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State Route 69, Boulder Main Street Rehabilitation

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was to address safety issues and citizens’ needs along route 69. A bridge that would blend with the existing terrain was also part of the project.



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: Boulder MT

Lead Agency: Montana DOT

Contact Person:

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)
A consultant was hired to design the project. Because the street ran through the historic district of Boulder, the consultant included a cultural resource specialist to assist in the research of the buildings in and around the construction area. Traffic engineers addressed the traffic issues and hydraulics specialists assisted us with addressing the drainage issues using the smallest grates which still provided the necessary drainage. Other team members included: electrical engineers to deal with the period lighting; bridge engineers to design an aesthetically pleasing yet structurally sound bridge; utility specialist to assist in locating utilities and modifying designs as appropriate to avoid utilities; and landscape architects and biologists to determine numbers and types of plantings for the area.


Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
The project’s main stakeholders were the citizens of Boulder. In addition to these individuals, the need to address the concerns of the local business owners, Jefferson County residents, out of town visitors and truck drivers that drive through the town regularly was also recognized. The city also formed an advisory council which we used to assist in making decisions throughout the design process.

Public involvement (types, documentation)

Direct public meetings were set and the advisory council was used to identify and address public concerns and issues upfront. These meetings provided opportunities to address concerns and design compromises such as adding period lighting and landscaping into the plans. A plan for efficient construction was set up providing fewer disruptions to the community. During construction a meeting was held every Monday morning which was open to the public. The town’s involvement decreased the amount of redesigns which plagues normal construction projects. Therefore time was saved and moved quickly through the construction process. Based on stakeholder input the size of the storm drain grates was reduced, areas within the median for individuals to plant flowers were provided, the town’s Advisory Committee was able select street lights that match the historical nature of the town, one of the intersections was widened to accommodate the large trucks, and decorative concrete was placed on the bridge to blend into the existing terrain along the river. To demonstrate to the community how the project would affect the feel of their town, display boards were designed and presented at the various town meetings. We also provided updates to local newspapers and news agencies to assist us in spreading the information.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
Various design issues were resolved in cooperation with the citizens and the advisory council. Citizens were provided with different options that addressed all of the previously identified issues. Angle parking is an example of the compromises made by both the department and the citizens of Boulder. The local businesses did not want to reduce the parking available for their customers, however, to maintain angle parking, we would have to widen the road, which was cost prohibitive. Working with the advisory council and businesses it was demonstrated that parallel parking met both parking and safety needs of the community. The overall goal for the citizens of Boulder was to enhance the town’s appearance, which was accomplished through landscaping and median treatments.

CSS concepts by project phase
This collaboration with the local agencies and the public allowed the full range of stakeholders to participate in a process resulting in a transportation facility that is considered a city design and is now a source of community pride. The overall benefit achieved is an aesthetic road that has improved the overall attractiveness of Boulder. Drainage within the city limits was improved, which has reduced problems with mud and dirt. The plantings of trees, bushes and shrubs within the project boundaries has improved air quality for the town as well as provided increased shade to pedestrians and the local storefronts.

Lessons learned
The early and continuous stakeholder involvement has been considered the key for the success of the project. Several complimentary letters have been received that support this.

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

--

Involve stakeholders

--

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.0

Use full range of communication methods

3.0

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

--

Utilize full range of design choices

--

Address alternatives and all modes

--

Maintain environmental harmony

3.0

Address community & social issues

3.0

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.0

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.0

Document project decisions

3.0

Track and meet all commitments

3.0

Create a lasting value for the community

4.0

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.0

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). The research team score will be estimated once the review is completed.

Discussion on CSS principles


Project team’s perspective
The survey was only completed by 1 respondent, the project leader. This response listed “strongly agree” with only one of the fifteen principles, “Create a lasting value for the community.” The principles “Address alternatives and all modes” and “Utilize full range of design choices” were two of the four receiving a ‘3’ or Agree. Additionally, “Document project decisions” and “Track and meet all commitments” also received the lower rating of Agree. Five of the principles were not responded too and the remaining nine principles were listed as agree.

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

--

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.0

Increased stakeholder/public participation

--

--

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

--

--

Increased stakeholder/public trust

--

--

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

--

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

--

Improved predictability of project delivery

--

3.0

Improved project scoping

NA

--

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.0

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

--

--

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

--

--

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

--

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.0

Minimized overall impact to human environment

--

3.0

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

--

3.0

Improved mobility for all users

--

3.0

Improved walkability

--

4.0

Improved bikeability

--

4.0

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

--

4.0

Improved multi-modal options

--

--

Improved community satisfaction

--

4.0

Improved quality of life for community

--

4.0

Fit with local government land use plan

--

--

Improved speed management

--

3.0

Design features appropriate to context

--

3.0

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

2.0

Minimized disruption

--

3.0

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

--

Discussion on Benefit Values



Semi-Quantitative Benefits
The respondent only answered 15 of the 22 benefit questions. Of those answered, only one was described as “disagree, being the “Optimized maintenance and operations.” This may be due to a lack of the use of an interdisciplinary team, as this principle was skipped in the fulfillment of the survey as well. In addition, the project added many streetscape features that may have increased maintenance needs in the future.

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

--

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.0

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

NA

3.0

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

--

3.0

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

--

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

1.0

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). 

No stakeholders completed the survey for this project, which does not allow for a comparison of project team member and stakeholder responses. It is interesting to note that the project leader had relatively high levels of satisfaction with their relationships with the stakeholders and public, while at the same time describing those both of those relationships as informational only.


Overall level of success
Direct public meetings were set and the advisory council was used to identify and address public concerns and issues upfront. The town’s involvement decreased the amount of redesigns which plagues normal construction projects. Based on stakeholder input the size of the storm drain grates was reduced, areas within the median for individuals to plant flowers were provided, the town’s Advisory Committee was able select street lights that match the historical nature of the town, one of the intersections was widened to accommodate the large trucks, and decorative concrete was placed on the bridge to blend into the existing terrain along the river. This collaboration with the local agencies and the public allowed the full range of stakeholders to participate in a process resulting in a transportation facility that is considered a city design and is now a source of community pride. The early and continuous stakeholder involvement has been considered the key for the success of the project.





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