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US 1 Planning Study

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was improvement of US 1 through the City of College Park to address safety, manage congestion, improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and incorporate a sense of place along the corridor.



US 1 Planning Study: The purpose of this project was improvement of US 1 through the City of College Park to address safety, manage congestion, improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and incorporate a sense of place along the corridor.
The purpose of this project was improvement of US 1 through the City of College Park to address safety, manage congestion, improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and incorporate a sense of place along the corridor.

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: College Park, MD

Lead Agency: Maryland State Highway Agency

Contact Person: N/A

Phase Completed: Planning

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 Study Team was set up that was comprised of highway and traffic engineers, landscape architects, graphic designers, planners, and included considerable stakeholder representation. 

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
Α Focus Group was formed and included representatives from local businesses, residents, elected officials, and state and local government representatives. The Study Team collaborated closely with the Focus Group and was able to produce the best possible design with the greatest cost-to-benefit ratio to present to the public for feedback. The result was an impressive amount of constructive community action to help the team best meet the safety, aesthetic, and operational needs of the corridor. The Focus Group was responsible for communicating the progress of the study to the local citizens and businesses that were not directly involved with the study. 

Public involvement (types, documentation) 
The Study Team solicited feedback through focus group meetings, individual property owner meetings, workshops, and interagency review meetings with resource agencies. During meetings that were held to discuss the overall study participants made suggestions on locations for access and access consolidation. In addition, the business owners also were able to better define the logistics of their business in order to help the team determine the location of median breaks and u-turns. An Alternates Public Workshop was held to present the preliminary alternates developed for this study and to receive input from the public concerning support or opposition to each alternate. A Location/Design Public Hearing was held to present the results of the detailed engineering and environmental studies for the proposed improvements to the citizens in the project area and to accept public testimony. This information was then utilized by the Study Team to evaluate the alternates and make modifications in support of public concerns. An Informational Public Workshop was held to present the options developed and to receive feedback. The communication tools used to communicate during the planning study included the following:

  • Brochures summarized project description, the Alternates Public Workshop, and for the Location/Design Pubic Hearing 
  • Newsletters provided frequent updates on the study and summarized project description for the Business Community Meetings and for the June 2004 Informational Workshop), 
  • Displays were used at all public meetings to depict the alternates under consideration, traffic conditions, environmental impacts, schedule, and next steps and renderings were used for all public meetings to show the features of the alternates once they had been chosen.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined) 
Τhe Study Team worked tirelessly through a collaborative and interactive process with the community to develop an alternate that incorporates “community livability features and aesthetic treatments”. One of the goals of the study was to create a “Sense of Place” along the US 1 corridor by developing streetscape plans that, through the use of landscaping, utility relocation and other unifying elements, present users with consistent and coherent themes, which is the basis of CSS principles. The Study Team, through coordination with local property owners and business associations, was able to minimize impacts and decrease associated right-of-way costs. Bicycle lanes, consolidated access points, bus pull-offs, improved sidewalk connectivity and pedestrian crossings, street trees and landscaped panels, improved lighting and other aesthetic improvements were incorporated while maintaining a minimal footprint to avoid impacts to local commercial properties. 

CSS concepts by project phase
An extensive group of stakeholders and affected citizens was consulted extensively and consistently throughout the project. Several meetings were held with special interest and advocacy groups to receive suggestions on how they envisioned the improved corridor. The interests of the community are represented in the selected alternate. An extensive public involvement process was utilized to solicit input and shape the final alternative selected. The final design includes several treatments that will address safety, mobility, aesthetic, and environmental issues. When constructed, the project will offer increased safety, economic growth, and rate of multi-modal transportation usage. 

Lessons learned
By utilizing the talents and resources of those who provided input, the Study Team was able to produce an alternate that provided the greatest possible improvements to the function and safety of the highway and implement features beneficial to the aesthetic quality of the corridor. Feedback received from the community consistently applauded the Study Team’s efforts to incorporate the comments, ideas and critiques of the proposed designs as provided by the public. The interaction with the Focus Group has been one of the strongest and most consistent such relationships for a Project Planning Study in recent memory.

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.

