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US 285 (Foxton Road to Bailey)

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was to improve the safety and capacity of US 285 by eliminating inconsistent lane configurations, deficient roadway geometry and speed variations on the existing road while addressing issues posed by mountain terrain, winter weather and frequent access points.



US 285 (Image): The purpose of this project was to improve the safety and capacity of US 285 by eliminating inconsistent lane configurations, deficient roadway geometry and speed variations on the existing road while addressing issues posed by mountain terrain, winter weather and frequent access points.
The purpose of this project was to improve the safety and capacity of US 285 by eliminating inconsistent lane configurations, deficient roadway geometry and speed variations on the existing road while addressing issues posed by mountain terrain, winter weather and frequent access points.

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: near Denver, CO

Lead Agency: Colorado DOT

Contact Person: Jeff Kullman (CDOT)

Phase Completed: Construction

Purpose and Need: The purpose of this project was improve the safety and capacity of US 285 by eliminating inconsistent lane configurations, deficient roadway geometry and speed variations on the existing road while addressing issues posed by mountain terrain, winter weather and frequent access points.

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 for the Feasibility Study and the NEPA Process included civil engineers, environmental planners, wildlife biologists, landscape architects, structural engineers, drainage engineers, and noise and air quality analysts. The consultant project managers for both phases were environmental planners and the team manager was an engineer and certified planner.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
Agencies involved in this project are CDOT, FHWA, EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SHPO, Division of Wildlife, Jefferson County, Park County, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments. Value engineering conducted during EIS preparation included members of the public, neighborhoods; wildlife agencies, the Sierra Club, and open space agencies.

Public involvement (types, documentation)
Numerous communication tools were utilized to communicate community needs, constraints and design concepts. These included:

  • Visual simulation (both computerized and artist rendering types) of possible design concepts, particularly at the access points.
  • Highly graphic Web site and newsletters.
  • Design alternatives presented in both engineering plans and color aerials to facilitate understanding.
  • Displays of alternatives for retaining wall textures and designs—with surveys set up at public workshops to gather input.
  • The public involvement activities (e.g. scoping meetings) to determine community and agency concerns included:
  • Three public workshops at key points in the process to obtain input on the design and design refinements.
  • Neighborhood and property owner meetings to discuss specific property impacts.
  • A Value Engineering team involved representatives from the Preserve Our Mountain Community group and a member of the general public from one of the rural counties.
  • Three newsletters.
  • A project Web site.
  • Press releases.
  • Special outreach to low-income and minority populations.

Design solution (process, modes and alternatives examined) 
Community/stakeholder values were addressed in a preliminary basis by planned incorporation of desired actions/features related to the proposed project. Open spaces were preserved by cooperative work with local agencies to purchase/set aside parcels of land, grade separated intersections were used instead of conventional intersections and one potential grade separation was eliminated, improved access control, clear zones and curve elimination improved safety. Environmental issues were addressed by avoidance and minimization of takings of wetlands and use of animal crossings. Aesthetic features included texturing of bridge and retaining wall concrete and rock/slope cutting in a natural manner. 

CSS concepts by project phase 
The significant public/stakeholder involvement undertaken in the NEPA Phase was used effectively to address concerns using appropriate actions including investigation of flexible design options, cooperative access control and land banking agreements, minimization of environmental impacts and appropriate aesthetic treatments. Value engineering resulted in the elimination of an unnecessary grade separated interchange. 

Lessons learned
In general, the Project Team was very favorable towards the use of CSS. They felt it increased public interest, ownership and consensus and improved communication and understanding of project goals. It also created an overall well balanced project. The Project Team believed that early recognition/action on issues facilitated project development. That could be achieved by listening to stakeholder/public concerns. They involved the resource agencies and public to develop solutions and sought creative methods to address project challenges. Opponents could be swayed by involving them in the project development process.

