Search fhwa.dot.gov

Oyster River Roundabout

Project Abstract

Traffic volume, accident rate and pedestrian concerns required improvement of the intersection.



Oyster River Roundabout: Traffic volume, accident rate and pedestrian concerns required improvement of the intersection.
Traffic volume, accident rate and pedestrian concerns required improvement of the intersection.

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: Route 162 and SR 705, West Haven, Connecticut

Lead Agency: ConnDOT

Contact Person:Arthur Gruhn, Chief Engineer

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)
The project team included: traffic and design engineers, a landscape designer, an environmental coordinator and an illumination designer.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
Project stakeholders included:  the mayor and city staff, community leaders, and area residents and business owners. A major resource agency, the State Department of Environmental Protection, was also involved.

Public involvement (types, documentation)
Informal meetings and public meetings were part of the public involvement program. Photographs, renderings, videos and advanced visualization techniques were all used.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
A signalized intersection was warranted, but the preliminary design presented some unfavorable features. The roundabout design allows the planned traffic volume to be accommodated with less paving needed. This then allowed a sidewalk to be constructed within the existing footprint. The roundabout also has the potential to calm traffic and reduce the potential for fatal crashes -- both were citizen concerns. The roundabout solution also provides the community with a gateway that has added value.

CSS concepts by project phase
Both design and construction phases used CSS.

Lessons learned
Visualization was found to be extremely useful in explaining the project to the public. Building trust with stakeholders/public required – establishing a strong partnership with local officials; holding informational meeting with groups of property owners; and tracking all concerns and explaining our responses. Stakeholders often disagreed with each other and not all could be satisfied. There never seemed to be enough information on the use of roundabouts according to the project team.

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

3.7

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.7

Use full range of communication methods

3.3

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

2.7

Utilize full range of design choices

3.3

Address alternatives and all modes

3.3

Maintain environmental harmony

4.0

Address community & social issues

3.3

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

4.0

Consider a safe facility for users & community

4.0

Document project decisions

3.7

Track and meet all commitments

4.0

Create a lasting value for the community

3.7

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

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).

Discussion on CSS principles


Project team’s perspective
The project team clearly pursued strongly (score of 4.0) several of the CSS principles including: maintaining environmental harmony; aesthetic treatments and enhancements; considering a safe facility for users and community; and tracking and meeting all commitments. In addition, it was clearly agreed that some 10 other principles were applied (scores above 3.0). Somewhat at variance with all the other principles was the score of 2.7 for the achieving consensus on purpose and need. However, the overall opinion of the team was that the principles of CSS were pursued.

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

2.0

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public participation

2.8

3.0

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

2.8

2.0

Increased stakeholder/public trust

2.4

2.3

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.0

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

1.7

Improved predictability of project delivery

2.8

3.0

Improved project scoping

NA

3.0

Improved project budgeting

NA

1.5

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

3.0

2.5

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

2.4

2.0

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

2.0

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

2.5

Minimized overall impact to human environment

2.7

3.0

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.0

3.3

Improved mobility for all users

3.3

3.3

Improved walkability

2.6

3.7

Improved bikeability

2.5

3.0

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

2.8

3.3

Improved multi-modal options

2.3

3.0

Improved community satisfaction

2.2

2.0

Improved quality of life for community

2.7

2.0

Fit with local government land use plan

2.8

3.5

Improved speed management

3.2

3.7

Design features appropriate to context

2.8

3.7

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

2.0

Minimized disruption

2.8

3.3

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

--


Discussion on Benefit Values


Semi-Quantitative Benefits
Several benefits were highly agreed upon by the stakeholders (beyond that perceived by the team) including: Increased stakeholder/public ownership; Increased stakeholder/public trust; Increased opportunities for partnering or shared funding or in-kind resources; and Improved quality of life for community.  There was a positive consensus agreement (3.3) on the achievement of “Improved mobility for all users” by the stakeholders and the project team.  The project team expressed a high level of benefits that included: Improved walkability;  Improved speed management; Design features appropriate to context; and Fit with local government land use plan.  However, the team expressed disagreement that either “Improved project budgeting” or “Decreased time for overall project delivery” was a benefit that was achieved.

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

2.8

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

2.3

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

NA

2.7

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).


It is interesting to note that the first question pair indicates that the stakeholders were a bit more satisfied with their relationship to the project team than the project team was with their relationship with the stakeholders.  The stakeholders were not as satisfied with the procedures that allowed input to project decisions as were the members of the project team. 

 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

1.5

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

1.7

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 responses to the last three questions suggest that the relationship during the project between stakeholders and the project team was viewed primarily as informational relationship that touched upon being viewed as a consultation relationship, but was certainly not viewed as a partnership.

Case Summary

Major principles
The Connecticut Oyster River Roundabout project in West Haven exemplifies the CSS principle – seek broad- based community involvement. The location of this 3-leg roundabout is uniquely sited along Long Island Sound adjacent to a small parking lot serving a public beach and surrounded with single family homes and a small shopping plaza. The planning, design, and construction phases involved the affected home owners and business interests along with the local town officials. The final intersection design (the roundabout option) and incorporation of specific features (e.g. sidewalks) as well as construction phasing (to avoid the busiest summer months) were the direct result of community involvement. Visualization techniques were useful from the vary outset in consideration of the roundabout option. Much of the success of this project is attributed to the early involvement of all interested parties.

The Connecticut Oyster River Roundabout project in West Haven also exemplifies the CSS principle – consider community and social issues. City officials and local leaders of the West Haven community wanted the roundabout to serve as a “gateway” to include landscaping and special lighting. The final alignment was chosen to avoid an endangered species of beach grass with the help of the state’s Department of Environmental protection. Many residents were concerned about high speeds and found the roundabout option as a useful way to provide traffic calming. In addition, the roundabout design did not require additional right-of-way. The original roadway’s overall footprint that included a stop controlled intersection was maintained and the design was able to also accommodate the community requested sidewalk. The new roadway design is seen as maintaining the community’s character while providing specific enhancements that create a lasting value.

Major benefits (semi-quantitative only)
From the stakeholder perspective the top four major benefits were:

  • Improved mobility for all users
  • Improved speed management
  • Minimized overall impact to natural environment (tied with)
  • Increased opportunities for partnering or shared funding or in-kind resources

From the team member perspective the top three major benefits were:  

  • Improved walkability
  • Improved speed management
  • Design features appropriate to context

Lessons learned 
Building trust with stakeholders/public required – establishing a strong partnership with local officials; holding informational meeting with groups of property owners; and tracking all concerns and explaining responses. Visualization was found to be extremely useful.

Overall level of success
for the project is judged to be relatively high. The median expert opinion score of the project team for application of the CSS principles is 3.7 (tending toward strong agreement). The median score of the project team regarding their expert opinion on benefits achieved was 3.0 representing sound agreement. The corresponding median score for a smaller subset of benefits, as perceived by the stakeholders, was only slightly lower at 2.8 (tending toward sound agreement).



Traffic volume, accident rate and pedestrian concerns required improvement of the intersection.     
Info Icon


Related Content:

Feedback, questions, comments, or problems?
email info@contextsensitivesolutions.org

Copyright © 2005 Context Sensitive Solutions.org. All rights reserved.
About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy

United States Department of Transportation - logo
Privacy Policy | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Accessibility | Web Policies & Notices | No Fear Act | Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse | U.S. DOT Home |
USA.gov | WhiteHouse.gov

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000