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ME Route 26

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was to improve 5.5 miles of a deficient portion of State Route 26, to address safety and travel conditions and at the same time minimize environmental and community features.



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: Sabbathday Village, New Gloucester and Poland, ME 

Lead Agency: MaineDOT


Phase Completed:
Construction 

Source:
Stamatiadis
, Nikiforos, et. al. Context Sensitive Solutions: Quantification of the Benefits in Transportation. National 2009.

Cooperative Highway Research Program – Report 642.

CSS Qualities


Project Team (make up)
Maine DOT assembled at the outset of the project a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, planners, scientists, and public involvement specialists from different firms to work on the project. Within MaineDOT, a multi-disciplinary team was formed and a team-based approach used throughout project development. This team consisted of representatives of most departments and bureaus within the DOT, including planning, design, right-of-way (ROW), construction and maintenance.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
A 13-member Public Advisory Committee (PAC) was also formed consisting of officials from the towns, two regional Council of Government representatives, regional Transportation Advisory Committee, and local citizens, including a member of the Shaker Village community. The PAC was instrumental in assisting MaineDOT in the identification of transportation problems and purpose and needs, establishing and prioritizing project goals, developing and assessing alternatives, the identification of impacts, developing and providing feedback on potential mitigation measures, and serving as a conduit between MaineDOT and the community. The PAC members spoke on behalf of the project at public meetings, answered phone calls and inquiries from their neighbors and constituents, and provided valuable feedback to MaineDOT.

Public I
nvolvement (types, documentation)
The project team invited input not only from members of the public, but also from other diverse stakeholders. MaineDOT formally met with the local leaders (boards of selectmen and councilmen) from each town to discuss the project. There were also many informal meetings and discussions held between MaineDOT and local leaders over the course of the project spanning from planning, project development, through design and construction. The primary communication tools used were large scale features mapping, photo-simulations, and the WWW to aid in distribution of project information and the EA. Photo simulations of the proposed highway alignment in relation to the Shaker Village were generated to assist the Shakers, the PAC, the public and agencies to better visualize how the proposed highway would look from several points within the historic Shaker Village. The EA and Section 4(f) Evaluation were posted on MaineDOT’s website in .pdf to aid in disseminating it and facilitating its public review and comment. This was an important tool in public outreach as many seasonal travelers and out-of-state property owners use Route 26 but could not make a special trip to attend the public hearing or review the EA. As part of the formation of the project’s purpose and needs statement, the PAC and public were asked to identify and prioritize their community goals for the project to help make the project more reflective of the community’s values and vision. The PAC and public identified and prioritized nine goals as part of the Project Purpose, as well as, specified nine project needs. As the project was developed, these goals and needs were periodically revisited to help ensure that the preferred alternative was developed that was reflective of the communities values and vision. At the conclusion of the NEPA process, the community goals that had been developed at the beginning of the project were revisited for the final time; all of the goals had been met by the Preferred Alternative. Individual meetings and communications also occurred with the Towns, the Shaker Community and other stakeholders throughout the design and construction phases. Extensive discussions took place between MaineDOT and the Shaker community with regard to design, the identification of minimization and mitigation measures, and construction issues associated with improvements in the vicinity of the Shaker Village

Design Solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
The development of an alignment that would address the safety issues of the roadway was central to the design challenges to be addressed. The PAC and public participated in the identification of natural, historic, scenic and other resources and values in the study area and helped develop the features mapping of the area during the planning and development phase. The PAC and public participated heavily in the identification of alternatives. Through this process, it was demonstrated that sensitive features were avoided and minimized to the extent possible. Commitments made during the NEPA process were honored during final design and construction.

CSS Concepts by Project Phase

Planning - The use of the PAC and the multidiscipline team were essential in developing solutions, decision-making and communicating them to the public. The project has added lasting value and improved quality of life along those sections of the existing roadway that were bypassed, especially at two key regional attractions where conflicts between pedestrians and high traffic volumes have been eliminated: Sabbathday Lake Beach and Shaker Village.
Planning and Project Development - The quality of life at the Shaker Village, a key regional cultural and community resource has also been enhanced by the project. Safety has been substantially improved within the Shaker Village as the Shakers and visitors to the historic landmark no longer have to cross Route 26 to access developed properties, conduct historical tours and other daily chores. Parking for the Sabbathday Lake Beach was located on the opposite side of Route 26 from the beach. The Preferred Alternative bypassed the beach and provided safe pedestrian access to this facility as well as improved storm water and other water quality issues associated with local aquifers and Sabbathday Lake. The purpose and needs statement was prepared with the assistance of the PAC followed by a request to identify and prioritize community goals for the project in order to make the project more reflective of the community’s values and vision. Nine goals and nine needs were identified and prioritized by the PAC and public; as the project was developed, these goals and needs were periodically revisited to help ensure that the identified preferred alternative was developed reflective of the community’s values and vision.