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

3.8

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.6

Use full range of communication methods 

3.1

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.6

Utilize full range of design choices

3.4

Address alternatives and all modes

3.4

Maintain environmental harmony

3.6

Address community & social issues

3.4

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.8

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

3.6

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.3

Discussion on CSS Principles

Project team’s perspective
The Project Team survey respondents included design engineers, construction engineers, traffic engineers, historic and environmental specialists, and a project manager. Two were from consultants, one was from the FHWA and five were from CDOT. The project team respondents worked on the project from long range planning through construction. Seven team members had 10 + years experience in project development and five members had 6+ years experience with CSS. They noted that all the CSS principles had been applied. The highest ranked were “Involve all stakeholders” and “Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements”. 

CSS Benefits
S
urveys 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

3.4

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

3.1

Increased stakeholder/public participation

3.0

3.4

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

2.7

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public trust

3.0

3.4

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.7

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.9

Improved predictability of project delivery

2.8

3.1

Improved project scoping

NA

3.1

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.0

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

2.5

3.3

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

3.0

3.0

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.3

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.5

Minimized overall impact to human environment

3.0

3.3

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

3.0

3.5

Improved mobility for all users

3.2

3.8

Improved walkability

2.0

3.3

Improved bikeability

2.5

3.4

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

3.3

3.5

Improved multi-modal options

2.7

3.0

Improved community satisfaction

3.0

3.4

Improved quality of life for community

3.0

3.7

Fit with local government land use plan

3.0

3.4

Improved speed management

2.3

3.3

Design features appropriate to context

3.0

3.4

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.0

Minimized disruption

3.0

3.2

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

3.1

Discussion on Benefit Values

Semi-Quantitative Benefits 
The semi-quantitative benefits analysis had a balanced stakeholder/project team survey response (stakeholders-7; project team-8). The responding stakeholders represented historic, archeological, environmental, park and local government perspectives. The stakeholders disagreed with the project team on the CSS benefits related to “Increased stakeholder/public ownership”, “Improved predictability of project delivery”, “Increased opportunities for partnering or in-kind resources”,  “Improved opportunities for joint use and development”, “Improved walkability”, “Improved Bikeability” “Improved multi-modal options” and “Improved speed management”. Where joint rankings were obtained on other CSS benefits, both groups were in general agreement though the stakeholder rankings tended to be lower than those of the project team. 

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

 

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

Aggregate CSS-related cost savings of  $200,000 (wetland mitigation),
$500,000 (downgrade EIS to EA),
$55,000,000 (grade separated intersections v. interchanges),
$6,000,000 (elimination of one intersection),
$200,000 (reduced use of CDOT personnel)
v. $2,000,000 (wildlife underpasses),
$100,000 (culvert for small animals),
$250,000 (aesthetic bridge treatment) 

Decreased time for overall project delivery

Downgrading from EIS to EA saved 8 months project time.

Improved predictability of project delivery

 

Improved project scoping

 

Improved project budgeting

 

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

Worked with open space agencies to identify parcels
that could be acquired for that purpose. 

Improved environmental stewardship

 

Minimized overall impact to human environment

 

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

Wetland impacts reduced from 4 acres to 0.7 acres.
72 culvert crossings will be modified to incorporate small animal crossings.
Rock & slope cutting done in a natural manner.

Improved mobility for all users

Travel times were reduced for more than 80% of all access points.  

Improved walkability

Installation of a trail a Wisp Creek

Improved bikeability

 

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

Number of conflict points reduced by 75 % 

Improved multi-modal options

 

Improved speed management

 

Optimized maintenance and operations

 

Minimized disruption

 

Increased risk management and liability protection 


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 Question Part 1

Stakeh.

Team

I  am satisfied with the relationship we had with project team

3.0

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

3.1

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

3.0

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).

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

1.6

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.9

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.4

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 demonstrates that CSS can provide real project cost savings if agencies focus on providing facilities that meet the needs/desires of communities. The total claimed project savings exceeds $50 million using a practical design approach. Significant reductions in environmental impacts/mitigation costs were obtained by judicious selection of the project corridor.



The purpose of this project was to improve the safety and capacity of US 285 by eliminating inconsistent lane configurations, deficient roadway geometry and speed variations on the existing road while addressing issues posed by mountain terrain, winter weather and frequent access points.     
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