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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Case Study: Project Prioritization Process

Case Study Highlights

  • Provides a rational, performance-based process for prioritizing projects for inclusion in the TIP.
  • Applies safety-based criteria in the selection of projects, reflecting the goals of the Regional Transportation Plan.

In a typical year, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) considers more than 300 project proposals eligible for funding in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Given limited resources, NJTPA has developed a prioritization procedure consisting of the following two steps:

  1. Application of Project Prioritization Criteria – During development of the Project Development Work Program, projects are evaluated and scored based on technical measures of how well they fulfill the goals of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Scores are based on Project Prioritization Criteria (see below) and all eligible projects are ranked according to their scores.
  2. Application of Additional Priority Factors – Factors such as the feasibility of project delivery, funding availability, and project timing also are taken into account. This evaluation involves consultation and negotiation among MPO staff, municipal staff and elected officials,, the State DOT, and local transit agencies.

NJTPA's current Regional Transportation Plan is guided by six policy goals, one of which is to “Maintain a safe and reliable transportation system in a state of good repair.” (Note that the RTP is currently going through an update.) It is the stated intent of the RTP to translate these goals into specific actions, programs, and projects. The Project Prioritization Criteria enable NJTPA to select projects based on a system that awards points according to how well the project satisfies RTP goals. Criteria are grouped in accordance with the six goals of the RTP. The maximum number of points a highway and state bridge project can receive based on all selection criteria is 1,000. The maximum number of points that can be awarded within the criterion of Repair/Maintenance/Safety/Security is 286. Within this category, the criterion of “Will the project improve a safety problem?” is worth up to 110 points, which are awarded as follows:

  • High – Safety improvements to roadways or intersections designated by the MPO or state DOT as safety priority locations or included in “Safe Corridor” programs. (110 points)
  • Medium/High – Safety improvements to roadway segments where the severity-weighted accident rate exceeds that of the regionwide average for the same facility type. (83 points)
  • Medium – Improvements to local roadways or pedestrian areas to address safety issues of local concern, e.g., traffic calming projects. (55 points)
  • Low – Drainage, rockfall, and pavement rehabilitation/resurfacing projects. (28 points)

NJTPA staff administers the project prioritization process with participation by implementing agencies, the Regional Transportation Advisory Committee, and the Project Prioritization Committee of NJTPA's Board of Trustees. Project scores resulting from the process are considered during the development of the Capital Construction Program, which is the basis for development of the TIP.


NJTPA applies a project prioritization process to rank projects according to their ability to satisfy the goals of NJTPA's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). With improved transportation safety as one of the six goals of the RTP, the process enables NJTPA to consider safety in the evaluation of projects for inclusion in the TIP.