CSS Principle

Project Team

Use of interdisciplinary teams

3.5

Involve stakeholders

3.7

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.6

Use full range of communication methods

3.2

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.5

Utilize full range of design choices

3.5

Address alternatives and all modes

3.4

Maintain environmental harmony

3.5

Address community & social issues

3.7

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.6

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.6

Document project decisions

3.5

Track and meet all commitments

3.4

Create a lasting value for the community

3.6

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.4


Discussion on CSS Principles


Project team’s Perspective
There were 13 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 principle with the lowest scores was “Use full range of communication methods” (3.2).

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, transportation planners, environmental scientists, and project managers. All were involved in the planning and design phases of the project and one was involved in the construction phase. Approximately one-half of the respondents were new to CSS with 0-3 years of experience, while most of the others had a longer experience (over 6 years). Finally, all respondents had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

As noted above, the only principle with the low score (3.2) indicates that the respondents believe that it was “barely” applied. There were no additional comments provided by the team member that scored this principle with the low score and thus no additional information to clarify the reasons for their low score could be provided. On the contrary, the comments of the other respondents indicated that several methods for communicating with the public and stakeholders were utilized and most respondents believe that they were appropriate in reaching the targeted audience.

On the positive side, there are two principles that the team was in agreement that were highly met. These include the “Involve stakeholders” (3.7) and “Address community and social issues” (3.7). 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


Overall, both stakeholders and team members indicated that almost all 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 community satisfaction” and “increased risk management and liability protection” by the team members and “Improved safety” and “Improved speed management” by the stakeholders. These benefits indicate that the project resulted in a project that the community appreciates.

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”, and “Improved multi-modal options”. These answers indicate that the respondents perceive that the process did not improve budget and time for the project delivery. It was not possible to further examine these pinions, since no data was provided to clarify and support these statements.

An examination of the common benefits scored by both the team members and the stakeholders revealed that for most cases these scores were very similar. Even in cases where the team gave a higher score, these differences were not large and it may be attributed to the fact that there were only six stakeholders that completed the survey.
Therefore, any comparisons could be conducted cautiously.

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

Arnstein C
omparison
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.

CSS Benefit

Measured

Stakeh.

Team

Improved stakeholder/public feedback

NA

3.6

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.4

Increased stakeholder/public participation

3.3

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

3.3

3.6

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.4

3.5

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.8

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.8

Improved predictability of project delivery

3.3

3.1

Improved project scoping

NA

3.1

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.2

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

3.2

3.1

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.0

3.4

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.3

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.3

Minimized overall impact to human environment

3.3

3.3

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.5

3.3

Improved mobility for all users

3.8

3.5

Improved walkability

3.4

3.3

Improved bikeability

3.3

3.4

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.7

3.5

Improved multi-modal options

3.2

2.8

Improved community satisfaction

3.5

3.7

Improved quality of life for community

3.5

3.6

Fit with local government land use plan

3.3

3.4

Improved speed management

3.7

3.3

Design features appropriate to context

3.3

3.4

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.5

Minimized disruption

3.3

3.6

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.7


Discussion on Benefit Values

Overall, both stakeholders and team members indicated that almost all 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 community satisfaction” and “increased risk management and liability protection” by the team members and “Improved safety” and “Improved speed management” by the stakeholders. These benefits indicate that the project resulted in a project that the community appreciates.   

 

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”, and “Improved multi-modal options”. These answers indicate that the respondents perceive that the process did not improve budget and time for the project delivery. It was not possible to further examine these pinions, since no data was provided to clarify and support these statements. An examination of the common benefits scored by both the team members and the stakeholders revealed that for most cases these scores were very similar.  Even in cases where the team gave a higher score, these differences were not large and it may be attributed to the fact that there were only six stakeholders that completed the survey. Therefore, any comparisons could be conducted cautiously.

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

3.5

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

NA

3.4

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).


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. The differences noted between the team and stakeholders were small. Both groups showed a good level of satisfaction working with each other.

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 reasonable satisfaction, while most stakeholders showed a stronger agreement. The comments provided by both team members and stakeholders indicate that appropriate means for soliciting input were utilized.

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

3.2

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.3

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.1

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 similar perspective. The team members indicated that they viewed that relationship between more of a consultation, while the stakeholders viewed it more as providing direction in the process. The difference noted here is opposite to what one may expect where team members tend to view things slightly different and more optimistic than the stakeholders.

Overall L
evel of Success
This is a project demonstrating the successful use of CSS processes to complete a project that was stopped several times in the past. The use of a PAC was instrumental in developing a solution that was agreeable to stakeholders and community and resulted in a timely completion of the project. The process has also helped MaineDOT to improve its trust by the public for other projects.

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.

 

rinciples




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