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52 Step 4: Act to Improve the Applicable changes will be incorporated, plans will be revised, Partnering Memorandum and changes will be made to the master agreements, project agreements, program agreements, practices, and provisions in If the changes from the previous step require discussion and the partnering process. concurrence with others from within their respective organiza- tions, then the two parties will meet again after obtaining inter- nal feedback. The results of this step will be a list of changes that Examples of Best Practices need to be made to the existing partnering agreement. These and Processes recommended improvements will then be incorporated into The implementation steps described in this section elaborate the memorandum and used to refine the process. The objective on the best practices that are incorporated into the memoran- of Step 4 is to continue the cycle of continuous improvement dum described earlier. Many of them were identified in gen- throughout the partnering process. eral by the members of the advisory panel. When the advisory panel and the resulting survey identified a best practice, the Implementation at the Program project team researched examples of it as employed by high- and Project Levels way agencies or railroads around the country. The following The four steps described above lead to a programmatic agree- best practices are synthesized from several examples found ment to create a partnering process for the overall highway nationally. Some are modified to include examples pulled from railroad relationship. The same logic that is used at the pro- the partnering and streamlining processes. grammatic level is also used at the individual project level. Each In keeping with the project requirements, any constraints-- project, in effect, is handled through a similar series of steps including financial ones--that must be considered or overcome and processes that mirror the larger, programmatic relation- are included. ship between the two organizations. Figure 4.2 shows that the implementation of the partnering Project Start-up Meeting: Trigger for process occurs at both the project level and the overall program the Start of Project Partnering level. The feedback from the results of the implementation both at the program and at the project level will be used as Ongoing communication and having buy-in from both parties input to improve the partnering process detailed in Figure 4.1. are key elements to developing partnerships that will ensure the Master Partnering process agreements, (Figure 4.1) processes, and practices Adoption at project level Management of projects Changes/feedback Projects Projects Projects Evaluate project outcome Figure 4.2. Partnering cycle.

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53 success of any process that is implemented. To facilitate this, where staff from various organizational units collaborate to conducting early start-up meetings for all new projects is a coordinate the same activities. In either case, the importance of good practice. All transportation agencies have a project devel- coordination is recognized and special attention is given to the opment process (PDP) for new projects. The PDP details the activity. Also, personnel assigned to the coordination task have steps that agencies take from the start of the planning process certain authority to take actions and manage aspects of projects. to the end of construction of the project. Early in the PDP, the Having someone in a highway agency that acts as a liaison highway agencies look at existing data, conduct technical stud- and coordinates projects with the railroad helps the agency in ies, prepare base maps and identify study areas and logical ter- the following areas: mini for new projects. If during this early stage the study areas indicate any potential impact to the railroads, the highway Focus on organizational goals. Focus on the overall agency agencies should engage the railroads in early discussions. Early goals and prioritize activities across projects to ensure that coordination and communication between the railroads and the overall goals of the agency are achieved. This eliminates highway agencies could eliminate or at least reduce disagree- districts and divisions focusing on regional priorities. ments as the projects proceed to design and construction. Eliminates internal competition. Eliminates situations in One of the early steps in most highway agencies' PDP is which divisions or districts communicate and negotiate identifying stakeholders and communicating with them. High- higher priorities for their own projects versus those sub- way agencies should treat the railroads as an important stake- mitted by other divisions or districts. It also eliminates com- holder through the PDP process and communicate with them petition among agency personnel for the attention of the on projects that cross or are in close vicinity to a railroad. This railroads. early involvement should provide the railroads information Reduces contentious discussions involving the railroad. that can initiate internal discussion and could prevent major The task of prioritizing projects can lead to contentious dis- delays later in the process. cussions between the railroad and agency personnel and Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- could have a negative effect on relationship and trust between menting this process: None. All projects affecting railroads are various personnel on both sides. eventually coordinated with the railroad. This best practice Effective use of railroad's time. Reduces the time on project only accelerates the notification and makes it routine early in management activities required from the railroads. The every involved project. activities involved in prioritizing tasks across multiple proj- ects can be time consuming and often require significant time in project management including negotiations and Liaison and Coordination coordination with project sponsors. It is time-consuming for The process for liaison and coordination of activities on proj- the railroad to take on the task of prioritizing and coordinat- ects both within the agency and with the railroads plays an ing agency projects and activities. important