California Department of Transportation

Project Development Workflow Tasks (PDWT)

Part 3 - Identify Project Need and Project Initiation Document

I. Identify Project Need

A. Project Initiation and Planning (100.05.05) - Initiate Project

P02. Identify Project Purpose and Need (150.05.35)

A clear, well-justified purpose and need statement is the foundation of every transportation project. A project’s “need” is an identified transportation deficiency or problem, and its “purpose”: is the set of objectives that will be met to address the transportation deficiency.

A clear, concise, well justified purpose and need statement is critical for identifying a reasonable range of project alternatives. It expedited project delivery and leads to a more precisely defined project cost, scope and schedule. Just as importantly, it explains to the public, stakeholders and decision makers that the expenditures of funds is necessary and worthwhile, and that the project’s priority relative to other transportation projects is warranted.

A purpose and need statement is developed for proposed projects through a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach involving all stakeholders to ensure that the alternatives proposed meet Department goals in harmony with community goals and the natural environment. Developing a purpose and need statement involves outreach to customers, coordination with local and regional planning agencies, early formation of multi-functional project development teams, and retention and transmission of relevant support data. Ultimately, the project’s purpose and need reflects the customer’s needs.

A project’s basic purpose and need must be founded in a transportation deficiency and remain consistent throughout the project delivery process. Supporting data and inputs that are assembled through project approval should be used to refine the solutions to address the problem.

Development of the purpose and need statement require the sponsor of the project to:

  • Depict the source, which identified the transportation deficiency.
  • Gather existing information to quantify the transportation problem


Deputy Directive 83 (March 2004, “Purpose and Need”)

FHWA memorandum, (9/18/90, “Guidance on Developing Purpose and Need Statements”)

PDPM, (Chapters 8, “Overview of Project Development”)

PDPM, (Chapter 9, “Project Initiation:”)

PDPM, (Chapters 10, Section 4, “Identifying Project Alternatives and Mitigations for Impacts”)

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This page last updated July 20, 2010