Search fhwa.dot.gov

Berthoud Pass Mountain Access Project - Phases 1 and 2

Project Abstract

The existing facility had a narrow roadway that posed safety issues and mobility issues due to limited passing opportunities on the winding, mountainous road. The existing roadway also posed numerous environmental problems due to: 1) poor aesthetics, 2) water quality and erosion control issues, 3) slope stability issues, 4) wetlands damage, 5) wildlife impacts. Also of concern were the economic impacts to the local communities and ski industry of any reconstruction work.



Berthoud Pass Mountain Access Project - Phases 1 and 2: The existing facility had a narrow roadway that posed safety issues and mobility issues due to limited passing opportunities on the winding, mountainous road.
The existing facility had a narrow roadway that posed safety issues and mobility issues due to limited passing opportunities on the winding, mountainous road.

This is one of 33 case studies included in National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 642 entitled Quantifying the Benefits of Context Sensitive Solutions, published in November 2009. According to the authors, “The objective of this project is to develop a guide for transportation officials and professionals that identifies a comprehensive set of performance measures of CSS principles and quantifies the resulting benefits through all phases of project development”. The report documents a wide range of case studies in which the principles of CSS were applied. Each of these case studies was evaluated to determine the benefits of applying CSS. NCHRP Report 642 is available here.

Location: AR 215 from Cass to Ozark in the Ozark National Forest US Forest Hwy 65), NW Arkansas’ Franklin and Johnson Cos.

Lead Agency: Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department

Contact Person: Claude Klinck, PE

Phase Completed: Construction

Source: Stamatiadis, Nikiforos, et. al. Context Sensitive Solutions: Quantification of the Benefits in Transportation. National Cooperative Highway Research Program – Report 642. 2009.

CSS Qualities


Project Team (make up)

Colorado DOT team incorporated multidisciplinary team-planners, environmental resource specialists, landscape architects, and design engineers; consultants were used for both design and public involvement. The U.S. Forest Service was an active partner in the project team throughout project development. 

 

Stakeholders
Project stakeholders included: U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Corps of Engineers, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Upper Clear Creek Watershed Group, Clear Creek Community and Partners for Access to the Woods.

 

Public involvement 

Meetings were held with impacted communities and stakeholders. Simulations and renderings were employed to provide iterative, collaborative design process. During construction, a public information process was employed including use of a public relations officer assigned to the project and employment of a public relations consultant. Media updates, project displays in public offices and businesses and a project website were also provided to inform the public about the project. Also message boards were used to inform motorists of closures during construction.

 

Design solution

Design considerations included minimizing project footprint, minimizing size/visual impacts of retaining walls, minimizing impacts to forest, and accommodating wildlife.

 

CSS concepts by project phase

Colorado DOT used an iterative, collaborative design process involving the public and stakeholders to provide an acceptable project. Visualization was a key tool used to communicate design proposals/ alternates to the public/stakeholders, especially on retaining wall designs. Consensus decision-making was used throughout the project development process. During construction road closures were limited to provide access to recreational areas.

 

Lessons learned

The project team believed that meeting public expectations for an excellent project that was appropriate for the context of the area was important to the project’s success. They established a good partnership with the stakeholders, listened to their concerns and established mutual respect. This allowed the project team to fully understand the issues. They coupled that knowledge with a proactive environmental stance that “raised the environmental bar” to where the public was very accepting of the project. During construction, the project team used extensive communications to apprise motorists of travel delays related to the project. They also revised work scheduling where possible to limit those delays.

CSS Principles


A fundamental aspect of the NCHRP 642 research effort was the identification of CSS principles. The principles below were developed by a multidisciplinary team and were based on previous work by FHWA and AASHTO participants in the 1998 “Thinking Beyond the Pavement” conference, and others.

For this case study, web-based surveys were developed to solicit the expert opinions of the project team on the level of satisfaction from the application of the CSS principles on the project. The analysis of the scores noted in the survey, and presented in the following table, is based on a 4.0 scale, where 4.0 is Strongly Agree, 3.0 is Agree, 2.0 is Disagree, and 1.0 is Strongly Disagree. Additional information on the data analysis, a summary of the scores for each case study, and general findings (from all case studies) is presented in the NCHRP Report 642, available here.


CSS Principle

Project Team

Use of interdisciplinary teams

4.0

Involve stakeholders 

4.0

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.8

Use full range of communication methods

4.0

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.8

Utilize full range of design choices

3.5

Address alternatives and all modes

3.0

Maintain environmental harmony

4.0

Address community & social issues

3.8

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

4.0

Consider a safe facility for users & community

4.0

Document project decisions

3.8

Track and meet all commitments

3.8

Create a lasting value for the community

4.0

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

4.0

Discussion on CSS principles


Project team’s perspective
The project included an interdisciplinary team (including consultants) that effectively planned and designed the project. The project team respondents were two officials from the CDOT region office including one identified as the project team leader and two consultants. Project team responses were obtained from personnel that worked in planning, design, traffic, environmental, geotechnical, construction and project management areas. They all had over 10 years of experience in developing transportation projects and three had 4 to 6 years experience with CSS (one having 0-3 years related experience).

The project team agreed that all principles were present since all had an average score of 3.0 or greater. The principles with the lowest scores wereAddress all alternatives and modes” and “Utilize a full range of design choices”. In part, these were limited due to the reconstruction and environmental aspects of this project.

The project team responses indicated strong agreement all other principles assigning them scores between 3.8 and 4.0.

