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Hypothetical Example: Application of SWCP Guidance to the State of South Orange 31 cost template for estimating the capital and life-cycle costs of the projects being considered. This cost template was based on the past 5 years' of cost data for different types of projects. Project and Corridor Investment Program In the SWCP guidelines, it was emphasized that the major product of a corridor study will be a corridor plan with specific recommendations for the implementation of projects and strategies. Some key directions were given in how this was to be done. Many of these projects and strategies will focus on solving issues that are more local in nature and, thus, will require local implementation. For projects on state highways, the adopted corridor plan will clearly delineate those for which the SODOT is responsible. The corridor plan submittal to SODOT will be organized in the following categories: · Projects on the state highway network; · Projects not on the state highway network that need state action; · Non-highway projects; and · Projects using innovative funding strategies. Projects identified in each of these categories should be prioritized based on the evaluation criteria identified earlier and, in some cases, by funding category. In particular, those projects that best meet the state identified goals should be clearly noted. In addition to capital projects, the corridor plan should identify other strategies that are important to maintain the future performance of the transportation facilities in the corridor, such as those relating to land use and demand management. Also, the corridor study could identify legislative or regulatory changes that might have to be adopted to implement a particular strategy (such as safety or access management). Identify Statewide Investment Program The organizational structure created by SODOT at the beginning of the SWCP process has proven to be very useful in developing a statewide investment program based on the results of the corridor studies. The SWCP management committee has met several times since the SWCP process was established and has found that the corridor planning approach to statewide planning provides a timely and more operations-oriented perspective on a state investment program than does the systems-wide approach used previously. The committee initially relied on the existing South Orange Long Range Statewide Transporta- tion Plan as the foundation for projects being forwarded into the STIP. However, as recom- mended projects started to be forwarded to SODOT, the committee considered each from the perspective of statewide priorities. Given limited resources, not all of the projects were recom- mended for inclusion in the plan and STIP; however, the level of specificity associated with the projects recommended in the corridor studies did allow the committee to determine which projects were more important than others with respect to statewide goals. One of the useful aspects of the SWCP approach was that projects and strategies for improving state transportation system performance other than highway expansion surfaced from the process. For example, given the more detailed examination of options in one par- ticular corridor, SODOT was able to identify operations-oriented, ITS, and TDM actions that are now being implemented to manage travel demand in that corridor. In another corridor, the regional planning agency that directed the study identified several potential transit options, including park-and-ride and express bus, that most likely would not have been considered under
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32 A Guidebook for Corridor-Based Statewide Transportation Planning a more traditional statewide planning process. A more detailed alternatives analysis is now being considered for this corridor. One of the key issues facing SODOT was how to prioritize the many projects coming from dif- ferent corridor studies as well as from other sources. The Director of Planning was aware that there are a variety of ways to establish the relative value of one project versus another. However, with the large number of projects expected to be recommended from the SWCP process, there was a good chance that statewide consistency in considering different projects could be lost without some framework for comparison. The need for this framework became apparent after initial efforts to compare all projects on the basis of a benefit/cost (B/C) ratio. The B/C ratio provided useful information concerning the level of benefits that would accrue given costs, but it did not take into account non-monetary benefits, and it showed little sensitivity to the level of investment. For example, a B/C ratio of 1.4 on a $100,000 project is difficult to compare with a 1.2 B/C ratio for a $10,000,000 project. To take these factors into account, the SODOT adopted a corridor project evaluation approach that placed all projects within quartiles for the range of values found among all corridor projects. This example method for prioritizing among corridor projects is offered as an illustration only. There are many other approaches that transportation agencies could use to serve the same purpose. A score of "4" was assigned to project factors that fell in the fourth quartile, a "3" in the third quartile, and so forth. Thus, for example, if the number of crashes (3-year average) for all projects ranged from 0 to 31 over 3 years, the quartiles would be defined as follows: · Quartile 1: 07 crashes, · Quartile 2: 815 crashes, · Quartile 3: 1623 crashes, and · Quartile 4: 2531 crashes. If a project crash record was 22 crashes, it would fall into the third quartile and receive a "3" in the scoring scheme. In other words, this implies that making improvements to a location having 22 crashes should receive greater priority than those having 15 or fewer crashes, and it should not receive a greater priority than a location having 25 or more crashes. The sum of the scores for each project provides a relative ranking of the projects from the perspective of state investment. The Director of Planning realized that the highway project rank- ings would most likely have to be undertaken by funding category since some funds cannot be transferred between programs. Transit or other modal projects would likely have to be handled separately as well. Table 2 shows an example application of this approach for some of the early SWCP corridor studies in South Orange. It will take some time for SODOT to cycle through all of the corridors that have been identified as being of state significance, but the experience to date with the SWCP process suggests that, once all of the corridor studies have been completed, the statewide transportation plan and STIP will truly represent a well-founded "picture" of the transportation needs of the state. If generating new funds is any indicator of a successful planning process, then the SWCP process has been very effective. Based on the initial success of the SWCP process, the state legislature provided additional funds to SODOT to expedite the process of completing the state's corridor studies. State legislators did not want to wait for several years to get their projects considered as part of the statewide transportation plan. The Secretary of Transportation was pleased that, for the first time in many years, the state legislature actually focused on the transportation planning process rather than mandating specific projects be built.