role in reducing stress, minimizing miscommunica- Provides clear direction to railroad on agency project pri- tion, streamlining work and resource requirements, minimiz- orities. Provides clear direction and guidance to the rail- ing delays, and effectively and efficiently delivering the project. roads on the project priorities of the agency and provides The best decisions can fail because of improper coordination clearer timelines for various deliverables. resulting in poor implementation. For projects to be successful, More options for the agency to change project priorities. good decisions should be followed by good coordination that Enables the agency to communicate change in project pri- involves communicating the goals clearly and translating them orities and reshuffle projects when agency priorities change. into specific expectations, actions, and clear goals on deliver- Consistency in project management agencywide. Pro- ables and schedules. vides consistency in dealing with projects across multiple Highway agencies and railroads are large organizations with districts and regions. This consistency makes it easier for complex operational needs and organizational structures. the railroad to work on multiple projects within an agency Moreover, the priorities, roles, and responsibilities of person- than when dealing with varying processes and approaches nel in each highway agency and within various divisions and of different projects and project managers within an agency. districts vary. Coordination helps get everyone to march to the Consistency in negotiations and billing. Facilitates con- same beat. It helps streamline the overall project process, elim- sistency in negotiations, policies, billings, designs, agree- inate duplication, and avoid confusion on priorities. ments, and other aspects of work between the agency and Some state DOTs have an organizational unit that is dedi- the railroads. cated to coordinating all activities for the various internal divi- Facilitates continuous improvement. Facilitates continu- sions. The office also coordinates with external agencies such ous improvement and sharing and adoption of best prac- as the railroads. Other DOTs have virtual organizational units tices within the agency.

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54 District/regions 2-year prioritized project list Review of projects from list Liaison initiates discussion across all districts/regions with railroad Combined 2- Meeting with railroad and year project list districts/regions Liaison coordinates Agreements Projects Synchronize combined project processing of paperwork and not selected Input from list with agency goals agreements central office, districts/ Prioritize projects agency- Liaison coordinates regions wide to create an agency and conducts project list project start-up meeting Meet and review agency list Updates team on best with senior management practices, model processes, Input from methodology districts/ Memorandum of regions Coordinates and facilitates understanding/partnering selection of model processes process/ and agreements for project incorporating model Select projects processes and agreements from agency project list Liaison hands over project management responsibilities to district project manager Yes and becomes part of project's virtual team Final project list District manages project and keeps liaison updated on project progress and issues Figure 4.3. Steps in coordinating projects. A number of steps are involved in the coordination of proj- 6. Communicates with the agency's districts and regions ects (Figure 4.3). First, the districts/regions prioritize their list and obtains concurrence; of projects that involve the railroad for the next 2 years and 7. Coordinates with the railroads and initiates discussion; provide the priority list to the liaison. The liaison then 8. Coordinates with all internal agency divisions and appro- priate person(s)/areas within the railroads to schedule 1. Reviews projects across all divisions and regions; discussions and meetings to get all necessary paperwork 2. Creates a combined 2-year list of projects; completed and appropriate agreements signed; 3. Synchronizes the 2-year list to ensure consistency with 9. Leads the initial coordination and start-up meetings for the goals of the agency; projects; 4. Obtains input from districts and divisions, prioritizes the 10. Provides an update and shares information about agency project list, and prepares for meeting with agency senior processes, best practices, and methodology with agency management; and railroad teams, as appropriate (this information shar- 5. Meets with appropriate level of agency senior manage- ing ensures consistency in practices across projects); ment and discusses and finalizes the list and the order of 11. Hands over project management lead responsibility to priority; districts/regions;

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55 12. Stays involved as a virtual project team member on the listed in the approval papers before entering the Norfolk projects; Southern property. 13. Keeps track of project progress and coordinates activities Although the railroads have created a position of public between divisions/regions, other offices within the agency, projects manager (PPM) who is responsible for coordinating and the railroads to resolve issues and keep the projects on all project activities between divisions and sections within the schedule, scope, and budget; railroad and the public agency, there are processes similar to 14. Attends relevant project meetings and assists with resolv- those listed above where interacting with the railroads does ing issues; not involve the PPM. The railroad PPM is likewise not the 15. Attends national conferences and communicates with one to contact for obtaining flagging services. Depending on other states to keep updated on new practices, processes, the type of project and the railroad involved, the processes methodologies, and other issues that can help improve vary. So, it is important for each agency to identify early in the agency project delivery; and process all appropriate communication protocols, processes, 16. Attends closeout meetings and culls new practices, pro- and contact persons for various aspects of the project, along cesses, and lessons learned and incorporates these into with their responsibilities and contact information. the agency knowledge base for use in future projects. Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to implement- ing this process: The communication processes vary, depending Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- on the type of project and the railroads involved. To keep proj- menting this process: The creation of the position or office of ects on schedule, the agency should identify all applicable liaison will require initiative and buy-in from the agency lead- processes and make them available to the project team. The ership team. Since the liaison will be required to work across processes may change periodically making it necessary for districts on the prioritization of projects and in the event of quick review and validation at the start of the project. This is any resource constraints, will need to have the authority to especially important if the project team members are new to make decisions, support for the position/office of the liaison the process or have not worked on similar projects with a par- ticular railroad. A lack of resources to devote to this task would from senior agency management is important. A possible con- be the primary constraint. straint could be the cost of funding such a position. Escalation Procedures Formal Communication and Information Sharing Having an escalation procedure for timely resolution of issues is common practice in the service industry. Delays in solving a In today's age of mass communication and e-mail overload, customer problem could lead to irreparable damage to a com- the balance between no communication and too much com- pany's name and to loss of customers and future business. To munication is extremely important. Effective communica- mitigate such issues, escalation procedures are integrated into tion involves communicating with the right person(s) and service industry operations. They help keep projects on track providing the right amount of information that has the right and expeditiously resolve issues or find solutions to customer level of detail. Ensuring that appropriate communication queries within a prespecified period. protocols are identified ahead of time and followed through Escalation procedures also are common in construction will facilitate partnering and keeping projects on track. The project partnering. Most construction partnering agreements information gathered by the SHRP 2 R16 project team include a clear path of different levels of escalation that should showed that, frequently, delays in obtaining timely reviews be pursued if decisions cannot be reached within a specified and feedback occurred in agencies where communication period. Likewise, the environmental streamlining guidance was informal. generally includes escalation procedures when front-line Railroads have procedures on who should be contacted staff at highway agencies and resource agencies cannot reach and what needs to be included in the communication pack- agreement. age for various services on projects. For instance, BNSF has Escalation procedures are sometimes perceived as a bad partnered with Staubach Global Services to provide all real practice of going above someone in the chain of command to estate services. Staubach processes all requests for permits achieve a resolution. However, there are circumstances when to access BNSF's property. The process for contacting and a project can come to a standstill without escalation in which communicating with Staubach is formal and is detailed on one cannot find fault with the participants. Examples include a website. Similarly, Norfolk Southern Corporation has the following: secured the services of DMJM Harris to process all right-of- entry applications. The process includes application pro- Limitation in technical expertise of the participants involved; cessing and approval. After approval is received, the agency Limitation in authority to approve changes to the project has to contact the approved Norfolk Southern designee scope, schedule, or budget;

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56 Need to add other resources to the project beyond the agency. Still, the PPMs are responsible for multiple states and authority of current participants; their busy schedules make it difficult for them to focus their Schedules of current participants may not permit timely attention on just one state's projects. The business model of resolution of issues; the railroad requires each division/section to be indepen- Legislative, policy, and other regulatory changes beyond dently profitable. The uncertainty in the number of projects, the charge or authority of participants involved; and in a project's proceeding beyond the preliminary engineering Need to get other internal and external parties involved in stage and getting completed, and the in the level of funding the decision. that will be available from the states makes it difficult for the railroads to add resources to the public project's area. Over Escalation procedures are effective if used constructively to the years, several state agencies have each funded a position deliver projects on time and within scope and budget. in the railroads dedicated to focusing and expediting the respec- The process suggested is a generalized version of the process tive agencies' projects. For example, WSDOT funds a position adopted by the Washington State Department of Transporta- in BNSF that tion (WSDOT). WSDOT has successfully used escalation pro- cedures to expedite agreement processing. Its formal escalation Expedites and coordinates reviews, approvals, and process- procedure to address issues related to agreement processing ing agreements; between its Environmental and Engineering Programs Divi- Manages BNSF's public agency construction and mainte- sion and BNSF, detailed in chapter 3 (see p. 35), can be consid- nance agreement process, including reviewing and distrib- ered a starting point for highway agencies and railroads, and it uting agreement documents and contract plans, securing can be changed to accommodate individual agency and rail- estimates of work to be done by BNSF, and performing other road circumstances, project types, needs, agreements, and orga- duties