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71 and the railroad under their partnering framework, and the best practices and to identify common initiatives that would review of the 30% plan submittal as part of the environ- benefit the process. mental process, the basic design parameters should have been agreed to before the bidding process. The contractor These needed activities have parallels in many professional- will need to coordinate the details of Stage 2 and Stage 3 development or trade association activities. The following design details with the railroad. It will be incumbent on the examples are explored below: highway agency, the railroad, and the contractor's design- ers to conduct regular coordination calls. (It should be · Joint funding of a website or repository by the involved noted that in design-build projects, the contractor will not parties; be producing complete Stage 2 and Stage 3 plans. However, · Developing a subcommittee within AASHTO; the contractor will be addressing the types of design details · Creating a subcommittee or task force within the Trans- that generally are in Stage 2 and Stage 3 plans. It is those portation Research Board; details that need to be coordinated.) · Creating a new nonprofit organization funded by all parties devoted to supporting this process; · Seeking government funding to create a unit within a uni- Sustaining Best Practices versity devoted to supporting this process; and Model Processes · Creating a staff position or office within a federal agency to This report illustrates the best practices and model agreements sustain the efforts; used nationally to streamline the railroadhighway agreement · Creating a joint committee or group from AASHTO, AAR, process and to encourage partnering between highway agencies AREMA, and the involved federal agencies; and · Relying on voluntary activities of the involved parties to and railroads. This section examines several potential means to sustain and update these model agreements and practices host meetings, distribute materials, and create a repository beyond the period of this research project. of documents. Create a Best Practices Repository Necessary Activities to Sustain Agreements Throughout the interviews for this project, stakeholders were The activities necessary to sustain and update model agree- asked if a central repository of best-practice materials would ments and practices would include the following at a minimum: be useful. Universally, they agreed that it would. The types of materials that have been gathered for this · Creating a virtual library, website, or other repository of project and that could be assembled into a virtual, online various project agreements, contracts, standard drawings, repository to benefit the practitioners includes the following: provisions, presentations, and related materials that sup- port the development of model agreements and practices. · Current links to each of the websites hosted by the Class I · Developing a means to refresh and update these materials railroads that are devoted to providing the railroads' indi- in ways such as vidual draft agreements, standard drawings, permits, man- · Updating internet addresses to links; uals, standard construction provisions, and other materials. · Removing outdated materials; and Each state and local highway agency probably is familiar · Posting new standards and requirements. with these websites for the railroads with which they rou- · Creating actual or virtual ongoing communication between tinely work. However, convenient access to other railroads' the state and local highway agencies and the railroads to sites provides them broader examples of best practices that continually share new best practices, problems, solutions, they could pursue. and innovations to the agreement process. · Other resource documents, such as the final report of this · Sustaining dialogue between state and local officials and their effort, railroad agreement manuals from the various states, railroad counterparts with other governmental stakeholders materials from related NHI courses, sample partnering such as the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal agreements, and links to related sites such as the Project Railroad Administration, possibly the Surface Transporta- Management Institute, which promote best practices in tion Board, and often state utility commissions in those states project delivery. in which commissions play a role in the agreement process. · Access to ongoing dialogue between practitioners. This · Bringing together periodically in a formal, facilitated dialogue could be in the form of posting of online ques- forum--either in person or virtually--a cross section of tions and responses, frequently asked questions, posting of practitioners from the state and local agencies, the rail- presentations, and other information that give a practi- roads, and the utility commissions to exchange ideas and tioner access to current thinking within the field.
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72 · Links to federal regulations that frequently influence the adopting common accounting standards for federal reim- process. These links could be to federal statutes, the Code bursement of design work, and in general keeping one another of Federal Regulations, accounting standards in the Federal apprised of the other's position on common issues. Acquisition Regulation, policies of FHWA and FRA, and Such dialogue between multiple groups is necessary to sus- other sources. Again, all these sources currently can be found tain innovation in the highwayrailroad agreement process. on the web. However, they are not assembled in one web- The parties of highway agencies, railroads, engineering firms, site for convenient access. and federal officials need a means and forum to continue dialogue. It is beyond the scope of this task to prepare a formal esti- Closely analogous to the highwayrailroad agreement mate of cost or level of effort for such a resource. It is safe to process is the process by which states acquire rights-of-way assume that at least one person's effort for 6 months would and relocate utilities necessary to construct highway projects. be necessary to develop such a site. Then several months of In the right-of-way and utility process, the highway agencies effort annually would be necessary to sustain such a site. Such work within federal statutes to acquire the property, services, sites quickly can become obsolete as elements change, such as and cooperation of outside entities, either property owners or URLs, new federal regulations, updated manuals and so forth. utility companies. The right-of-way and utility process can be Within a year or less, such a site could have substantial out- a common source of concern among highway project man- of-date materials if not continually updated. In addition, the agers because of its ability to significantly delay projects or costs of hosting the site on a robust server must be covered. increase their cost. There are many such sites covering virtually every profes- The AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and sional field. They often are funded by trade associations, Utilities addresses functions of collaboration and process joint efforts by interested parties, federal grants, university improvement similar to the best practices described regard- research institutes, and other professional bodies. Such a site ing the railroadhighway agreement process. The mission for railroadhighway agreements would be congruent with of the Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities says current professional practice and with the suggestions offered in part: by stakeholders interviewed for this project. The subcommittee shall review the laws and regulations of the Federal Government, member states and territories per- Form an AASHTO Subcommittee taining to public acquisition and management of real property The American Association of State Highway and Transporta- for transportation related purposes. The subcommittee