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Eastern Corridor

Project Abstract

The Eastern Corridor Project was conducted to address the growing needs of the eastern Cincinnati metropolitan area by integrating multi-modal solutions, land use planning and environmental stewardship. Through innovative and collaborative partnerships, 19 political jurisdictions have agreed to pursue a balanced transportation plan that encompasses highway, bus, rail transit, bike, pedestrian and local network projects.



Eastern Corridor: Through innovative and collaborative partnerships, 19 political jurisdictions have agreed to pursue a balanced transportation plan that encompasses highway, bus, rail transit, bike, pedestrian and local network projects
Through innovative and collaborative partnerships, 19 political jurisdictions have agreed to pursue a balanced transportation plan that encompasses highway, bus, rail transit, bike, pedestrian and local network projects

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:  Southwestern, OH

Lead Agency:  Ohio DOT

Contact Person: Diana Martin

 

Phase Completed: Planning

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

CSS Qualities


Project Team
The project team took a holistic approach that included looking at economic forecasting, land use, preliminary engineering, environmental green infrastructure and economic development. By having the project Stakeholder Committee unanimously agree on a common vision for land use, the transportation plan as well as the other disciplinary plans were developed with one common vision in mind.

Stakeholders

The Eastern Corridor project has six funding sponsors that represent 19 separate political jurisdictions in the corridor in a home rule state without enabling/compulsory planning legislation. This project turned used the premise of home rule to empower each jurisdiction to make good decisions for their community. Working together, these separate entities were convinced that their best interests were served when they approached decision-making from a regional perspective that acknowledged interdependencies and a shared future. Private institutions have also been encouraged to provide leadership because one of the guiding principles of the project is that it must be market driven to be financially feasible and fit within development and institutional plans that are critical to its success.

Public Involvement
The large project study area (approximately 70 square miles) meant that a sizeable amount of stakeholders would be involved in the planning and development process. The communication tools included:

  • Public Workshops and Open Houses
  • A Scientific Telephone Survey of stakeholders
  • A Website open for comments and input
  • 30 Stakeholder Committee Meetings
  • A Vision Group that was subdivided by geographical region
  • Approximately 400 small group meetings with local jurisdictions, interest groups, etc.

Design Solution
Through innovative and collaborative partnerships, 19 political jurisdictions have agreed to pursue a balanced transportation plan that encompasses highway, bus, rail transit, bike, pedestrian and local network projects. These decisions were made using economic and transportation analyses that estimate the plan will increase transit use by 5 percent, reduce vehicle miles traveled by 50 million and increase the gross regional product by $23 billion.

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

3.8

Involve stakeholders

3.9

Seek broad-based public involvement

4.0

Use full range of communication methods

3.9

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.6

Utilize full range of design choices

3.9

Address alternatives and all modes

3.9

Maintain environmental harmony

3.5

Address community & social issues

3.6

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.7

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.9

Document project decisions

3.8

Track and meet all commitments

3.4

Create a lasting value for the community

3.4

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

2.8


Project team’s Perspective
Examining the evaluation of the principles involved in the project by the Project Manager and Project Team, it is evident that the public involvement aspects of the project were highly regarded by the project team. All principles associated with outreach including Involve Stakeholders, Seek Broad-based Public Involvement, and Use Full range of Communication methods was rated at either a 3.9 or 4.0 indicating that team members, “Strongly Agreed” that these principles were applied. This project utilized a wide range of avenues to provide information to the public and solicit comments. Activities throughout the project including the use of various groups including a 58 member task force, a vision group, and individual groups to direct activities within various focus groups of the study area. In addition, numerous open houses, community workshops and feedback channels including mail, email, websites, and project hotlines were established. The project also maintained a project office in the study area to provide information to interested parties and developed a speakers bureau to meet provide informational presentations for various interested parties or groups in the study area. A full list of public involvement activities is provided below.

Based on the effort for information and involvement outreach included in this project it is evident that the project team did an extraordinary job of reaching out to stakeholders and general public. This is also evident in the similar evaluation of the stakeholder/public participation, ownership and trust by both the stakeholders and project team as discussed below.

Somewhat surprising in the evaluation is the lower score attributed to “Achieve Consensus on Purpose and Need.” This principle was rated at 3.6 still indicating that the project team either agreed or strongly agreed that the project had achieved consensus. However, the decrease compared to the outreach activities may indicates that achieving a consensus is a much more difficult activity than contacting and identifying the concerns of all involved or impacted.

