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Cody-Yellowstone Highway Project, Wyoming

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was to address safety and capacity issues, with improved geometrics. Environmental and cultural enhancements were also included in the project.



Cody Yellowstone Highway: The purpose of this project was to address safety and capacity issues, with improved geometrics. Environmental and cultural enhancements were also included in the project.
The purpose of this project was to address safety and capacity issues, with improved geometrics. Environmental and cultural enhancements were also included in the project.

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: US 14/16/20 Cody to Yellowstone Park Entrance

Lead Agency: Wyoming DOT

Contact Person: Bob Bonds

Phase completed: Construction

Purpose and Need: The purpose of this project was to address safety and capacity issues, with improved geometrics. Environmental and cultural enhancements were also included in the project.

Source: Stamatiadis, Nikiforos, et. al. Guidelines For Quantifying The Benefits Of Context Sensitive Solutions. NCHRP 15-32. April 2009.

CSS Qualities

Project Team (make up)
Members of the Interdisciplinary Team and the Advisory Committee included the U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish, Northwest Resource Council, Park County, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Cody Chamber of Commerce, and others. Facilitation of the Interdisciplinary Team was performed by the NEPA consultant, WYDOT, and FHWA. The Advisory Team was facilitated by WYDOT. The project incorporated the Interdisciplinary Team during the planning, scoping, and NEPA phases, and an Advisory Committee during the design and construction phases.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
The Advisory Committee was involved with identifying specific objectives of each planning circumstance, providing recommendations on how to further reduce impacts during the planning and design phases, making suggestions for alleviating environmental and traffic flow concerns during construction, reviewing recommendations and guidelines related to various design and environmental features, and participating in decisions regarding construction sequencing to minimize disruption to tourist, commuter, and commercial traffic.

Public Involvement (types, documentation)
WYDOT incorporated video imaging early in the design phase of the project to help non-highway personnel and residents visualize the completed project. Several public meetings were held as well as weekly work review sessions during project construction. Daily announcements were made during rock blasting and other road closure operations. The community was kept informed by radio and brochures. The Advisory Committee planned and determined times for road closures during the heavy tourist season. An environmental training video and grizzly bear video were used to inform and educate state, federal, and contractor employees prior to working on the project.

Design Solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
The project involved geometric upgrades for a heavily traveled tourist and recreational corridor, while preserving environmental and aesthetic features. Transportation needs were addressed by adding shoulders, passing lanes, clear zones, turning lanes, replacing bridges and flattening substandard curves allowing for a safer driving experience during heavy tourist seasons.

CSS Concepts
The project included constructing five retaining walls in order to prevent intruding into the North Fork of the Shoshone River, extensive rock cuts and elimination of drill marks, obliterating the existing road, and 27.5 miles of road reconstruction adjacent to grizzly bear habitat. Access to a sensitive cultural resource was improved, data from archeological sites were retrieved, wetlands were reconstructed, four new interpretative centers were constructed, and temporary stream crossings were constructed without disturbing existing channel bottoms. A U.S Forest Service landscape architect was employed, as well as an environmental compliance officer to insure environmental sensitivity.

Lessons Learned
The conservation easement obtained as mitigation for the project helped preserve many acres from future development. Environmental and visual features were enhanced by the project, including rock cuts, re-vegetated slopes, reclaiming old road cut slopes, closing and reclaiming locally pioneered roads, habitat enhancement paid by the WYDOT and implemented by the USFS, river enhancements using rock structures, relocating trailheads away from grizzly bear habitat, and closing a campground in grizzly bear habitat and reclaiming it into wetland.