will tion Officials has approximately 42 committees and subcom- review issues related to the placement of utilities on highway rights-of-way. It shall provide a forum for the exchange of mittees. These cover a diverse array of professional activities, experiences, innovations and best practices; and will recom- from the Standing Committee on Highways with its 16 sub- mend such laws, rules, regulations, and procedures so as to committees to the Standing Committee on Planning, the improve the quality and efficiency of Right of Way and Utility Standing Committee on Rail Transportation, and the Standing operating practices. . . . Committee on Public Transportation. In addition, AASHTO The subcommittee may establish liaison relationships with has two joint committees with outside industry groups, the appropriate offices of the Federal Highway Administration and AASHTO Joint Committee with the Associated General Con- such other entities having a role and responsibility in the area of tractors and the American Road and Transportation Builders Right of Way and Utilities. (emphasis added) Association and the AASHTO Joint Committee with the Amer- ican Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). Establishing an AASHTO Subcommittee on Railroad These various committees facilitate dialogue with outside Highway Institutional Mitigation or a Subcommittee on Rail- entities in two primary ways. First, many of the committees road Coordination could be a means to sustain continuous and subcommittees invite private-sector or other public- improvement in the railroadhighway agreement process. First, sector groups to attend their meetings and to help them it would create a structure with members, a mission, duties, develop new standards, specifications, and procedures. For and resources that could be devoted to the topic of improving instance, representatives of roadway and bridge design firms the railroadhighway agreement process. Second, AASHTO attend meetings of the Subcommittee on Design or the Sub- provides to its committees and subcommittees staff support. committee on Bridges and Structures. Through their atten- These staff become quite knowledgeable about the subject dance, the professional engineering firms keep abreast of matter and help disseminate information to new members as changing standards and participate in groups to develop the state members change through turnover in the state depart- standards. Likewise, in the joint AASHTO-ACEC commit- ments. Third, the committees and subcommittees often invite tee, the organizations collaborate on supporting legislation, their counterparts from the Federal Highway Administration,
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73 the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit · Stimulating research by developing and publishing research Administration, or other agencies with which they regularly problem statements, issuing calls for papers, submitting interact to meetings, which provide formal and informal research problem statements to the NCHRP and TCRP, opportunities for state and federal cooperation. Fourth, the and defining and publishing critical issues and research private sector participants are often invited. In the case of this needs; suggested committee, the public projects managers of the · Keeping the transportation community apprised of recent Class I railroads and short lines could be invited to participate. and ongoing research through sessions at TRB annual meet- This participation ensures opportunity for dialogue. Fifth, ings, specialty conferences and workshops, committee these committees often publish best-practice documents and meetings, informal networking, responses to requests for sponsor federally funded transportation research into best information, and referrals to other experts; practices, standards, and specifications. Sixth, these commit- · Synthesizing and disseminating research results through tees and subcommittees often post information on AASHTO sponsorship of workshops and conferences, compilation websites, which provide a means for further dissemination of of bibliographies, and publication of compendiums of best practices and standards. research papers and state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice Creating such an AASHTO subcommittee would face sev- reports; eral hurdles. First, it increases costs to AASHTO, which must · Reviewing and recommending research papers for publi- be covered through membership dues, the sale of AASHTO cation by TRB and for TRB-sponsored awards; products, or other revenue sources. Second, AASHTO's mem- · Cosponsoring special activities and providing liaison with bers are increasingly challenged to be allowed to travel to out- other transportation-oriented agencies in the United States of-state meetings because of tight state budgets. In its recent and in other countries; and strategic plan, AASHTO identified lack of travel as a major · Encouraging participation in TRB by students and profes- impediment to ongoing collaboration and committee func- sionals entering the transportation field. tioning. Third, strong support for such a subcommittee would have to be generated by the AASHTO board of directors, who The TRB Technical Activities Leadership Guide says that are the same members who have noted their inability to allow subcommittees are less formal than standing committees out-of-state staff travel. Accommodating the cost of such a or task forces. A subcommittee may be formed by a standing group would have to be addressed, in all likelihood, to gener- committee to address one or more specific aspects of a com- ate the board of directors' support. mittee's work. A joint subcommittee may be formed by mul- One possible option is to maximize the conduct of virtual tiple committees to address one or more areas of common meetings of this hypothetical new subcommittee. AASHTO's interest among the committees. Joint subcommittees can be strategic plan anticipates the expanded use of web-enabled useful in addressing areas that cut across multiple commit- conference calls, webinars, websites, and other virtual means tees, sections, and groups. Subcommittee appointments are to create ongoing dialogue and exchange of information for for the period necessary to complete the assignment. All sub- training, development of standards, and other forms of pro- committees should be discharged when they have completed fessional development. their assignments. A TRB task force addresses either a specific, well-defined problem or a task that encompasses the scope of more than Create a TRB Group one unit. A task force may be proposed by several organiza- Similar to the formation of an AASHTO group would be the tions within the TRB hierarchy. Criteria for considering the formation of a committee, subcommittee, or task force within formation of a task force include the following: the Transportation Research Board. TRB has more than 200 committees and task forces involving more than 4,000 trans- · Clarity of scope and task (a specific and concise description portation professionals. These groups exist to advance the state is needed that clearly defines the scope and task of the pro- of the practice in transportation. The committees address many posed task force); issues comparable to the highwayrailroad agreement process. · Evidence of need, demand, and potential accomplishment; For instance, there is a Committee on Utilities, which is con- · Evidence of uniqueness; and cerned with the interrelationships between transportation sys- · Clear indication of planned activities. tems and utilities, including the accommodation of utilities in transportation corridors and rights-of-way. Creating a com- However, as with AASHTO subcommittees, TRB groups mittee, subcommittee, or task group would provide a forum also face the challenge of finding sponsorship, generating for ongoing research, publication, and cooperation. The roles support, and sustaining a commitment from volunteers that of committees are: they will be able to secure travel approval to attend meetings.
