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Mon/Fayette Expressway, PA

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project is to provide safe, efficient transportation improvements that will complement the regional transportation network, enhance the accessibility to both social services and industrial development sites located along the Monongahela River Valley, and to relieve traffic on the congested local roadways in southeastern and eastern Allegheny County.

The Final Design phase involves the refinement of the Selected Alternative, the development of a Right-of-Way (ROW) Plan, ROW acquisition, and preparation of detailed Plans, Specifications and Estimates (PS&E) that ultimately will be used to construct the Expressway. To facilitate this process, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) has divided the proposed 24-mile Expressway into 13 design sections to ensure the proper engineering expertise is available for the various components of the Expressway. Each design section has its own consultant team to address the design challenges and specific circumstances of the communities in that area.



Mon-Fayette Expressway.jpg: Project Area Map
Project Area Map

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: Allegheny County, PA

Lead Agency: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Contact Person: Frank Kempf, Assistant Chief Engineer - Design

Phase completed: Currently in Final Design

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
The project team includes a diverse range of experts including highway engineers, environmental, cultural and resource professionals, public involvement specialists, landscape and urban designers, and right-of-way and construction specialists.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
During the final design phase of the project, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission anticipated the formation of five Design Advisory Teams (DATs), one in each of the most densely populated communities within the Mon/Fayette PA Route 51 to I-376 project area. Seven of the thirteen design sections include DATs. The DAT communities include Dravosburg, Turtle Creek, Braddock/Rankin/Swissvale (includes two design sections), Nine Mile Run and Glenwood to Bates Street (includes two design sections).

The Design Advisory Teams (DATs) were formed to ensure that final design is compatible with the communities’ goals and plans. Each DAT is composed of 15 to 20 community stakeholders (residents, local government officials, agency and special interest representatives and economic development professionals), and five to six technical team representatives (highway engineers, environmental, cultural and resource professionals, public involvement specialists, landscape and urban designers, and right-of-way and construction specialists).

Issues resolved through DAT consensus are thoroughly documented in decision chronicles that become the public record of how the DAT resolved an issue. A comprehensive list of design issues was defined by the Environmental Impact Statement and revised with additions by the Design Advisory Teams. DATs meet approximately once per month to deliberate and decide on design issues. In addition, special committee or individual meetings may occur to address special efforts, issues or concerns.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission retained an independent group (Olszak Management Consulting, Inc.- Olszak) to act as neutral facilitators. The role of this group is provide facilitation, coordination and oversight of the entire DAT process and to evaluate its results.

Public involvement (types, documentation)
In accepting their role as a DAT member, individuals agreed to represent and exchange information with their constituents. This information exchange occurs in a number of ways including

  • Hosting DAT meetings that are open to the public. (Note: Three DAT’s chose to host open DAT meetings. One DAT chose to host open DAT meetings every other month. One DAT chose not to host open meetings due to their community’s history with disruptive community members.)
  • Hosting a toll free number (at Olszak’s offices) and posting information (DAT member contact information, meeting times and locations, meeting summaries and DAT progress) on the public side of the DAT website
  • Submitting press releases to local newspapers that summarizes the DAT’s progress,
  • Hosting periodic public events at municipal meetings, festivals, and local venues in order to showcase DAT decisions and progress,
  • Creating opportunities for exchange through members’ formal and informal networks
  • Participating in speaking engagements with various groups such as special interest groups, government officials, and local business groups. Public involvement activities are tracked and documented by Olszak.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
The number of identified issues, per DAT, ranges from 18-46. These issues include major design issues relating to the footprint of the expressway, the configuration of interchanges, the height of bridges, storm water management issues, noise issues and pedestrian issues to name a few. Balancing stakeholder agendas is challenging, particularly in the very urbanized area of the project. Final design is not yet complete. Multiple renderings of design options have been routinely employed to examine major design issues such as initial profile options, road and bridge elevations, bridge deck superstructures, community cohesiveness enhancement, recreation and opportunities and optional pier placement scenarios. In addition, each DAT is considering ancillary community development opportunities (economic and community development and revitalization) that can be facilitated through design. The DAT, in turn, engages a multitude of additional community stakeholders in further pursuing these opportunities.

CSS concepts by project phase
As a project that embodies a holistic approach to highway design, the Mon-Fayette Expressway DAT process places a strong emphasis on CSS principles including interdisciplinary teams and stakeholder involvement. The application of CSS principles is being evaluated through strategically built-in elements which provide opportunities to document measurable processes and outcomes. The research framework utilizes nine project-level performance measures and also includes a second set of standards derived from a report issued by the TRB’s Committee for Public Involvement in Transportation (CPIT). Evaluation data related to these standards will be compiled as a more specific and complete component of the CSS “Public Engagement” (No. 2) performance measure. Ten CPIT measures, referred to as Indicators of Success, will be applied to the DAT process. They are as follows:

  • Diversity of views represented
  • Opportunities for Participation
  • Integration of Concerns
  • Information Exchange
  • Project Efficiency
  • Project/Decision Acceptability
  • Mutual Learning
  • Mutual Respect
  • Cost Avoidance

Lessons learned
The Final Design process and evaluation of the Design Advisory Team process is not yet complete. It is anticipated that a preliminary assessment of the process and outcomes evaluation will be complete by mid 2007.

