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FM 1120 Low Water Crossing, Real County, Texas

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was to replace a low water crossing over the Frio River quickly and with minimum impact on the recreational visitors and the water quality. The crossing was in need of replacement due to a series of floods that had undermined the integrity of the structure.



FM 1120 Low Water Crossing, Real County, Texas: The purpose of this project was to replace a low water crossing over the Frio River quickly and with minimum impact on the recreational visitors and the water quality.
The purpose of this project was to replace a low water crossing over the Frio River quickly and with minimum impact on the recreational visitors and the water quality.

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: Real County, Texas

Lead Agency: Texas DOT

Contact Person: Mary Perez

Phase completed: Construction/Operation

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)
Since timing was important several agencies and entities came together in an extraordinary effort to approve this project quickly. The San Angelo District worked closely with TxDOT’s Environmental Affairs Division, Bridge Division, Junction Area Office, the Leakey Maintenance Office, and the contractor, Earth Builders Inc. The Texas Historical Commission approved the cultural resources permits in a timely manner. The United States Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, expedited necessary permits.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
The District worked closely with the TxDOT’s Environmental Affairs Division relying on the expertise of archeologists and historians who conducted field surveys. The District completed biological surveys and obtained the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the new bridge. All appropriate clearances were approved and all needed permits were put in place in a timely manner.

Public involvement (types, documentation)
The public, including local residents, community leaders and businessmen were fully in favor of the project because of its importance to the local tourist industry.  The District provided open information to the public using public notices and meetings under given guidelines, and responded to their concerns. The local population was in complete agreement with the importance of replacing the crossing in an environmentally sensitive and timely manner and voiced its approval of the project.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
There was no negative impact to downstream areas during construction. Impacts at the site were minimal with only two trees removed instead of the nine from the original, standard plan. The flood damage to the old structure was carefully studied and new design elements were incorporated into the new crossing creating a more efficient, stronger structure. Floods are a recurrent event, so the structure will be monitored as needed for damage.

CSS concepts
A multimedia approach, including photography, computer graphics, on site assessments and text descriptions were used to pre-visualize design solutions. It was of the utmost importance to have a very clear and thorough design to use in the field to avoid negative impacts on a delicate eco-region. Using these visualization techniques assured the creation of an efficient design that met the safety and environmental criteria during construction.

Lessons learned
The biggest disruption was the length of time the road was closed. The San Angelo District shortened the time by expediting the planning and construction. Construction started in October 2002 and was complete by July 2003. Since the majority of the construction was done in the winter months, which is the off season, there was less impact on tourism reducing negative effects on the local economy. There was no negative impact to downstream areas during construction. Impacts at the site were minimal with only two trees removed instead of the nine from the original, standard plan. The flood damage to the old structure was carefully studied and new design elements were incorporated into the new crossing creating a more efficient, stronger structure.

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

3.7

Involve stakeholders

2.7

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.0

Use full range of communication methods

3.0

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

4.0

Utilize full range of design choices

3.7

Address alternatives and all modes

3.0

Maintain environmental harmony

3.7

Address community & social issues

3.7

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.7

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.7

Document project decisions

3.0

Track and meet all commitments

3.3

Create a lasting value for the community

3.3

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.0

Discussion on CSS principles

Project team’s perspective
There were two surveys completed and returned by the project team. These team members were both employees of the Texas DOT. There was relatively high agreement with opinions by all respondents that nearly all of the 15 CSS principles were applied. The only principle with a score less than 3.0 was “Involve stakeholders”. This appears to be related to the fast track of work activities for the project that may have resulted in less intense involvement of stakeholders than could have occurred if there had been more scheduled involvement. Survey results also supported task accomplishment orientation of the project that produced a score of 4.0 for “Achieve consensus on purpose and need”.

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

4.0

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

4.0

Increased stakeholder/public participation

--

3.0

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

--

3.0

Increased stakeholder/public trust

--

3.0

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.0

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

3.0

Improved predictability of project delivery

--

3.3

Improved project scoping

NA

3.3

Improved project budgeting

NA

NA

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

--

3.0

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

--

--

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.0

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.7

Minimized overall impact to human environment

--

3.7

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

--

3.7

Improved mobility for all users

--

3.7

Improved walkability

--

3.0

Improved bikeability

--

3.0

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

--

3.7

Improved multi-modal options

--

1.0

Improved community satisfaction

--

3.3

Improved quality of life for community

--

3.3

Fit with local government land use plan

--

3.3

Improved speed management

--

3.0

Design features appropriate to context

--

3.3

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.5

Minimized disruption

--

3.7

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.0


Discussion on Benefit Values

Semi-Quantitative Benefits
This project was intended to replace a low water crossing over the Frio River quickly and with minimum impact on the recreational visitors and the water quality. The crossing was in need of replacement due to a series of floods that had undermined the integrity of the structure. Time and scheduling were critical to the success of the project, as well as concerns for impacts on the delicate environment in and near the crossing. Appropriate attention was given to the public’s access and use of the associated recreational areas in the vicinity of the crossing. Impacted stakeholders were involved to assure clearances and permits were obtained in a timely manner. However, there were no responses from the stakeholders who received the survey, and only two responses from team members as noted in the previous section. The two responders indicated a high degree of public feedback and participation related to the project. Other benefits resulting from the project as perceived by the project team were minimized impacts to the environment, both natural and human, as well as improved safety, increased mobility, and minimal disruption.

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

--

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.7

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

--

3.7

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. Without stakeholder responses, this comparison was not possible.


Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

--

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.0

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

1.0

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. Without stakeholder responses, this comparison was not possible.

Overall level of success
Since timing was important several agencies and entities came together in an extraordinary effort to approve this project quickly. A multimedia approach, including photography, computer graphics, onsite assessments and text descriptions were used to pre-visualize design solutions. It was of the utmost importance to have a very clear and thorough design to use in the field to avoid negative impacts on a delicate eco-region. Using these visualization techniques assured the creation of an efficient design that met the safety and environmental criteria during construction. The local population was in complete agreement with the importance of replacing the crossing in an environmentally sensitive and timely manner and voiced its approval of the project.



The purpose of this project was to replace a low water crossing over the Frio River quickly and with minimum impact on the recreational visitors and the water quality.     
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