normally handled by the BNSF PPM; nizational structure. Schedules face-to-face meetings and manages other aspects Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- of coordination between WSDOT and BNSF to keep agency menting this process: The success of this strategy depends on projects that interact with or impact BNSF property within both the agency and the railroads agreeing to have managers schedule, budget, and scope; in the higher levels available for meetings and discussions to Signs and releases the agency project-related agreements, resolve issues expeditiously. approval letter, and regulatory petition (subject to BNSF rules governing delegation of authority and the responsibil- ities normally within the authority of the BNSF PPM); and Dedicated Railroad Person Keeps both parties informed about project status and issues, for Agency Projects expedites issue resolution, and submits monthly reports The railroads operate as a business; major areas of their focus detailing work performed in the previous month. are safety, growth, and profitability. Highway projects, how- ever, in a majority of cases, do not help the railroads. The responsibilities of both sides are detailed in an agreement. The organizational structure of the railroads is streamlined During interviews and discussions with both the railroads to do railroad projects. Typically, railroads have four major and the transportation agencies, participants said project delays divisions: transportation, engineering, mechanical, and mar- occurred on projects as a result of the time taken to get both keting. Often, depending on the type and complexity of the sides available for meetings to resolve issues. Sometimes the cost highway projects that involve the railroads, several, if not all, of such delays could be more than the cost of funding a position of these four divisions have some involvement with public with the railroad. Though the delays are often unavoidable, projects. Receiving and responding to communications and stopping project work can cost the agency thousands of dollars coordinating requests for input on projects and services from a day. multiple states, and sometimes from multiple persons within Since it may not be financially possible or politically pop- one state agency, can be time-consuming and often frustrat- ular for an agency to fund such a PPM position in the rail- ing for the railroad personnel. road, state agencies could adopt a hybrid version of the model To mitigate such issues and to streamline the process of adopted by WSDOT. This hybrid version would include the coordinating project requests and activities with the rail- following considerations: roads, most Class I railroads have created the position of the public projects manager (PPM). The PPM is responsi- Two or three adjacent states that work with the same rail- ble for coordinating all project activities between the rail- road collaborate on funding a position in the railroad road (including all its divisions and sections) and the public dedicated to addressing their needs.

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57 The dedicated railroad person could meet each of the managing projects with the railroads were more successful at collaborating/partnering states in rotation on an agreed identifying potential issues and getting them resolved early in schedule. the process. Agencies with more informal processes that often The collaboration makes it possible for more give-and-take revolved around using e-mail and calling the railroads on an between the partnering states. as-needed basis to discuss issues had more difficulty getting In case of serious issues requiring more attention in one timely responses. The delay in responding to on-the-spot calls state for a short period, the collaborating agency liaisons has been attributed to the busy schedules of the railroad proj- could negotiate temporary schedule changes. ect managers and the lack of clarity regarding the issue that The partnering states could collaborate on developing needed to be resolved. By adopting formal project manage- standard agreements, processes, and practices for arrange- ment processes, these issues can be improved. ments and workings between the agency and the railroad. Some recommended activities associated with project man- With a larger pool of resources to tap, the partnering state agement that can help expedite review and delivery of highway agencies could benefit from knowledge sharing. This projects are listed below. Each project will have its own nuances arrangement would also allow the railroad to focus more and will require the project manager to make adjustments effort on the agencies' projects. based on resource availability and staffing commitments. Some of the steps for effectively managing projects that Depending on the needs and circumstances of each partnering interact with or involve railroads include: agency, changes can be made to customize this model process. Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- Kick-off meeting. Having a virtual or face-to-face kick-off menting this process: Success of this strategy depends on adja- meeting at the start of each project is a recommended proj- cent states having projects with the same railroad. It will also ect management best practice. Considering the busy travel depend on the willingness of the states to collaborate. There schedules and large territories covered by the railroad PPMs, may be some challenges to collaborate on funding the position. this also initiates the process of getting both parties engaged The partnering agencies will have to spend some time initially and brings the project back into focus for both sides. to discuss and detail the working arrangements. However, all Participation management. Prior to the start of the project, the constraints appear surmountable. identify and clarify roles and responsibilities. This will make One process that is a result of having a dedicated person clear who does what and when and will make the manage- within the railroad is the WSDOTBNSF agreement process ment and delivery of the project more efficient. that is shown in Figure 3.1. The process ensures that all agree- Schedule management. Ensure that before the project ments between the agency and the railroad will be completed