Prioritization – 6.0

What is Strategic Prioritization

The N.C. Department of Transportation uses a transparent, systematic and data-driven process for prioritizing major transportation in North Carolina and making investment decisions. Projects are evaluated based on their merit through an analysis of the existing and future conditions, the benefits the project is expected to provide, the project’s multi-modal characteristics and how the project fits in with local priorities.

Each of NCDOT’s six modes of transportation (highway, ferry, rail, public transportation, bicycle & pedestrian and aviation) uses a data-drive approach for ranking projects. The outcome of the strategic prioritization process serves as input to the Draft State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which identifies projects that will be funded during a 10-year period.

Prioritization 6.0

The SPOT 6 (or P6) development process began in 2019 and guides the development of the 2023-2032 STIP. NCDOT established an internal workgroup to look at issues related to rising cost estimates as many projects were coming in much higher than initially estimated further impacting the financially constrained STIP. As a result, NCDOT implemented a review of over 450 projects in the STIP to identify more realistic cost impacts. These cost increases will force NCDOT to adjust the future STIP (2024-2033). Federal law requires that the STIP be an accurate reflection of what will be built and it is further limited to actual revenue NCDOT realistically anticipates. As the cost of projects increase, it will decrease the number of projects that can be built or moves projects to a later date when funds are available.

As a result, work on P.6 has halted. The next draft STIP does not have to be prepared and presented until December 2022. This allows NCDOT time to complete project estimates and allow MPOs and RPOs time to work with NCDOT on prioritizing projects for their area in addition to evaluating options for creating the next draft STIP.


Projects receive a percentage of available revenue in the following three categories: Statewide Mobility (40%), Regional Impact (30%), and Division Needs (30%). The Statewide Mobility projects are 100% data driven and selected based on quantitative scores. Regional Impact projects focus on improving connectivity within regions (7). Selection is based on 70% data and 30% local input. Division Needs projects focus on addressing local needs, and selection is based on 50% data and 50% local input. The Jacksonville Urban Area MPO along with NCDOT Divisions 3 will assign local input points to the Regional Impact and Division Needs tier projects based on approved methodology. Projects with the highest scores will have a greater chance of being programmed into the STIP/MTIP.

The State Transportation Improvement (STI) law includes a component known as cascading, where projects not funded in the STatewide Mobility category are eligible for funding in the Regional Impact category. Similarly, projects not funded in the Regional Impact category are eligible for the Division Needs funds. Projects that cascade down are then subject to the scoring criteria and local input for the respective funding category.