MassDOT Design Exception Reports

You must complete a Design Exception Report to justify any substandard design elements.

Table of Contents

Design exception process

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has established certain controlling criteria under 23 CFR 625, which must be adhered to when designing a roadway project. MassDOT adopted this policy and applies the requirements of 23 CFR 625 to all projects regardless of funding source. In addition, MassDOT established controlling criteria for the accommodation of pedestrians and bicyclists which must also be adhered to on all applicable projects.

Chapter 2 of the Project Development and Design Guide describes the Design Exception Process in detail. Engineering Directives E-14-006 and E-99-002 provide additional guidance regarding the Design Exception Process.


Additional Resources

Design criteria workbook

The Design Criteria Workbook provides designers with a standardized method of identifying and documenting the desirable, minimum and proposed design criteria for each controlling design element, and streamlines MassDOT's design review process. Proposed design criteria that do not meet minimum criteria require documentation and justification in a formal Design Exception Report.

Additional Resources

Design exception report

The cover page of the Design Exception Report must be stamped and signed by a Professional Engineer registered in Massachusetts and in responsible charge of the work, and must contain the following statement:

I have reviewed this document as it relates to the proposed design and have determined the design to be safe for public health and welfare in conformity with accepted engineering standards.

The Design Exception Report should consist of the following:

  • Cover Page, including certification and approval signature
  • Executive Summary
  • Locus Map
  • Detailed Narrative
  • Recommendation
  • Design Criteria Workbook, including Summary of Impact sheets
  • Additional Supporting Information (as necessary):
    • Typical Sections
    • Plan Drawings
    • Photographs
    • Crash Data/Crash Rates
    • Letters, testimonials and other supporting documents