starts, the schedule of activities needed to successfully com- within 31 weeks of initiation. plete the project is agreed on or at least understood by both An enhancement of this model would be the inclusion of a parties. The schedule is monitored and managed carefully financial incentive for meeting the project duration goal. For and all changes are agreed on and reflected in the schedule. example, it is common practice for construction project The project schedule should be easily accessible to every- agreements to include financial incentives to the contractor one on the project. The project manager should keep for completing the project before a specified goal date and a everyone associated with the project informed about the penalty for delay beyond a specified date. A similar model activities, with special emphasis on those on the critical could be included in the agreement processing, where some path, and follow up on activities that have potential to get form of financial incentive can be included for agreements delayed or that are delayed. that are processed before the agreed duration is completed. Scheduled monthly or quarterly project-update meet- ings. A formal schedule for conducting meetings ensures Effective Project Management that time is allocated to the project. These meetings will vary in frequency, depending on the stage and complexity Bad project management can delay even a simple project, while of the project. The frequency of most project meetings the most complex and difficult project can be successfully build up to monthly and then reduce to quarterly or less completed within schedule, scope, and budget using effective frequently toward the end of the project. The project man- project management. Good project management can help ager can monitor the project progress and make changes to minimize stress, conflicts, contentious relationships, and sur- schedules as necessary. prises and smooth the working relationship between highway Detailed agenda for each meeting. Providing a detailed agencies and railroads. agenda ahead of time will ensure some level of preparation During the project team's visits and interviews with agen- by attendees prior to the meeting. It also keeps focus on cies they observed that agencies that had formal processes for important areas that need discussion and keeps the meeting

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58 on track. It helps the team resolve project issues and keeps everyone informed about decisions made on the project. Quality Tracking issues and assigning responsibility for resolu- assurance review tion. Anything that is measured and tracked is more likely preparation Monitor to get done, so issues and their effective resolution must be actions On-site identified early and deadline dates for resolution of issues review and follow-up on resolutions should be specified. The proj- ect manager should list and discuss all issues during meet- ings and assign responsibility for resolution of each issue to individuals or groups. Special emphasis should be given to the following areas: Postreview Disseminate Design standards; feedback information Safety and railroad operations; Develop Project review and schedule; and implement Resource allocation; actions Costs and billing; and Insurance. Meeting minutes. Meeting minutes must be promptly Figure 4.4. Steps in the continuous-improvement captured and shared with participants and those involved process. in making decisions. Informal discussions. The project manager should provide time and opportunity whenever possible for informal dis- identify innovations. The quality assurance reviews can serve as cussions. These allow participants to discuss and share con- an effective mechanism to build partnerships within the agency cerns and issues that they may otherwise be reluctant to and between the highway agency and the railroad. There are sev- discuss and help build trust and strengthen relationships. eral models for conducting QARs, and agencies can customize the models depending on their needs. The review cycle is gener- Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- ally conducted every alternate year. menting this process: There may be resource constraints that A simple model involves creating a quality assurance review make it difficult to assign agency resources to manage the proj- group (QARG) that will be responsible for conducting the ect during its early stages. In some cases, there may be some reviews. This group can be a virtual group that meets according upfront effort required to develop the project plan, schedule to a predetermined schedule to work on the QAR. The QAR meetings, and get the participation needed for the successful is conducted on districts and divisions that have worked on completion of the project. railroadhighway projects during the review cycle. The QAR consists of six major steps: Conducting Quality Assurance 1. Quality assurance preparation; Reviews and Feedback 2. On-site review; The quality improvement cycle shown in Figure 4.4 is an effec- 3. Postreview feedback; tive way of analyzing processes; identifying areas of improve- 4. Develop and implement improvement actions; ment; monitoring performance; devising action plans to 5. Disseminate information; and improve performance; and then revising goals, processes, and 6. Monitor actions. action plans to further improve performance. This cycle of continuous improvement not only helps improve processes Quality Assurance Preparation and practices but also helps knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer with new employees. The continuous-improvement The following actions are taken by the QARG in preparation cycle is inherent within the memorandum of understanding for the quality review: discussed earlier. The continuous-improvement principles have been incor- Select representative projects from each district and division, porated into the following model for a quality assurance review including projects in the stages of planning, preliminary de- process. Conducting quality assurance reviews (QARs) and velopment, and construction. providing feedback on practices, agreement processing, issue Review actions and plans implemented in previous review resolution, and other activities can improve performance and cycles.

