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SR 179 Reconstruction

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was to reconstruct SR 179 in the Sedona, AZ area to improve safety and mobility while preserving the scenic, aesthetic, historic, environmental and community values.



SR 179 Reconstruction: One of eight roundabouts constructed (or to be constructed) on SR 179.
One of eight roundabouts constructed (or to be constructed) on SR 179.

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: Sedona, Coconino Counties, Arizona

Lead Agency: Arizona DOT (ADOT)

Contact Person: Jennifer Livingston Toth, DMJM Harris Consultants

Phase Completed: Design/PS&E – Construction is nearly complete on Phase 1 (of 2 Phases)

Purpose and Need: The purpose of this project was to reconstruct SR 179 in the Sedona, AZ area to improve safety and mobility while preserving the scenic, aesthetic, historic, environmental and community values.

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 ADOT staff included officials from various agency divisions including, planning, environmental, design and construction. The Arizona DOT established three teams: 1) a Public Outreach Team (ADOT officials, stakeholder representatives and public involvement consultants working as part of the Project Team), 2) a Project Team (ADOT officials and planning & design consultants) and 3) an Executive Team (ADOT officials charged with overall planning & design oversight along with participants/ representatives from the public and 6 other stakeholder groups). In addition to these, four design advisory panels were created to provide input to Segment Concept Design. These panels included ADOT staff and consultants along with selected stakeholders for each project segment. Arizona DOT also provided speakers to address stakeholders and the public about transportation issues that impacted project decision making.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction).
In addition to the Arizona DOT and FHWA, the stakeholder groups included the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council, Yavapai County, Coconino National Forest, City of Sedona and Coconino County. Those stakeholders worked cooperatively with the Arizona DOT on Executive, Public Outreach and Project Management Teams and on the Segment Concept Design panels. As a consequence there was close cooperation and involvement with Arizona DOT in the early phases of project development. Stakeholder initiatives including grants were an outgrowth of this interaction/cooperation.|

Public involvement (types, documentation)
A wide variety of communication methods have used in all phases of the project to interface with the general public through construction. Those included: community interviews, charrettes, focus group meetings, information booths, educational forums, informal meetings, newsletters, news releases to public media, a website, a safety inspection vehicle (during construction), a telephone hotline and a project office staffed by ADOT personnel that was available to the public.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
The stakeholders and public input indicated the need to stress preservation on this project while providing a safer road that minimized congestion problems. A divided two-lane road was employed with roundabouts and separate left turn lanes at full median openings. Shoulders are provided for breakdowns. A raised median is provided that limits access at driveways. The project footprint is minimized to prevent intrusion into scenic areas adjacent to the roadway. Multi-modal accommodation was included for pedestrians (full-length sidewalks), bikers (road shoulders) and buses (transit stops).

CSS concepts by project phase
A multidisciplinary process was employed throughout project development. It included extensive and iterative public/stakeholder feedback on Arizona DOT proposals to shape the preferred alternative. This approach was continued in both project design and construction.

Lessons Learned

Communication - Communication in the early stage of project development (Scoping) was important in establishing/building public trust. ADOT found it worthwhile to repeat public/stakeholder input at meetings to ensure that all facets of that input were fully understood by the Public Outreach Team.

Public and Stakeholder Input - Extensive efforts have been made throughout the project to obtain substantial agreement on the project design. ADOT staff was gratified with level of public input in identifying concerns and the degree of cooperation with other stakeholder agencies. They considered it important to retain some flexibility in developing the project within the agreed upon design. Proper documentation of project decisions was a key factor.

Project Development Process - When the public and stakeholders accepted the ADOT project development process, they became accepting of the decisions that resulted from the process. This was aided by the desire of the impacted communities to have input in project decisions. Oversight by a strong project manager was considered vital to project success. Decisions made by design and construction had to be based on agreements derived during planning.

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

3.7

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.9

Use full range of communication methods

3.9

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.2

Utilize full range of design choices

3.6

Address alternatives and all modes

3.6

Maintain environmental harmony

3.5

Address community & social issues

3.6

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.5

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.6

Document project decisions

3.6

Track and meet all commitments

3.3

Create a lasting value for the community

3.4

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

2.8

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
There were 15 respondents that were considered as team members, including responses of two persons identified as team leaders. The project team indicated that in general all principles were present except “Use all resources effectively (time and budget)” with a score of 2.8.

The project used interdisciplinary agency/stakeholder teams that addressed all anticipated (required) areas and it seemed to have worked well. Team member survey responses were received from team members who identified themselves as planning engineers, design engineers, landscape architects, public relations specialists, safety engineers, environmental scientists, project managers, right of way specialists, forest managers, and elected officials. All were involved in the planning phase of the project and some were involved in project design and construction as well. Two members were involved in all phases of the project. Approximately three-quarters of the respondents were new to CSS with 0-3 years of experience, while a few had a longer experience (over 4 years). Finally, most team members had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

On the issue of using all resources effectively, some team members were concerned about the costs and time requirements for developing the project and several thought the project was expensive and would not provide sufficient mobility in the future.

