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M Street and Wisconsin Avenue Sidewalk Reconstruction

Project Abstract

Deteriorated utilities and sidewalks in the Georgetown area were contributing to urban decay in a historic area. A cooperative initiative was developed between the District of Columbia and relevant utilities to accelerate improvements in this area and address current problems negatively impacting the community.



M Street Wisconsin Avenue Sidewalk Reconstruction: A cooperative initiative was developed between the District of Columbia and relevant utilities to accelerate improvements in this area and address current problems negatively impacting the community.
A cooperative initiative was developed between the District of Columbia and relevant utilities to accelerate improvements in this area and address current problems negatively impacting the community.

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: Georgetown, DC 

Lead Agency:
District of Columbia DOT 

Contact Person:
Karyn Le Blanc (DDOT) 

Phase completed:
Construction 

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)
District of Columbia DOT (DDOT) officials comprised the project team.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
Several utilities-Pepco, Washington Gas, Verizon, and DDOT to facilitate needed repairs, share common costs and form an Executive Management Committee (EMC) to oversee the project. An Advisory Neighborhood Committee (general public and businesses); and Community Relations Team (representatives of local government, universities, hospitals and the city council) were formed to provide input to the EMC and provide support during the project.


Public involvement (types, documentation)
Meetings have been held with public/stakeholders to plan the work. To minimize disruption signs have been employed along with media announcements and a website. Local law enforcement has been used to manage traffic and towing of cars parked in work zones. A local stakeholder group, the Commission of Fine Arts, conducted review of steps taken by DDOT to rehabilitate the sidewalks. Media releases, signs and a website were used to inform the public about project activities.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
Sidewalk rehabilitation/reconstruction included the use of brick walkways, planting of trees, preservation of existing trees (to the maximum extent possible) and accommodation for disabled persons.

CSS concepts by project phase
The EMC meets weekly to discuss the progress of the work, public comments and local concerns. The project has featured minimum disruption during work. The sidewalks were esthetically enhanced. Public involvement was used to help schedule the work and phasing. A DDOT liaison has attended local community and business meetings to answer questions related to the project. DDOT has sought to provide a rapid response to public concerns.

Lessons learned
The project team believed that public involvement from the start was vital. Involving and partnering with other stakeholders was also a key to the project’s success. Communications was another key factor. The project team met weekly and reviewed public complaints and actions taken to resolve those. This also provided much project support.

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

4.0

Use full range of communication methods

4.0

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

4.0

Utilize full range of design choices

3.3

Address alternatives and all modes

3.7

Maintain environmental harmony

3.0

Address community & social issues

3.7

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.3

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.3

Document project decisions

3.7

Track and meet all commitments

3.3

Create a lasting value for the community

3.7

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.3

Discussion on CSS principles

The project team respondents included a public relations specialist/community liaison, a construction engineer and the project manager. Two of those had over 10 years of project development experience and over 6 years experience with CSS. The project team agreed that all principles were present since all had a score of 3.0 or higher.The lowest ranked of those was “Maintain environmental harmony”.

The principles “Use of interdisciplinary teams”, “Involve stakeholders”, “Seek broad-based public involvement” Use full range of communications methods”, and “Achieve consensus on purpose and need’ were the highest ranked principles with all project team members in strong agreement of their application.

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

3.7

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.7

Increased stakeholder/public participation

4.0

3.7

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

4.0

4.0

Increased stakeholder/public trust

4.0

4.0

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

3.0

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

3.3

Improved predictability of project delivery

4.0

3.7

Improved project scoping

NA

4.0

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.3

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

4.0

3.7

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

4.0

3.3

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.3

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.3

Minimized overall impact to human environment

4.0

3.3

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

4.0

3.3

Improved mobility for all users

4.0

3.7

Improved walkability

4.0

3.7

Improved bikeability

3.0

2.7

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

4.0

3.0

Improved multi-modal options

3.0

2.7

Improved community satisfaction

4.0

4.0

Improved quality of life for community

4.0

3.7

Fit with local government land use plan

3.0

3.3

Improved speed management

3.0

3.0

Design features appropriate to context

4.0

3.7

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.0

Minimized disruption

4.0

3.0

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.0

Discussion on Benefit Values


Semi-Quantitative Benefits
The semi-quantitative benefits analysis was imbalanced (stakeholders-1; project team-3) Where corresponding rankings were provided, the stakeholder generally was in agreement with the project team often providing equivalent or higher rankings.

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

4.0

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

4.0

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

4.0

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).


Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

3.0

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

3.0

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.7


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 exemplifies that CSS can be successfully applied to transportation modes other than roadways. Due to the scope of this project, CSS was vital in facilitating its execution in all phases while maintaining stakeholder/public satisfaction with all facets of the agency’s actions. Partnering with utilities reduced costs, public disruption and prevented the need for subsequent damage to the completed sidewalk for follow-on necessary utility work.



A cooperative initiative was developed between the District of Columbia and relevant utilities to accelerate improvements in this area and address current problems negatively impacting the community.     
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