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

3.3

Use full range of communication methods

3.0

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.3

Utilize full range of design choices

2.7

Address alternatives and all modes

3.0

Maintain environmental harmony

3.3

Address community & social issues

3.3

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.7

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.7

Document project decisions

3.3

Track and meet all commitments

3.3

Create a lasting value for the community

4.0

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.3

Discussion on CSS Principles

Project Team’s Perspective
There were two surveys completed and returned by the project team. These team members were both from the Wyoming DOT. Both respondents gave the highest rating to “Use of interdisciplinary teams”, “Involve stakeholders”, and “Create lasting value for the community”. Also receiving high ratings were “Address aesthetic treatments and enhancements” and “Consider a safe facility for users and community”. These high scores on opinions of agreement with application of principles were consistent with the reconstruction of a major route that was within a national forest and the gateway into Yellowstone National Park. There was clearly a need to include the views and input from an interdisciplinary team and a wide range of stakeholders. The lowest score was for “Utilize full range of design choices”, followed by “Use full range of communication methods” and “Address alternatives and all modes”.

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

3.0

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public participation

3.3

2.3

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

3.5

2.7

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.5

3.0

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.3

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.3

Improved predictability of project delivery

3.7

3.0

Improved project scoping

NA

3.0

Improved project budgeting

NA

2.5

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

3.7

3.0

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.3

3.0

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.0

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.3

Minimized overall impact to human environment

3.7

3.7

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.3

3.3

Improved mobility for all users

3.8

3.7

Improved walkability

3.3

2.7

Improved bikeability

3.0

3.3

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.8

3.0

Improved multi-modal options

3.0

2.0

Improved community satisfaction

3.3

3.0

Improved quality of life for community

3.7

3.0

Fit with local government land use plan

3.0

3.0

Improved speed management

2.3

2.0

Design features appropriate to context

3.0

3.3

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.0

Minimized disruption

3.3

3.0

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.0

Discussion on Benefit Values

Semi-Quantitative Benefits
This project’s objectives were to bring the facility up to current design standards, while preserving the environmentally sensitive features of the valley corridor leading into Yellowstone National Park. There was significant effort made to include a full range of stakeholders to insure proper attention to the environmental and aesthetic features.

Results from the survey of stakeholder and team members indicated a relatively high degree of success when attempting to balance the need for safety improvements with the environmental and aesthetic expectations. There were three responses from stakeholders, in addition to the two project team responses. Opinion scores indicted that the stakeholders and project team were in general agreement on some benefit assessments, while divergent on others.  Benefits with the highest scores and highest level of agreement included “Minimized overall impact to the human environment” and “Improved mobility for all users”.  Scores that were high for stakeholders, but somewhat lower for project team respondents included “benefits related to increased stakeholder/public participation, ownership, and trust. The lowest scores mutual to stakeholders and project team members were for “Improved speed management”.

Quantitative Benefits
There was no additional information provided to the research team to be utilized in the development of quantifiable benefits.

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 Questions Part 1

Stakeh.

Team

I  am satisfied with the relationship we had with project team

3.5

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.3

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

NA

3.0

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

3.5

3.3

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).

The first four questions of the Arnstein comparison section attempt to evaluate the relative view and perceptions of the project team versus the view and perceptions of the stakeholders. There did not appear to be a significant difference between the views of stakeholders in their relationship with the project team (rating of 3.5) as compared to the relationship views of project team members with stakeholders (rating of 3.3). Also, satisfaction levels of the stakeholders and the project team in their perception of procedures and methods that allowed input into project decisions was similar (3.5 for stakeholders and 3.3 for project team members).

 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

2.8

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

1.7

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

1.7

Note: The project team and stakeholder rankings are based on the survey results of a 4.0 scale (4: They allowed us to provide direction; 3: We established a partnership; 2: We established a consultation relationship; and 1: We established an informational relationship). 

The last three questions of the Arnstein comparison were opinions of relationship roles of the stakeholders with project team members and the role of project team members with the stakeholders and the public. There appeared to be a feeling of serving in a combination consultation and participation role when the stakeholders described their relationship with the project team. The project team best described their relationship as that of consultation and information sharing when describing their relationship with stakeholders and the public.

Overall Level of Success
WYDOT incorporated video imaging early in the design phase of the project to help non-highway personnel and residents visualize the completed project. Results from the survey of stakeholder and team members indicated a relatively high degree of success when attempting to balance the need for safety improvements with the environmental and aesthetic expectations for a roadway entering into Yellowstone National Park.



The purpose of this project was to address safety and capacity issues, with improved geometrics. Environmental and cultural enhancements were also included in the project.     
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