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59 Highlight potential areas of excellence and areas of defi- The district/division and, where applicable, the rail- ciency for review during the site visit. roads review the feedback report and respond with their Communicate and schedule a date for each site visit. comments. On-Site Review Develop and Implement Improvement Actions The QARG meets with the district and division personnel In collaboration with individual districts/divisions and rail- to jointly review the processes and practices identified as roads, where applicable, the review team sets up action plans areas of excellence and areas of deficiency during the prepa- that address the areas of improvement. ration phase. This often involves a step-by-step review from The implementation plans have goals and deadlines for the start to the end of each process. If there is any impact on each action. the railroads or if action is required from them, they will The improvement action items are also reviewed in the next also be invited to these meetings. review cycle. The two teams (one consisting of the QARG and district and division personnel and the other of the railroad person- Disseminate Information nel) may jointly review new agreements from initiation to execution. The QARG either conducts one joint meeting with all the For the preliminary engineering and construction stages, districts/divisions and railroads that were part of the qual- the QARG, district and division personnel, and, if avail- ity review or conducts meetings with each district and each able, railroad personnel division and railroad as applicable, to share findings. Start with reviewing the steps involved with agreement At this meeting, the QARG will share initiation; The summary of all good practices and all areas of Review the planning and coordination processes used, excellence; looking at each process at various milestone points in the The areas of deficiencies and actions implemented to project life cycle--for example, at approximately 30%, address issues; 60%, and 90% of project development; and Practices to avoid; and Look at project management and other activities that Lessons learned. occur during the construction process, including day- to-day project activities; communication; process used Monitor Actions to manage schedule, cost; and scope; time taken to resolve issues, billing, insurance, and other similar activities that The QARG monitors the results of implemented actions could potentially delay a project. and provides guidance as necessary. For projects that are completed during the review cycle, The QARG conducts meetings to ensure that action plans the team are being implemented and the desired outcome is being Reviews postconstruction activities, such as postconstruc- achieved. tion meetings; Examines the lessons learned; and The above process provides the focus necessary for contin- Ensures that the lessons learned are incorporated into the uous improvement and facilitates sharing of knowledge and agency processes and that procedures are in place for best practices within the agency. Agencies can modify the incorporating future lessons learned. process, the review cycle and the timing of the reviews to meet During the review, the QARG validates areas of excellence their agency needs. and areas of improvement identified in the preparation Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- phase and creates a final list for follow-up. menting this process: There may be resource constraints that The QARG also checks to see if early coordination is being make it difficult to assign agency resources to conduct qual- done. ity assurance reviews. Postreview Feedback Central Project Repository After the review is completed, the QARG provides a written Locating information days or months after it is received is report back to each district and division and all railroads challenging. Having a central repository for all projects makes involved in the quality review, as applicable. The report pro- it easier to publish, post, retrieve, and review the latest proj- vides feedback on their performance, areas of excellence, ect information. Sending simple e-mails with links when and areas of deficiencies. new information is posted on the site can act as a trigger for

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60 the recipient to access the link and view the information. This base of projects that will be beneficial for all agency employees. also allows the participants to go to the repository link anytime This will reduce the time required for new employees to get later and access the information. The repository can be a sim- conversant on projects, practices, and other pertinent informa- ple file system on a server managed through permission con- tion as they start working on projects. The repository can be trols or it can be a simple application permitting access through implemented to facilitate consistency and sharing of practices a website. across projects. The most common practice for communication between A central repository has many useful functions. These the railroads and highway agencies currently is via e-mails, include the following: attaching documents to e-mails where necessary. The advan- tage of e-mail is that it can be accessed from anywhere using Projects and files can be logically organized. This will help mobile devices and is thus a quick way to communicate. On new personnel to navigate the file structure and find proj- the other hand, this convenience has led to the excessive use ect information. Staff turnover is a common problem. of e-mails, where it becomes difficult to sort through the giga- The repository can play an important role in knowledge bytes of e-mails and to distinguish the important e-mails from sharing and help train new personnel taking on project the unimportant. responsibilities. Agency staff and railroads have shared some of the chal- It allows access to files through e-mail links. Processes can be lenges and hurdles that new employees face because of a lack of implemented where employees can get alerts when new files formal transition of documents and training as they start work- are published to the repository or changes are made to proj- ing on projects. One agency staff member shared his challenge ect plans. The agency can also allow the railroad personnel, of having to sift through years of files and finally having to ask if given permission, to access the repository and download the railroads for information to help him get started on a proj- or review files via the links. ect. Another public agencyrailroad liaison explained how his It enables agency personnel to review both technical and predecessor had created a folder of several years of project doc- managerial information associated with older projects that uments that he handed over prior to his retirement. The files may be helpful to ongoing or new projects. were invaluable and helped with a quicker transition. The folder It makes it easy to access project information and docu- had years of project information, issues, and resolutions and ments at anytime in the life of the project. continues to be a valuable resource. It helps manage versions. It is easier to access the latest ver- The railroad public projects manager coordinates and directs sion of documents from a central repository instead of most of the communication between the public agency and having to search e-mails