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2 expenditures and, therefore, they try to reduce the cost of their bridges and other projects when- ever possible. Highway construction projects frequently close travel lanes for months and divert traffic to redundant parallel routes. Highway agencies have long lead times for planning. They develop their projects much differently with years of analysis, as opposed to railroads, which make capital decisions on an annual basis. Although both highway agencies and railroads are driven by engineering factors to make investment decisions about linear transportation facilities, they approach their decisions from very different perspectives. Dozens of state and local highway agencies were consulted. Their commonly expressed needs from the railroads include the following: · Timely and reliable reviews; · Better internal railroad coordination; · Improved mechanisms for access to rights-of-way; · Consistent design requirements; and · A spirit of cooperation and a recognition that public agencies have limited time and resources to accommodate railroad needs. Findings The following key findings hold promise for improving the agreement process. Few Metrics Exist A common issue throughout this research is a lack of common baselines of performance. It appears that there are no widely recognized standards for performance in conducting railroad reviews, agreements, or approvals. In fact, few states could produce metrics on their own project submittals to determine how many projects fail to receive a review or an approval within an agreed-on time frame. A few states have developed master agreements that include desired review times, but those appear to be in the minority. As a result of this lack of baseline information, the reporting of best practices and the listing of recommendations have been based on the informed consensus of the practitioners, and not the empirical observation of performance. Pressures on Both Sides Will Increase Railroad traffic is projected to steadily increase because of international trade, long-term economic and population growth, and the expansion of intermodal traffic. The recession of 2008 depressed rail traffic, but as a long-term trend, rail volumes are predicted to grow. The existing and finite rail corridors will become busier, more congested, and even less tolerant of delays or encroachments. Neither side can expect a lessening of pressures to manage project reviews efficiently. Both Sides Agree on Best Practices On the positive side, however, the highway agencies and railroads have identified more than 20 best practices that expedite the review process. The productive and complementary examples illustrate practices that have been drawn from "partnering," good project management strategies, and the type of "process improvement" efforts common in frameworks such as Six Sigma, the Baldrige process, or "environmental streamlining." As with the streamlining best-case examples, both par- ties have enumerated their requirements and have jointly identified practices and processes that satisfy them while at the same time advancing highway renewal projects. These best practices include the following: · Early formal coordination while project concepts are still under development; · Periodic, ongoing reviews throughout the project's development;