On the positive side, there are three principles that the team was in agreement that were highly met. These include the “Involve stakeholders” (3.7), “See Broad-based Public Involvement” (3.9) and “Use a Full Range of Communication Tools” (3.9). These ratings were in agreement with some of the Team survey comments. In particular, the involvement of the stakeholders was discussed by several members and was noted as a significant lesson-learned from the process followed. Other principle ratings ranged from 3.2 to 3.6 with 8 being 3.5 or above.

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

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public participation

NA

3.7

Increased stakeholder/public participation

2.8

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

2.6

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public trust

2.4

3.3

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

1.9

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.1

Improved predictability of project delivery

1.7

2.5

Improved project scoping

NA

3.3

Improved project budgeting

NA

2.3

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

3.0

3.4

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.0

3.1

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

2.8

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.2

Minimized overall impact to human environment

2.3

2.8

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

2.8

3.0

Improved mobility for all users

2.5

2.6

Improved walkability

3.2

3.3

Improved bikeability

3.3

3.4

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.0

3.3

Improved multi-modal options

2.7

3.2

Improved community satisfaction

2.4

3.0

Improved quality of life for community

2.5

3.1

Fit with local government land use plan

2.5

3.2

Improved speed management

3.0

2.9

Design features appropriate to context

2.5

3.5

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

2.7

Minimized disruption

1.7

2.7

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

2.8

Discussion on Benefit Values

Semi-Quantitative Benefits

The benefit survey responses were relatively balanced (stakeholders-7; project team-15). The two groups agreed that “Increased opportunities for partnering or shared funding or in-kind resources”, “Improved opportunities for joint use development, “Improved walkability, “Improved bikeability’” and “Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians and bikes)” were benefits obtained in the project. Both groups agreed that benefits related to “Improved predictability of project delivery”, “Minimized overall impact to the human environment”, “Improved mobility for all users” and “Minimized disruption” were not achieved. The project team believed that benefits were realized related to “Increased stakeholder/public participation”, “Increased stakeholder/public ownership”, “Increased stakeholder/public trust”, “Improved project scoping”, “Improved multi-modal options”, “Improved community satisfaction”, “Improved quality of life for community”, “Fit with local government land use plan” and “Design features appropriate to the context”. However, the stakeholders disagreed about those.  The stakeholders thought the project provided “Improved speed management” while the project team was in slight disagreement. The project team believed that the project provided “Improved stakeholder/public feedback”, “Improved stakeholder/public participation” and “Improved environmental stewardship”. They did not believe that it provided “Decreased costs for project delivery”. “Decreased time for project delivery”, Improved predictability of project delivery”, “Improved budgeting”, “Improved sustainable decisions or investments”, “Optimized maintenance and operations” or “Increased risk management and liability projection”.

Due to the pristine environment that was impacted, low stakeholder survey ratings could be anticipated. What is of interest on this project is that it has been successfully programmed and it is proceeding without any attempts to block it by litigation. Some dissatisfaction was noted from the project team as the road that is being built has fewer lanes for through traffic than the preferred alternative addressed in the project FONSI. The project team concurred that the public/stakeholders had been involved in the project development process and that the resulting project incorporated features appropriate to its context.

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

Major project meetings were documented during the project development process.
Public/ stakeholder attendance for most meetings was good ranging
from 200 for the “kick-off” meeting to 988 for the third charrette. 

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

There were numerous agreements and special actions taken
to mitigate environmental impacts.
The project was in an very environmentally sensitive area from many aspects
and only required a FONSI for environmental clearance.

Minimized overall impact to human environment

The 9-mile long project required only 1 personal relocation
and 49 partial takings of personal property.
There were 4 relocations of businesses/public property and 4 relocations. 

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

 

Improved mobility for all users

Nine miles of sidewalk was placed along the project.
Nine miles of bike lanes were incorporated into the shoulders.
Four bus routes were to be implemented.

Improved walkability

See above

Improved bikeability

See above

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

 

Improved multi-modal options

See above

Improved speed management

 

Optimized maintenance and operations

 

Minimized disruption

 

Increased risk management and liability protection

 

Other benefits
As previously noted, this difficult project was enacted without significant public opposition. The project has garnered considerable national acclaim and positive media exposure for AZDOT.

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.

The following Arnstein comparison indicates greater project team satisfaction with the stakeholder/public involvement than the stakeholder group. There is a significant prior confrontational history with this project which may have resulted in the lower stakeholder scores.

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

3.4

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

NA

3.1

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

2.8

3.2

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

2.0

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.7

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.6

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 is a successful application of CSS. Neither the stakeholders nor the project team were totally gratified with the outcome, but both parties had to make significant compromises and in the end the project is proceeding. Whether it will result in the stakeholders’ anticipated level of disruption or the project teams’ concerns for future performance remains to be seen. In all likelihood the project will satisfy both parties and will serve the purpose for which is was intended.



One of eight roundabouts constructed (or to be constructed) on SR 179.     
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