Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Planning, Design, and the Built Environment

Committee Member

Dennis C Bausman

Committee Member

Mashrur Chowdhury

Committee Member

Cliff Ellis

Committee Member

Jason D Lucas


In the United States, federal, state, and local governments are responsible for addressing their residents' transportation infrastructure needs. Similar to most States Department of Transportation (State DOTs), the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is responsible for owning, operating, and maintaining a large transportation system for the state. The SCDOT has the 5th largest highway system in the United States, and like most states, the state of South Carolina’s (SC) transportation system needs have continued to expand. SCDOT is under growing pressure for efficient and effective transportation project delivery to address the need and continued expansion. The pressure is due to high demand, limited funding sources, stakeholders’ concerns, federal and state policies, and intense public involvement. Due to increasing demand and pressure to meet its key strategic goals, SCDOT is taking initiatives to deliver projects as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. One of the efforts undertaken by SCDOT is streamlining its preconstruction Project Development Process (PDP). The PDP is a core function of state DOTs and is strategically crucial for highway projects because it assures adequate selection and planning phases. This research study aims to streamline the SCDOT PDP to enhance, streamline, and improve project delivery by identifying PDP best practices that are applicable for a state DOT comparable to SCDOT’s organizational structure and transportation program from the literature review, delivery partners’ input, and the practices utilized by other state DOTs. An Explanatory Sequential Design is used to meet the research’s goal. Preliminary semi-structured interviews are conducted with SCDOT to identify the agency’s current PDP practices and suggestions for improvement. An administrative questionnaire is utilized to obtain input from state DOTs and SCDOT’s delivery partners to gain insight regarding PDP best practices. Structured interviews with comparable state DOTs are conducted to probe PDP concepts, gain an in-depth understanding of PDP best practices, and identify PDP best practices. The identified PDP Best Practices are assembled based on the data, analysis, and findings supported by five different data sources, National PDP Survey, Comparable State DOTs Interview, Secondary State DOTs Documentation, SCDOT SMEs Interview, and ACEC-SC Survey. The analysis of all data sources is used to assemble twelve (12) PDP Best Practices, which are numbered and categorized into five categories. Finally, this research study provides a ‘Model’ for the methodology used by other State DOTs to systematically assess their current practices and obtain input/suggestions for process improvement from the agency’s own SME’s and their external delivery partners that are providing professional services.



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