates are exceeded, the local governments will be responsible for the extra matching funds.
Q. Can two or more communities pool their CTEP funds?
A. Yes. Two or more cities and/or counties and/or tribal governments, regardless of whether or not they are adjacent to each other, may pool their CTEP funds to a common project.
Q. When a local government does the work on a CTEP project (engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction, etc.), when can they begin?
A. Never before receiving written authorization from MDT for each phase (i.e. design, right-of-way acquisition, construction, contract letting, etc.). Any work done prior to written MDT approval is ineligible for federal funding.
Q. Can CTEP funds be used for planning, or to design a project even though it is possible it may never be built?
A. No. If CTEP funds are used for planning, or to design a project or to buy rights-of-way by deed or easements, the project must come to fruition. If the project is planned or designed with CTEP funds, but not built, the federal government may require the local government to repay the CTEP funds.
Q. How detailed must project plans be?
A. If the total project is less than $50,000, it may be possible to get by without a detailed set of plans and specifications. If the project will cost more than $50,000, it must be let to contract through an approved competitive bid process. Detailed plans and specifications will then need to be developed.
Q. When are the yearly CTEP allocations made to cities and counties?
A. Upon Congressional action, and can vary greatly from year to year. Generally, CTEP tries to notify local governments of their yearly funding allocation between March and May of each year.
Q. Should a community assume there will be project development costs for their project, such as design, historical and environmental clearances, construction engineering, contract administration, etc.?
A. Yes, even if the project is simple or if most or all of the project development is complete, there may be at least modest costs associated with these activities. Your CTEP account may be charged for these activities and you will be required to provide the matching funds.
Q. When do federal-aid prevailing wage rates apply?
A. The Davis-Bacon Act requires federal prevailing wage rates be paid for any public works contract greater than $2,000 if the project contacts a state or federally maintained right-of-way. Projects exceeding $25,000 that do not contact state or federal right-of way are subject to state prevailing wage rates (little Davis-Bacon). Projects less than $25,000 that do not contact a state or federal right-of-way are subject to current minimum wage rates.