or to search within personal file the internal divisions/sections within the railroads. The PPMs folders to access versions of documents. normally forward documents received from the public agen- It reduces use of overall disk storage in the agency when all cies to others within the railroads and then responds back versions of documents are stored and accessed via the central to the public agencies using e-mails to forward documents repository. This eliminates the need for individual employ- reviewed and approved by the railroad personnel. Although ees to save attachments received in e-mails. convenient, the exclusive reliance on e-mails does not create It leaves a legacy of information on projects for future an institutional record of transmittals between the highway employees. The repository is a good place to access old agency and the railroad. agreements and information about processes, practices, In view of the current communication practices in the lessons learned, and issues encountered and how they were industry, the model process uses e-mails where appropriate, resolved. along with links to files on a central repository. The model pro- poses a central repository where all information associated Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- with projects that involve both road and rail is stored in a log- menting this process: Implementing a central repository requires ical fashion. Change management and version control proce- initial investment of time and resources. Agencies may have dures should be defined, shared with all users, and managed at many other priorities competing for resources and since a the project level by the project manager. This will ensure that mechanism of e-mails exists to serve the purpose, they may appropriate versions of pertinent documents for each project not give the design and implementation of a repository the are stored in the repository and access to the files/folders can priority necessary to make it successful. be managed and controlled. An agency can decide whether to give access to folders and files to a railroad depending on the Model Process for Design and Construction agency's business model. Even if access to the repository is pro- vided to agency personnel only, the agency will benefit both in Though this aspect has been covered in several other processes, cost savings on storage and access and by creating a knowledge a special focus is being given here to design and construction

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61 details because of the disproportionate attention they received basic legal provisions, which then can be incorporated by refer- throughout the project's interviews. Concerns for safety by the ence in subsequent projectspecific agreements. The list below railroads have triggered many discussions stemming from the details the types of provisions that can be included in the mas- highway agencies' construction phasing and design details ter agreement. The master agreement can address recurring deviating from the railroads' recommended standards. In non-project-specific issues, such as how to address standard order to address these concerns, the following process is provisions in construction contracts, insurance limits, person- recommended: nel training, and other issues universal to all projects or contrib- utory to the partnering process. A generic master agreement is Involve the railroads early in the project development provided in Appendix C. process. Another advantage of the master agreement is that it can be Where possible, in preparing project plans and designs, the legal vehicle to compensate the railroads for expenses that hire engineering firms that have experience working on improve the overall process but are not tied to individual proj- similar projects involving both roads and railroads. ects. Generally, if a project agreement is the only vehicle for Use design standards and processes approved by the rail- allowing payment, costs need to be associated with a specific roads. These are documented by each railroad. project. This payment limitation can inhibit the railroads Get sign-off from the railroads as the project proceeds from providing engineering advice on general practices, which through the planning, design, and construction process. may be necessary to enhance the overall partnering process. If Make sure to have frequent and constant communication the master agreement includes provisions for the payment of with the railroad throughout the project development pro- general advice, then those provisions can be the basis for the cess, including at 30%, 60%, and 90% plan completion. railroads to participate in a wider range of interactions in the Identify, closely manage, and resolve issues, and monitor partnering process. progress on The following are typical master agreement provisions: Complex design and related issues; Changed design standards; Parties agree to authorize preliminary engineering (PE) Safety standards; and within 30 days of notification of the railroad. Construction issues that require special modification. No contractors or department employees can proceed with- out written approval from the railroad. Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- Railroad will provide right-of-entry for PE and construction menting this process: The railroads have great concerns about activities, with due notice. changes to standard designs or construction methods, so it Department agrees to select consultants experienced with is important for the agency to make sure that staff and con- specific railroad. sultants working on projects are trained in railroad design. Department will ensure that insurance provisions will be It is also important to get the railroads involved and com- met by contractor. fortable with the design early in the project development Railroad will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate process. contractors. Parties recognize that it is in the interest of taxpayers and shareholders that both entities economize. Model Agreements Railroad agrees to 60-day reviews of PE submittals. Public agencies are required to have a contract in order to make Department will provide 30 days' notice of flagging needs. payments to other entities. Therefore, contracts must be exe- Railroad will make all reasonable attempts to provide cuted before highway agencies can compensate railroads for flagging. preliminary engineering reviews, flagging services, easements, Railroad will specify operating envelope and construction and other expenses relating to highway railroad projects. windows. Agreements for such payments lend themselves to standardiza- Both want safe, efficient highway and railroad operations. tion because of the similar issues that they repeatedly address. Railroad agrees to keep thorough records for invoicing of The use of standard agreements for many types of projects has PE expenses. been common for a number of years. Interviews with highway Plans affecting railroad will require approved safety train- agencies revealed that they commonly reuse, with slight mod- ing for contractors. ifications, past contracts that have been earlier agreed to by A separate right-of-way agreement will be developed if both parties. needed. An innovation in the use of standard agreements is the devel- Parties recognize that a master agreement is needed to opment of an overall master agreement that incorporates many standardize the legal review process.