CSS Benefits


Surveys were also utilized to ask the project team, as well as external stakeholders in the process, about their perceptions of the benefits derived from a CSS process. As with the surveys regarding CSS Principles, the Benefits were scored on a 4.0 scale, where 4.0 is Strongly Agree, 3.0 is Agree, 2.0 is Disagree, and 1.0 is Strongly Disagree.

 

CSS Benefit

Measured

Stakeh.

Team

Improved stakeholder/public feedback

NA

3.8

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.8

Increased stakeholder/public participation

2.0

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

2.7

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.0

4.0

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.5

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

3.0

Improved predictability of project delivery

3.0

3.8

Improved project scoping

NA

3.8

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.0

Increased opportunities for partnering or shared funding or in-kind resources

2.0

3.5

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

2.0

3.3

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.3

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

4.0

Minimized overall impact to human environment

3.0

3.5

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.0

4.0

Improved mobility for all users

3.7

4.0

Improved walkability

2.0

2.5

Improved bikeability

3.0

3.3

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.5

4.0

Improved multi-modal options

2.0

2.0

Improved community satisfaction

3.0

3.8

Improved quality of life for community

3.0

3.8

Fit with local government land use plan

3.0

3.8

Improved speed management

3.0

3.5

Design features appropriate to context

3.5

4.0

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.8

Minimized disruption

3.0

3.3

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.0

Discussion on Benefit Values


Semi-Quantitative Benefits 
The semi-quantitative benefits analysis had a balanced stakeholder/project team survey response (stakeholders-3; project team-4). The responding stakeholders represented historic, environmental, park and local government perspectives. The stakeholders disagreed with the project team on the CSS benefits related to “Increased stakeholder/public participation”, “Increased stakeholder/public ownership”, “Increased opportunities for partnering or in-kind resources” and “Improved opportunities for joint use and development”. Where joint rankings were obtained on other CSS benefits, both groups were in general agreement though the stakeholder rankings tended to be lower than those of the project team.

Quantitative Benefits 
In addition to the semi-quantitative scores obtained above, the following quantitative metrics were obtained for some of the benefits.

 

CSS Benefit

Metrics

Increased stakeholder/public participation

 

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

 

Decreased time for overall project delivery

 

Improved predictability of project delivery

 

Improved project scoping

 

Improved project budgeting

 

Increased opportunities for partnering or shared funding or in-kind resources

 

Improved environmental stewardship

 

Minimized overall impact to human environment

 

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

The sediment catch basins, paved drains and snow shoulders allowed CDOT to capture about 70 percent of the traction

sand used in winter months. In the past, this material had contaminated

streams, eroded slopes and harmed wetlands.

Improved mobility for all users

 

Improved walkability

 

Improved bikeability

 

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

 

Improved multi-modal options

 

Improved speed management

 

Optimized maintenance and operations

 

Minimized disruption

 

Increased risk management and liability protection

 

 

Other benefits 
This project provided a wide range of significant benefits to communities, the environment and the U.S. Forest Service that is seeking to maintain the character of the area. Improved maintenance and roadway design will both improve CDOT efforts to cope with large snowfalls in the area in an environmentally friendly manner. This project is unique in that it benefits all parties involved.

Arnstein comparison 
The surveys conducted for this case study included a set of questions that could be used to evaluate potential differences in the level of satisfaction between project team members and stakeholders. These differences in satisfaction are known as the Arnstein gap, which is a heuristic metric by which the existing quality deficit of public involvement can be measured. Arnstein developed an eight-step scale (Arnstein’s Ladder) characterizing levels of public involvement in planning, ranging from “Manipulation” of the public (non-participation) to “Citizen Control” of the process. The NCHRP 642 authors adapted this approach to assess the perceptions of stakeholders and the project team.
 

Arnstein Question Part 1

Stakeh.

Team

I am satisfied with the relationship we had with project team

3.3

NA

 I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

4.0

 I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the interested public

NA

3.5

I am satisfied with the procedures and methods that allowed input to project decisions

3.3

3.8

 

Note: The project team and stakeholder scores are based on the survey results of a 4.0 scale (4: strongly agree; 3: agree; 2: disagree; and 1: strongly disagree).

 

 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

  My relationship with the project team was best described as

 

3.3

 

NA

 My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

3.3

 My relationship with the interested public was best described as

 NA

 

 

2.3

Note: The project team and stakeholder rankings are based on the survey results of a 4.0 scale (4: Stakeholders provided direction; 3: Stakeholders partnered with DOT; 2: DOT consulted with stakeholders; and 1: DOT informed stakeholders).

Overall level of success
This project entailed considerable cooperation between CDOT and stakeholders, especially the US Forest Service. Environmental features have protected soil, plants, animals and the water and preserved a historic park area. During construction, CDOT sought to maintain traffic flow (or at least minimize delays). Extensive efforts were made to inform the public of traffic conditions. This project has been awarded five national awards for engineering excellence including the AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence Best Practices for Context Sensitive Solutions Notable Achievements Award (2005).



The existing facility had a narrow roadway that posed safety issues and mobility issues due to limited passing opportunities on the winding, mountainous road.     
Info Icon


Related Content:

Feedback, questions, comments, or problems?
email info@contextsensitivesolutions.org

Copyright © 2005 Context Sensitive Solutions.org. All rights reserved.
About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy

United States Department of Transportation - logo
Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Accessibility | Web Policies & Notices | No Fear Act | Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse | U.S. DOT Home |
USA.gov | WhiteHouse.gov

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000