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Alternatives Development, Evaluation & Selection

The evaluation of project alternatives and alternative designs (including non-traditional solutions, such as using alternative routes or modes) is important because it allows stakeholders the ability to assess the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of approaches to addressing a project's "purpose and need."

A compelling shared vision attracts partners and money. The vision statement should include a Statement of Community Values, a Statement of Environmental Values and a Transportation Needs Assessment.

Alternative designs should be developed by integrating the community vision, opportunities and problem/need statement into the design process, by sharing information with stakeholders on a regular basis, through informing stakeholders quickly of problems that arise with a particular preferred alternative, changes that need to be made to solve problems and to give stakeholders options for addressing them (trade off).

Excerpt IconExcerpt Community Values
The Florida DOT defines community values as: "a set of ideals, which are openly practiced or hidden, that are shared among individuals that identify themselves as a group. Community values are often expressed in written, oral, ritual or symbolic forms to communicate these ideals to the group or others. These values, which may evolve over time, may relate to family, education, government, economy, natural resources, religion, recreation , social class, communication networks, health and general welfare." more...
from  Community Impact Assessment
Excerpt IconExcerpt Alternatives Development: Engaging Stakeholders in Identification of Alternatives
"Engage stakeholders in alternative identification. This is the most creative part of the project development process, in which sets of solutions are crafted in response to the problem statement and the evaluation criteria. Alternatives are generally developed through the iterative processes and project team input.

"Alternatives [can be] generated [at] various events involving stakeholders such as resource agency or advisory group workshops, and public design charrettes. Ideas generated in this fashion are refined by agency technical staff and disseminated broadly for public review and comment. Discussion with staff from pilot states indicated a preference in many cases from their customers to be involved at the beginning. Project successes were attributed to the DOT 'starting with a blank sheet of paper.'" Furthermore, agency/stakeholder collaboration and consultation in alternative development will likely uncover opportunities for enhancing additional, non-DOT resources.  more...
from  NCHRP Report 480: A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions
Excerpt IconExcerpt Quality of Life
"As in... developing the problem definition, it is critical to ensure that the full range of stakeholder values is reflected in the universe of alternative solutions considered at the outset. This avoids the all too common problems of suggestions for viable alternatives being raised near the end of the process, resulting in a "back to square one" loop of activities [and expense].
"Agencies are... generally less comfortable with attempts to measure the effects of alternatives on issues such as "quality of life" or "community cohesion." These are often viewed as intangible and therefore unmeasurable [sic]. However, they are important issues to stakeholders, they must be tackled head-on."  more...
from  NCHRP Report 480: A Guide to Best Practices for Achieving Context Sensitive Solutions

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