The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has adopted a set of proposed changes to the SMART SCALE program to the for consideration and approval in advance of Round 3, which opens in March, 2018. During “Round 2” of SMART SCALE FY-2017, only about $1 billion was available to fund about $9 billion worth of projects. Following the first two rounds of the program, State DOT staff has been evaluating ways in which the program may be improved.

State DOT staff recommended a limit on the number of projects for which a government entity may apply in any given round. Specifically, a limit of 4 applications for localities with a population less than 200,000, with allowance for 1 additional application per district that the local CTB member may allocate to Smart Scale-ineligible towns within a jurisdiction that has maxed out its application limit. Localities with a population of more than 200,000 will have 10 applications. For MPOs/PDCs/Transit Agencies, there is a limit of 4 applications for regions with a population less than 500,000, and 10 applications for a region with a population larger than 500,000.

Other Adopted Changes

Biennial schedule and deadlines
  • March 1, 2018 application intake beginning
  • June 1, 2018 deadlines for creation of an application
  • August 1, 2018 submission deadline

A visual roadmap explaining parts of the Smart Scale program, from 2018 to 2019.

Project Readiness and Eligibility

Formalize and strengthen policy on required level of project planning:

  • For a new interchange on limited access facility, an Interchange Justification report (IJR) with preferred alternative must be completed.
  • For grade separation of an at-grade intersection, at-grade improvement options have been assessed
  • For a new signal, signal warrants have been met and signal justified
  • For a major widening, corridor optimization and alternatives to new lanes have been evaluated
  • The application must demonstrate that a project has public support and requires a resolution of support from the governing body

If the project scope is mostly the repair or replacement of existing assets (State of Good Repair), then it is not eligible for SMART SCALE. Examples of ineligible projects include:

  • Signal system replacement (mast arms, signal heads)
  • Bridge replacement with wider lane widths and/or pedestrian accommodations
Scoring Changes

For more information on the way projects are scored see the latest technical guide as of August 2017.


  • Remove DUI crashes and use blended rate for fatal and severe injury crashes

Congestion Analysis

  • Person Throughput and Person Hours of Delay will now use existing year traffic volumes only, not future year estimated volumes.
  • Applicants have the ability to provide future year volumes for CTB members to take into consideration in project selection even though the congestion scoring would reflect current day volumes.  Applications in Round 3 will include a general comment section, which can be used for such additional documentation or points of consideration from the applicant.

Economic Development – ED.1 – Site Development

  • Zoned properties must get primary access from project
  • Remove 0.5 points for consistent with local and regional plans – project specifically referenced in local comp plan or regional economic development strategy = 0.5 points
  • Project within economically distressed area up to 0.5 points
  • Reduce buffer to max of 3 miles
  • Conceptual (0.5, 1) vs detailed site plans (2, 4 points) – points based on whether submitted or approved
  • Considering establishment of maximum square footage based on project type and based on current level of development – cannot exceed x% of total current square footage in jurisdiction(s)

Economic Development – ED.2 – Intermodal Access

  • Scale freight tonnage-based measure by the length of the improvement

Land Use

  • More specific definitions of mixed-use development
  • New methodology – Accessibility to key non-work destinations such as grocery, healthcare, education, etc.

A presentation and recordings of the workshops and action meeting are available on the CTB website if you’re interested in hearing the context surrounding these items.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

SMART SCALE is the transportation needs identification and project selection methodology used in the Virginia Statewide Transportation Plan known as VTRANS 2040. For more information on SMART SCALE please click here. For a quick preview of VTRANS 2040 and its components, click here, or click here for more detailed information.