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

3.6

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.7

Use full range of communication methods

3.5

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.2

Utilize full range of design choices

3.4

Address alternatives and all modes

3.4

Maintain environmental harmony

3.2

Address community & social issues

3.6

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.4

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.7

Document project decisions

3.7

Track and meet all commitments

3.4

Create a lasting value for the community

3.4

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.1

Discussion on CSS Principles

Project team’s perspective
There were 32 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 “Use all resources effectively” (3.1), “Achieve consensus on purpose and need” (3.2) and “Maintain environmental harmony” (3.2).

The project included an interdisciplinary team that covered all anticipated (required) areas and it seemed to have exceptionally well. The responses received came from team members who identified themselves as transportation planners, design engineers, structural engineers, public relations specialists, construction engineers, environmental scientists, historic preservation specialists, safety engineers, program managers, and project managers. All were involved in the design phase of the project and approximately half of the respondents were involved in project planning. The project is going to construction soon, so no other phases were involved. Approximately one-half of the respondents had long experience with CSS (over 6 years) while the remaining were evenly split between those with little experience (0-3 years) and some experience (3-6 years). Finally, all team members had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

As noted above, there were three principles that had a low score (3.1 and 3.2) 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 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 “Seek broad-based public involvement” (3.7), “Consider a safe facility for all users” (3.7) and “Document project decisions” (3.7). This strong agreement was also highlighted in several of the comments provided. In particular, the public involvement and input sought 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

2.9

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public trust

2.8

3.4

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.3

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.3

Improved predictability of project delivery

2.0

2.5

Improved project scoping

NA

2.7

Improved project budgeting

NA

2.5

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

2.4

2.7

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

2.7

3.3

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.1

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.2

Minimized overall impact to human environment

2.6

3.2

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

2.6

3.2

Improved mobility for all users

2.7

3.4

Improved walkability

2.2

3.3

Improved bikeability

2.4

3.2

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

2.4

3.4

Improved multi-modal options

2.4

3.0

Improved community satisfaction

2.5

3.2

Improved quality of life for community

2.3

3.1

Fit with local government land use plan

2.6

3.0

Improved speed management

2.5

3.1

Design features appropriate to context

2.5

3.3

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.2

Minimized disruption

2.5

2.9

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

2.9

Discussion on Benefit Values

Project team’s perspective
There were 32 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 “Use all resources effectively” (3.1), “Achieve consensus on purpose and need” (3.2) and “Maintain environmental harmony” (3.2).

The project included an interdisciplinary team that covered all anticipated (required) areas and it seemed to have exceptionally well. The responses received came from team members who identified themselves as transportation planners, design engineers, structural engineers, public relations specialists, construction engineers, environmental scientists, historic preservation specialists, safety engineers, program managers, and project managers. All were involved in the design phase of the project and approximately half of the respondents were involved in project planning. The project is going to construction soon, so no other phases were involved. Approximately one-half of the respondents had long experience with CSS (over 6 years) while the remaining were evenly split between those with little experience (0-3 years) and some experience (3-6 years). Finally, all team members had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

As noted above, there were three principles that had a low score (3.1 and 3.2) 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 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 “Seek broad-based public involvement” (3.7), “Consider a safe facility for all users” (3.7) and “Document project decisions” (3.7). This strong agreement was also highlighted in several of the comments provided. In particular, the public involvement and input sought was discussed by several members and was noted as a significant lesson-learned from the process followed.

CSS Benefit

Metrics

Increased stakeholder/public participation

Several meetings well documented with records of attendance and issues discussed as well as follow up actions

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

 

Decreased time for overall project delivery

 

Improved predictability of project delivery

 

Improved project scoping

 

Improved project budgeting

 

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

 

Improved environmental stewardship

 

Minimized overall impact to human environment

 

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

 

Improved mobility for all users

 

Improved walkability

 

Improved bikeability

 

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

 

Improved multi-modal options

 

Improved speed management

 

Optimized maintenance and operations

 

Minimized disruption

 

Increased risk management and liability protection

 


The data supports the semi-quantitative results noted in the public involvement and stakeholder participation processes. The data indicates that the high scores for these benefits noted are indeed true. As noted above, the project is still in the preliminary design and as such no other data on benefits was available.


Arnstein Questions Part 1

Stakeh.

Team

I am satisfied with the relationship we had with project team

3.3

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

3.4

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

3.2

3.4

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 Comparison
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 small 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 stakeholders had a smaller number of participants noting strong agreement, while there were a few that disagreed. The comments provided noted that there was no clear indication of how their input was used or valued.


Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

2.6

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.9

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.3

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 more a consultation relationship. An interesting aspect of this scoring is the lower score that the relationship between team and public received, indicating a different level of relationship and interaction than the one between the team and stakeholders. 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 nine team members that viewed their relationship with stakeholders as letting them provide direction. Likewise, there were eight stakeholders that noted that they were allowed to provide direction, indicating that both stakeholders and team members share similar experiences.

Overall Level of Success

This phase of the project is a successful use of CSS processes. A significantly large number of stakeholders and team members have been involved in the process. A large effort has been devoted in identifying and documenting project commitments.



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