 

CSS Principle

Project Team

Use of interdisciplinary teams

3.5

Involve stakeholders

3.5

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.6

Use full range of communication methods

3.8

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.4

Utilize full range of design choices

3.2

Address alternatives and all modes

3.4

Maintain environmental harmony

3.5

Address community & social issues

3.5

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.5

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

3.3

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.5

Discussion on CSS Principles


Project team’s perspective
The project team survey was completed by 5 project team members all with the state transportation agency.  For all principles the team members either responded as agree or strongly agree, indicating a high agreement that all 15 principles were applied.  This project was ultimately successful due to the high level of coordination between the project team and the community.  This coincides with the principle “Use full range of communication methods” as the highest ranked alternative.  The lowest ranked principle was “Utilize a full range of design choices.”  Only one respondent indicated strong agreement with this principle.  Similarly, only one respondent indicated strong agreement with “Address alternative and all modes” (one responded “Unknown”).  This may be indicative of the fact that the project was a roadway rehabilitation project and thus limited the amount of design choices and alternatives that could be explored.  

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

3.0

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public participation

--

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

--

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public trust

--

3.5

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

4.0

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.0

Improved predictability of project delivery

--

2.3

Improved project scoping

NA

3.0

Improved project budgeting

NA

2.8

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

--

3.0

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

--

2.8

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

--

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.5

Minimized overall impact to human environment

--

3.3

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

--

3.0

Improved mobility for all users

--

3.0

Improved walkability

--

3.3

Improved bikeability

--

3.3

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

--

3.3

Improved multi-modal options

--

2.7

Improved community satisfaction

--

3.5

Improved quality of life for community

--

3.3

Fit with local government land use plan

--

3.2

Improved speed management

--

2.7

Design features appropriate to context

--

3.2

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

2.7

Minimized disruption

--

3.0

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

2.5


Discussion on Benefit Values



Semi-Quantitative Benefits:
No statekholders completed the survey and therefore comparison of project team member and stakeholder benefits is not possible. However, the varied range of responses by the project team does give some indication of the benefits on the project. It is interesting to note that highest rated benefit was “decreased costs for overall project delivery” (4.0; strongly agree) while at the same time the lowest rated benefit was “decreased time for overall project delivery” (2.0; disagree). This may be indicative of the way in which the project worked with stakeholders to reduce impacts and right of way costs, leading to a cheaper project overall, but increasing the amount of time required for public involvement, planning and design. It was also by a respondent to “Involve key stakeholders earlier in the project.” This may be indicative of a project that had to revisit some aspects of the project due to stakeholder concern. Once of the lessons learned stated by a respondent was that “t is difficult to balance the desires of all stakeholders in on a project in a highly urbanized area where the goals of the various stakeholder groups are not consistent.” While this presents a challenge it is also noted that “improved community satisfaction” and “improved quality of life for community” wee both rated relatively high (3.3 and 3.5 respectively.

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

3.2

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

--

3.2

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

--

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.6

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

1.6

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 team had relatively high levels of satisfaction with their relationships with the stakeholders and public, while at the same time describing those relationships relatively low compared to other projects studied. The stakeholder relationship was identified as between a consultative and partnership, while the public relationship was described as between informational and consultative. 

Overall level of success
Α Focus Group was formed and included representatives from local businesses, residents, elected officials, and state and local government representatives. The Study Team collaborated closely with the Focus Group and was able to produce the best possible design with the greatest cost-to-benefit ratio to present to the public for feedback. The result was an impressive amount of constructive community action to help the team best meet the safety, aesthetic, and operational needs of the corridor. An Alternates Public Workshop was held to present the preliminary alternates developed for this study and to receive input from the public concerning support or opposition to each alternate. Τhe Study Team worked tirelessly through a collaborative and interactive process with the community to develop an alternate that incorporates “community livability features and aesthetic treatments”. The Study Team, through coordination with local property owners and business associations, was able to minimize impacts and decrease associated right-of-way costs. By utilizing the talents and resources of those who provided input, the Study Team was able to produce an alternate that provided the greatest possible improvements to the function and safety of the highway and implement features beneficial to the aesthetic quality of the corridor. Feedback received from the community consistently applauded the Study Team’s efforts to incorporate the comments, ideas and critiques of the proposed designs as provided by the public.



The purpose of this project was improvement of US 1 through the City of College Park to address safety, manage congestion, improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and incorporate a sense of place along the corridor.     
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