The project team also rated all design aspects of the project such as maintain environmental harmony, and addressing community and social issues as agree or strongly agree. The only value that was not rated as agree or strongly agree was “Use all resources effectively (Time and Budget).” This may be an indication of budgetary or programming issues experienced by the project which are uncontrollable by the project team. Another potential factor could be that the project went well beyond needed activities providing more effort or certain aspects for a diminishing return in achieving consensus on purpose and need etc.

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

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.6

Increased stakeholder/public participation

3.0

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

3.5

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.5

3.1

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.0

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

1.7

Improved predictability of project delivery

1.0

2.1

Improved project scoping

NA

2.9

Improved project budgeting

NA

2.2

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

3.0

3.1

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.0

3.1

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.3

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.5

Minimized overall impact to human environment

2.0

3.4

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

2.0

3.4

Improved mobility for all users

2.5

3.6

Improved walkability

1.5

3.4

Improved bikeability

2.0

3.4

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

2.0

3.4

Improved multi-modal options

--

3.8

Improved community satisfaction

1.0

3.3

Improved quality of life for community

2.0

3.4

Fit with local government land use plan

2.5

3.6

Improved speed management

3.0

3.0

Design features appropriate to context

2.0

3.4

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.0

Minimized disruption

--

3.0

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.3


Discussion on Benefit Values


Project team’s Perspective
Of all the potential benefits for the project, stakeholders and project team members only agreed on one benefit “Increased stakeholder/public participation ownership and trust”. This benefit is a fundamental benefit of three principles that were applied well as documented by the project team, Involve stakeholders, Use full range of communication methods and Achieve Consensus on Purpose and Need. The extraordinary efforts of the project team in these areas as discussed above are directly attributed to achieving the high level of stakeholder/public participation ownership and trust indicated by the survey.

Project scoping, costs, and delivery (Benefits 6-10) were all rated as disagree or strongly disagree. The only benefit rated by both the project team and the stakeholders was “Improved Predictability of Project Delivery.” While both were rated as negative agreements, the stakeholders all rated the project as strongly disagree. This may be attributed to the low implementation of the principle to “Use all resources effectively,” which was rated disagree by the project team. Decreased costs and time for overall project delivery are fundamental or primary benefits of this principle. However, decreased costs and time, as well as Improved predictability of project delivery are also primary benefits of seeking broad based public involvement. For this case in particular project interruptions may not necessarily be due to opposition from the public, but rather from monetary constraints due to the size and scope of the project.

As the project team rated all principles involving project execution as agree or strongly agree, it is easily understood that they also rated the associated benefits (Benefits 15-27) as strongly agree or disagree. Surprising is the fact that project stakeholders rated each of these benefits as disagree or strongly disagree, except for one “Improved speed management.”  Overall it appears that project stakeholders do not feel that impacts were minimized not mobility improved. With stakeholders rating “Improved Community Satisfaction as “Strongly Disagree.” This is surprising considering the high level of agreement on achieving increased participation, ownership and trust.  While some of the disparity in answers may be attributed to a frustration over limited implementation, it also may identify a disconnect between public involvement activities and incorporating those into the project process, or even indicative of a resulting compromise by all parties where no one wins.

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

2.5

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.4

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

NA

3.3

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

2.5

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).
 

 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

2.5

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.9

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.6

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).

Responses to the relationship between the stakeholders/public and project team all indicate relative agreement in that the relationship was somewhere between a consultation and partnership. This relationship has been identified as the preferred approach to project planning through various research. However, what is surprising is that despite this agreement on the type of relationship, stakeholders appear to be dissatisfied with the relationship while project team members are satisfied. Similarly, stakeholders appear to be somewhat dissatisfied with the methods in place to allow input, though they rated increased participation ownership and trust as being achieved in the study.

Overall Level of Success
The project team took a holistic approach that included looking at economic forecasting, land use, preliminary engineering, environmental green infrastructure and economic development. By having the project Stakeholder Committee unanimously agree on a common vision for land use, the transportation plan as well as the other disciplinary plans were developed with one common vision in mind. Through innovative and collaborative partnerships, 19 political jurisdictions have agreed to pursue a balanced transportation plan that encompasses highway, bus, rail transit, bike, pedestrian and local network projects. These decisions were made using economic and transportation analyses that estimate the plan will increase transit use by 5 percent, reduce vehicle miles traveled by 50 million and increase the gross regional product by $23 billion.



Through innovative and collaborative partnerships, 19 political jurisdictions have agreed to pursue a balanced transportation plan that encompasses highway, bus, rail transit, bike, pedestrian and local network projects     
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