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Mandela Parkway Corridor Improvement

Project Abstract

Improve the Mandela Parkway.



Mandela-Parkway Corridor Improvement : Improving the Mandela Parkway.
Improving the Mandela Parkway.

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: Oakland, CA

Lead Agency: CALTRANS

Contact Person: Laurie Smith

Phase completed: Construction – In Plant Establishment for 2 more years.

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)
The Office of Landscape Architecture took the lead for this project and the other departments within Caltrans provided functional support – this included Civil, Hydraulics, Traffic, Highway Operations, Electrical, Environmental Engineering, Cultural Resources and Right of Way. Caltrans worked closely with the City of Oakland’s Public Works Agency and the various impacted departments such as Parks and Recreation, Electrical, Traffic, ADA Commission, City Council. Representing the West Oakland neighborhood were three community members called the Landscape Subcommittee of the Community Advisory Board, who regularly attended meetings throughout the design process and still give their input. They are a prominent sculpture artist, a local realtor and a local property owner and longtime community activist. Caltrans also worked with the Oakland Fire department, AC Transit (Bus), the Oakland Housing Authority, the State Office of Historic Preservation, California Highway Patrol, East Bay Municipal Water District, Alameda County Congestion Management Agency and the West Oakland Commerce Association.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
See above for stakeholders. Usually, the meetings were in small groups to gather their input and support and product. There were also larger meetings, such as the regular meetings of the West Oakland Commerce Association.


Public Involvement (types, documentation)
There were numerous public meetings throughout the project initiation and design process to invite input and to show the design solutions.

Design Solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
Caltrans initially wanted to rebuild the freeway in the same alignment following the earthquake and collapse. The community strongly opposed this since the freeway viaduct had effectively divided the West Oakland neighborhood. In response, Caltrans realigned the freeway further west leaving Nelson Mandela Parkway as excess land. Then the process began on determining the development plans for the vacant land. Several ideas arose, including developing the land for housing and buildings, and turning it into a park for art and recreation. The parkway idea with collections of plants was settled on. 

CSS Concepts
West Oakland has the largest collection of intact Victorian houses in North America so the project’s site furnishings, such as light fixtures, benches, drinking fountains and plantings fit in with that era’s style.

Lessons Learned

The results from the project team survey were used to provide a summary of the lesson learned. These are grouped in the following categories:

Communication: Early and continuous communication between Caltrans and City of Oakland resulted in a successful project. This was more important for this project, since it was eventually turned over to the City for maintenance and upkeep. The help provided by the City was viewed both as consulting (they facilitated the landscape subcommittee) and as team members (worked on designs and solutions) resulting in a project that was properly designed for its context.

Public and Stakeholder Input: Early involvement of the public resulted in designs that were more appropriate. Formation of relationships between Caltrans and the public as well as keeping the public informed were viewed as strong aspects of the project. Public interaction allowed for a focused attention to develop solutions. Involvement of stakeholders (the City and all other interested parties) from the earliest stage possible was viewed as a positive aspect of the process that had a positive effect in the development of the final project designs.

Project Development Process: Some members noted that the process may take longer but it resulted in a project that had more satisfied “customers”. More flexible designs were evaluated because the right of way was relinquished to the City. The project delivery schedule is important as to when and what type of CSS may be effective. It was noted that if CSS becomes an afterthought, then the project scope and schedule will still drive the process.

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

3.6

Involve stakeholders

3.8

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.5

Use full range of communication methods

3.4

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.5

Utilize full range of design choices

3.0

Address alternatives and all modes

3.1

Maintain environmental harmony

3.7

Address community & social issues

3.7

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.6

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.9

Document project decisions

3.5

Track and meet all commitments

3.3

Create a lasting value for the community

3.8

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.1

Discussion on CSS Principles


Project team’s perspective
There were 19 respondents that were considered as team members, including the responses of the person identified as the team leader. The project team indicated that in general all principles were present, since all had a score of 3.0 or greater (i.e. agreed that at least the principle was there). The principles with the lowest scores were “Utilize full range of design choices” (3.0), “Address alternatives and all modes” (3.1) and “Use all resources effectively” (3.1).

The project included an interdisciplinary team that covered all anticipated (required) areas and it seemed to have worked well. The responses received came from team members who identified themselves as design engineers, landscape architects, public relations specialists, construction engineers, environmental scientists, maintenance personnel, and project managers. All were involved in the design phase of the project and several were involved in project t planning and construction as well. There were at least two members that were involved in all phases of the project. Approximately one-half of the respondents were new to CSS with 0-3 years of experience, while a few had a longer experience (over 6 years). Finally, most team members had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

As noted above, there were three principles that had a low score (3.0 and 3.1) that indicates that these principles were “barely” applied. A further review of the comments provided by the team members that scored these principles with the low score did not provide any additional information to clarify the reasons for their low score. On the contrary, the meeting minutes show that most of the potential modes (walking, biking, public transit, and driving) were addressed. On the issue of using all resources effectively, no additional insight could be provided, since there were no comments provided by the team members that could clarify this issue.

On the positive side, there are three principles that the team was in agreement that were highly met. These include the “Consider a safe facility for users & community (3.9), “Involve stakeholders” (3.8) and “Create a lasting value for the community” (3.8).  This strong agreement was also highlighted in several of the comments provided. In particular, the involvement of the stakeholders was discussed by several members and was noted as a significant lesson-learned from the process followed.