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74 Create a Federal Office issues, although from different institutional perspectives. Like- wise, it is conceivable that if interest were strong enough, The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad highway agencies and the railroads could contribute dues to Administration have dozens of individual offices devoted to create an organization to sustain improvements in the proj- improving transportation practices or conditions on the trans- ect agreement process and to periodically bring all parties portation system. Creating an office to oversee and improve together in conferences and forums. the highwayrailroad coordination process would be a possi- The impediments to such an organization are primarily in bility to consider. The creation of such an office would create three areas. First, it would take active leadership from some a strong focus, provide official sanction to the improvement unidentified segment of the highway community or railroads process, provide resources such as staff and websites, and gen- to organize such an undertaking. Secondly, the same con- erate a means to nationally distribute best practices and model straints on funding and travel that would impede participa- agreements. tion in an AASHTO subcommittee or TRB committee would The hurdles, however, are considerable. The primary hur- face the members of such a publicprivate group as they con- dle is the cost of creating a new federal office during a time of sider membership dues and costs of conferences. Third, the considerable constraint in transportation receipts and enor- legal issues of who would be the officers of such a formal non- mous demands on transportation budgets. The highway trust profit organization and how they would manage its ongoing fund is facing a deficit and lacks a long-term source of rev- operations are unclear. It is unlikely that state agencies would enue to sustain authorized expenditure levels. Creating a new be able to commit to the long-term payment of dues or to federal office in the current fiscal climate probably would be participating in fiduciary management of an outside group. difficult. One of the impediments of the railroad-agreement process today is the ongoing turnover among the agency participants. Form a Community of Interest or Association It is uncertain how board members and officers for a perma- nent body could be found. A potential solution that requires no formal approval by a national organization or federal agency is the creation of a joint committee, "community of interest," or nonprofit associa- Create a Joint Industry Committee tion between motivated highway agencies and railroads to A variation on these options is to create a joint committee voluntarily meet, share best practices, and distribute model of members from the involved associations. AASHTO, the processes. Such an effort is likely to capture the interest of the Association of American Railroads, and the American Rail- most motivated members of highway agencies and railroads way Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association all who seek to improve the agreement process. have members who are interested in expediting the project Such communities of interest sometimes form associations agreement process. Each of the three organizations has com- that are supported by dues from members. One analogous mittees and joint committees. They could form a joint com- group is the North American Rail Shippers Association, which mittee that meets periodically to advance the state of practice lists the following as its objectives: in this field. All three have access to websites that could host materials relevant to the processes. · To provide a common meeting ground between rail own- The advantages of this option are that it could be accom- ers, vendors, and users to establish transportation require- plished by the three organizations without need of approval ments and ensure a smooth transition from the present era by a federal agency or by TRB. The disadvantages are that it to the future in the rail industry. faces all the same limitations on travel as the AASHTO sub- · To promote operating efficiency in the handling of rail committees or TRB committees. It also would rely on consid- equipment. erable effort by volunteers. · To give the shipping public a direct voice in the activities of the railroads on matters of mutual concern. Create an Academic Institute · To provide educational forums and seminars for the pur- pose of establishing and maintaining an understanding of Within U.S. colleges and universities are hundreds of institutes shipper and receiver requirements and carrier innovations. devoted to the advancement of, and research in, a large num- · To offer continuing-education programs designed to im- ber of disciplines. In the transportation sector alone are insti- prove individual business and professional skills. tutes in the areas of construction management, transportation planning, congestion analysis, pavement preservation, and The North American Rail Shippers Association brings highway safety. Many of these organizations are jointly funded together rail shippers with the railroads to address common by the universities, private-sector trade associations, the federal