Search fhwa.dot.gov

Transportation Expansion (T-REX) Project

Project Abstract

Improve mobility, enhance safety, provide for alternate modes



TRansportationEXpansionProject:

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: Denver, Colorado 


Lead Agency:
Colorado Department of Transportation


Contact Person:
Rick Clarke, Project Director


Phase Completed:
Construction complete September 2006

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) 
Colorado Department of Transportation 
Regional Transportation District 
FHWA 
FTA 
Carter & Burgess, Inc. (Consultants) 
Disciplines: Engineering, Planning, Biologists, Cultural Resource Specialists 

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction) 
Two committees were used: a Technical Committee and a Policy Committee. Numerous meetings were held with these two groups. The Policy Committee was instrumental in securing New Starts funding for the light rail component. 

Public involvement (types, documentation)
Numerous traditional public meetings were held and over 200 meetings were held over a several year MIS and NEPA process with neighborhood and business organizations. During the Design-Build T-REX construction project, there was a very proactive public information program. Public information managers from the owner’s team (CDOT and RTD) worked collaboratively with the contractor’s public information team to keep stakeholders informed of progress and construction activities in a timely manner. 

Design solution (purpose and need, process, modes and alternatives examined, documentation)
During the MIS phase, a multi-level screening process was used to develop and evaluate modes such as Bus/HOV lanes, light rail transit, highway expansion, commuter rail transit; and alternative alignments. A number of possible locations for transit stations were also developed and evaluated. The design solution that best met purpose and need and minimized environmental impacts was a combination of highway widening and LRT corridors.

CSS concepts by project phase 
The basic CSS concepts that were incorporated by phase were: 

  • EIS Phase: At Colorado Boulevard, a depressed profile was chosen for LRT because it had less of an impact on a several story apartment building.
  • PE Phase: Narrowed shoulders were chosen adjacent to several parks to minimize impact to those properties protected by Section 4(f).
  • Final design: Implementation of a program to allow neighbors to opt-out of a programmed noise wall was done to preserve views of the mountains.

Lessons learned
Very aggressive, proactive and transparent public and local agency involvement is essential throughout all phases of the project. The partnership spirit and culture that was implemented during the EIS, design and construction phases among all of the project team members was instrumental in the project’s success.

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

3.7

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.7

Utilize full range of design choices

3.3

Address alternatives and all modes

3.4

Maintain environmental harmony

3.2

Address community & social issues

3.5

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.3

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.5

Document project decisions

3.7

Track and meet all commitments

3.5

Create a lasting value for the community

3.7

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.6

Discussion on CSS principles

Project team’s perspective 
There were 27 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 “Maintain environmental harmony” (3.2), “Utilize full range of design choices” (3.3) and “Address aesthetic treatments and enhancements” (3.3).

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, landscape architects, public relations specialists, construction engineers, traffic engineers, environmental scientists, right of way specialists, light rail engineers, legal advisors, and project managers. Most were involved in the planning and design phases of the project and all were involved in construction. There were at least six members that were involved in all phases of the project. Approximately two-thirds of the respondents were new to CSS with 0-3 years of experience, while most of the remaining respondents had a longer experience (over 6 years). Finally, almost all team members had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

As noted above, there were three principles that had a low score (3.2 and 3.3) 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 positive side, there are several principles that the team was in agreement that were highly met (a score greater than or equal to 3.7). These include the “Use of interdisciplinary team”, “Involve stakeholders”, “Seek broad-based public involvement”, “Use full range of communication methods”, “Achieve consensus on purpose and need”, “Document project decisions”, and “Create a lasting value for the community” (all had a score of 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. The use of various public involvement approaches as well the interaction with stakeholders were additional strong points that were identified by the comments of the team respondents. 

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

3.1

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects  

NA

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public participation

3.2

3.2

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

3.4

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.3

3.4

Decreased costs for overall project delivery 

NA

2.7

Decreased time for overall project delivery 

NA

3.3

Improved predictability of project delivery 

3.9

3.6

Improved project scoping

NA

3.3

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.3

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

3.2

3.4

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.3

3.2

Improved sustainable decisions and investments  

NA

3.2

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.1

Minimized overall impact to human environment

3.5

3.3

Minimized overall impact to natural environment  

3.4

3.0

Improved mobility for all users

3.8

3.7

Improved walkability

2.9

3.1

Improved bikeability

2.8

2.9

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.2

3.5

Improved multi-modal options

3.7

3.6

Improved community satisfaction

3.7

3.5

Improved quality of life for community

3.7

3.5

Fit with local government land use plan

3.3

3.4

Improved speed management

3.2

3.1

Design features appropriate to context

3.5

3.2

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.2

Minimized disruption

3.3

3.5

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.3

Discussion on Benefit Values

Semi-Quantitative Benefits 
Overall, both stakeholders and team members indicated that several 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 mobility for all users” (team), “Improved multi-modal options”, “Improved community satisfaction”, “Improved quality of life for community” (stakeholders). These benefits indicate that the project resulted in a better environment for the community and there is an agreement between team members and stakeholders on these issues. 

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”, “Improved bikeability” (team), and “Improved walkability and bikeability” (stakeholders). These answers indicate that the respondents perceive that the process resulted in higher costs for the project and had no significant impacts for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

An apparent trend of the benefits materialized is the consistent difference between the perspective of the team and the stakeholders, where for all common benefits the team scored them higher. In general, these differences are not large. 

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

Several meetings with public and stakeholders
throughout the planning and design phases
with large attendance

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

Agreement with SHPO to project a
historic bridge and CDOT to donate ROW

Improved environmental stewardship

Aesthetic treatments to mitigate
visual impacts; wetland replacement

Minimized overall impact to human environment

Some relocations (homes, apartments, businesses)

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.2 acres of wetland replacement

Improved mobility for all users

18 pedestrian crossings at bridges;
6 bicycle crossings;
17.9 miles of light rail

Improved walkability

New crossings and station designs
to improve pedestrian access

Improved bikeability

New crossings and incorporation of stations
to existing bicycle network

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 previous table and indicates that the high scores for the various improvements noted are indeed true. However, the available data reputes the perception for those benefits that had the lower scores (below 3.0) regarding the bikeability and walkability issues. However, the cost related concerns were not evaluated due to lack of additional data. The project had some impacts to natural and human environment but the EIS provided an extensive list of mitigation efforts to ameliorate these impacts. 

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

3.6

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.3

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

NA

3.2

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

3.3

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). 

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. For this project, the stakeholders showed higher levels of satisfaction working with the team than the team with stakeholders and public. However, both groups showed a relatively high satisfaction score. 

There is almost no difference of opinion regarding the level of satisfaction between the team and stakeholders regarding the means with which input was included in the project. Both groups showed a good level of satisfaction indicating adequacy of input solicitation. Again, the stakeholders showed a slightly greater level of satisfaction that the team members. 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

2.3

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.7

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.0

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 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 a consultation relationship. 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. 

Overall level of success
This is a successful use of CSS processes in a multi-modal project. The transparent public and local agency involvement was essential throughout all phases of the project and resulted in the development of a solution that considered more than highways. The partnership spirit and culture that was implemented during the EIS, design and construction phases among all of the project team members was instrumental in the project’s success.

 



    
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