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

3.4

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.4

Increased stakeholder/public participation

3.0

3.4

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

3.0

3.6

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.0

3.4

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.3

Decreased time for overall project delivery

2.0

2.8

Improved predictability of project delivery

2.5

2.6

Improved project scoping

NA

2.9

Improved project budgeting

NA

2.8

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

2.0

3.0

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.0

3.4

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.3

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.4

Minimized overall impact to human environment

3.0

3.3

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.0

3.3

Improved mobility for all users

3.5

3.5

Improved walkability

3.5

3.9

Improved bikeability

3.5

3.9

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.5

3.7

Improved multi-modal options

3.0

3.4

Improved community satisfaction

3.0

3.8

Improved quality of life for community

4.0

3.8

Improved speed management

--

3.3

Design features appropriate to context

3.5

3.5

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.2

Minimized disruption

3.0

3.1

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.0

Fit with local government land use plan

3.5

3.7

Discussion on Benefit Values


Semi-Quantitative Benefits
Overall, both stakeholders and team members indicated that several benefits materialized as a result of the process followed. Almost all benefits have a score greater than 3.0 indicating that the survey participants at least agree that the benefit was achieved. Benefits that had high scores (equal or greater than 3.7, indicating that most of the participants strongly agree) include “Improved quality of life for community”, “Improved walkability and bikeability”, “Improved community satisfaction”, “Improved safety”, and “Fit with local government land use plan”. These benefits indicate that the project resulted in a better environment for the community and there is an agreement between team members and stakeholders on these issues.

There are a few benefits that had a score below 3.0 that indicate that the respondents believe that the benefit was marginally materialized. These include “Decreased costs for overall project delivery”, “Decreased time for overall project delivery”, “Improved predictability of project delivery”, and “Improved project scoping and budgeting”. These answers indicate that the respondents perceive that the process resulted in longer time and higher costs for the project and had no significant effects on predictability neither of the completion nor in its budgeting and scoping.

An apparent trend of the benefits materialized is the consistent difference between the perspective of the team and the stakeholders, where for all common benefits the team scored them higher. In general, these differences are not large and it may be attributed to the fact that there were only two stakeholders that completed the survey. Therefore, any comparisons could be conducted cautiously.

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

Four public and 12 stakeholder meetings at various project phases; large attendance; significant comments;

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

Estimated $11.5 mil; Actual $13.6 mil (due to bids for project and not cost overruns); no scope or order changes.

Decreased time for overall project delivery

 

Improved predictability of project delivery

 

Improved project scoping

No scope change orders

Improved project budgeting

No change orders

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

City of Oakland developed a memorial area; takes over maintenance after 3 years.

Improved environmental stewardship

 

Minimized overall impact to human environment

No impacts

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

No impacts

Improved mobility for all users

New wider sidewalks, a new bike lane and multi-purpose paths; encourage transit with providing BART connection

Improved walkability

1.3 miles of new sidewalk and multi-purpose path

Improved bikeability

1.3 miles on new bike lanes and connection to Bay Trail

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

NA

Improved multi-modal options

New wider sidewalks, a new bike lane and multi-purpose paths; encourage transit with providing BART connection

Improved speed management

NA

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

Minimized disruption

Scheduled construction 13 months; actual

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA


The data supports the semi-quantitative results noted in the previous table and indicates that the high scores for the various improvements noted are indeed true. However, the available data reputes the perception for those benefits that had the lower scores (below 3.0). There were no change orders and scope changes submitted for the project indicating that the budgeting and scoping of the project was appropriate. Moreover, the time for the completion of the project was altered twice due to need for legislation to approve the budget and the rebidding process due to the fact that received construction bids were approximately $1 million over the estimated project costs—hence the higher project cost. Therefore, the perceived notion of longer time and higher costs is not supported by the available data.

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

3.0

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.6

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

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).

This section evaluates the relative view and perceptions between the stakeholders and the team to determine whether both have the same experience and level of satisfaction. Again the team showed higher levels of satisfaction working with both stakeholders and public. The stakeholders also showed a reasonable level of satisfaction working with the team.

There is a difference of opinion regarding the level of satisfaction between the team and stakeholders regarding the means with which input was included in the project. The team members showed a greater satisfaction with almost an even split between those who agreed and those who strongly agreed. On the other hand, the two stakeholders showed a split choice between agreeing and disagreeing and the comments provided did not allow for any further elaboration on this issue.
 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

2.0

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.6

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.4

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 question on the level of relationship between team and stakeholders showed again a slightly different perspective. The team members indicated that they viewed that relationship between consultation and partnership, while the stakeholders noted that it was a consultation relationship. The difference noted here is similar to what one may expect where team members tend to view things slightly different and more optimistic than the stakeholders. An interesting observation is that there were three team members that viewed this relationship as letting stakeholders to provide direction.

Overall
Level of Success
The project is a successful use of CSS processes. Without the close cooperation of the project team with the City of Oakland the project would not have been completed. The use of extensive public involvement was instrumental in defining appropriate solutions. The cooperation with the City resulted in more flexible designs because the right of way was relinquished to the City.



Improving the Mandela Parkway.     
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