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62 Department agrees to 30-day prompt payment of complete Analysis and discussion of practices, processes, and docu- invoices. ments that delayed or hindered the project. All plans will require preconstruction meeting to be offered Discussion of practices, processes, and documents that to railroad. need to be revised. A postconstruction meeting will be offered to railroad. Identification and resolution of possible billing and reim- Preliminary engineering is defined. bursement issues. Both parties will agree to standard PE rate schedule. Identification of changes that need to be made to All plans will note the railroad's control of the project site Any agreement; and its ability to direct the contractor in issues relating to Other legal processes; safety and train operations. Bill processing; Separate project agreement will address maintenance Reimbursements; agreement. Project management processes; Both parties agree to develop a standard PE agreement. Any aspect of insurance; and Both parties agree to abide by Title 23 eligibility. Other aspects of the project. All plans will note that the contractor will abide by all rail- road utility and right-of-way agreements. This feedback process will allow the agency to make refine- Thirty days' notice will be given railroad for maintenance ments to the existing approach and agreements to benefit right-of-entry needs. future projects. Department agrees to give timely notice of intention to Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- develop a project. menting this process: None, except for the staff and travel time PE approval does not constitute project approval or par- involved. ticipation. Plans will note that railroad has the right to inspect and approve all work affecting railroad. Annual Meetings Railroad will keep and provide auditable, complete records. Irrespective of the type or complexity of the projects, there is The parties will indemnify the other for individual negli- general agreement that conducting annual meetings with par- gent liability and will share joint liability. ticipation from both the railroads and the highway agencies Department will attempt 30-day prompt payment of railroad will help build partnerships. State transportation agencies such expenses. as the Pennsylvania and Iowa DOTs that conduct annual meetings and the railroads that participate in them, give such Legal, financial, institutional, or other constraints to imple- annual meetings high marks. menting this process: There appear to be no legal or financial Pennsylvania invites a mix of different people, thus provid- constraints to the process of developing a master agreement. The provisions of the master agreement are not new in that they ing a forum for exchange of information and an opportunity have been included in the individual project agreements. There to brainstorm and to network. Invitees include central office may be institutional constraints to developing a master agree- and district personnel and attorneys from the state. Railroads ment. These constraints could consist of the time involved for bring representatives from various levels of their manage- staff attorneys to negotiate a master agreement and of institu- ment, including their attorney, public projects manager, and tional inertia regarding developing a new process. director of public works. They also bring to the meeting rep- resentatives from engineering firms that work with them on highway agency projects. Scheduled Project Closeout Meetings The Iowa DOT invites to the meeting similar representatives Another best practice is the conduct of closeout meetings as well as railroad staff working on current projects and those after complex or major construction projects to share prac- who are expected to work on the following year's projects. tices that helped the project and to compile lessons learned. The idea of such a meeting is to discuss big-picture issues This should be a forum where both sides can share candidly and to work toward establishing a common understanding of their experience about the project and about the practices, important areas, and then to agree on the mechanisms and processes, and aspects of agreements they recommend be processes to ensure successful execution of projects. retained and those that should be eliminated or changed. Areas A high-level checklist of items to be considered at the annual for discussion could include the following: meeting includes the following: Identification of processes and practices that expedited and Share communication protocols and contact information of helped the successful delivery of the project. personnel from both sides, particularly for new members.