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Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming (2019)

Chapter: Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
×
Page 170
Page 171
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A - Implementation of Research Findings and Products." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25680.
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Page 172

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165 A P P E N D I X A Implementation of Research Findings and Products The findings of the guidebook can be implemented by agencies through incremental incorporation of recommended methods and tools or through the development of formal right- sizing policies in transportation agencies. While the guidebook itself has a strong focus on implementation strategies and success factors, this appendix calls out some important success factors for implementation of the research, as well as suggested institutions to lead the application of findings, issues affecting implementation, and methods for identifying and measuring impacts of implementation. Recommendations for Putting Findings into Practice Agencies may implement the findings of the guidebook by two principal approaches. The approaches are (1) incremental use of selected methods and tools in specific business processes or in the management of specific asset classes or programs and (2) development of agency-wide (or division-wide) right-sizing policies. The approaches are not mutually exclusive and may represent either alternative or complementary ways to utilize the research. Right-Sizing Policies Chapter 2 of the guidebook focuses on right-sizing policies that can be developed at the agency level. Such policies can also be applied at the district or division level, depending on the locus of investment decision making in an agency. Effectively any entity or sub-entity that has sufficient planning and programming authority to allocate resources and evaluate performance can implement a right-sizing policy. Chapter 2 is recommended as the starting place for “top-down” policy implementation. Implementation of right-sizing policies is recommended in the guidebook, because such policies can define the scope and progressive growth of a right-sizing effort over time. Beginning at the policy level, right-sizing enables an agency to define the scope and objectives of its right-sizing activity, giving authority, purpose, and meaning to the use of the methods and tools described in Chapter 4. Implementation at the policy level is envisioned to be undertaken either at the executive (deputy secretary and above) levels, or at the managerial levels, and the guidance of Chapter 2 is written to such levels.

166 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming specific processes, in which applying a right-sizing method or tool may yield information that supports needs assessments and planning or programming decisions in the absence of any other policy. Furthermore, when agency staff are scoping corridor studies, special studies, small area plans, or other efforts for consultants or other partners, they may wish to call for the application of selected methods shown in Chapter 4 within the broader scope of such efforts. Therefore, some aspects of right-sizing and the methods in the guidebook can be selectively included in studies and planning efforts that may not otherwise be part of a formal right-sizing policy. The methods and tools are designed to offer “stand-alone” value in this regard, by answering practical questions that arise in agency decision making. Selective/Incremental Implementation of Partnerships As with the technical methods emphasized in Chapter 4, agencies without formal right-sizing policies may also benefit from engaging in right-sizing partnerships to address particular areas or problems. These partnerships are described in detail in the partnerships section of Chapter 2 in the guidebook. Just as technical staff may directly apply the methods described in Chapter 4, agency executives or senior managers may follow the guidance on right-sizing partnerships to formulate right-sizing objectives and scopes for strategic inter-governmental agreements or initiatives aimed at particular right-sizing problems. As with the methods and tools, the guidance for right-sizing partnership is designed to provide “stand-alone” value by enabling agencies to apply right-sizing principles together with allied agencies or other potential partners (e.g., the private sector or non-governmental institutions) who share an interest in improving the efficiency of the asset portfolio over time. Institutions to Lead Application of Findings Because agencies have not historically had “right-sizing” policies per se, it is expected that some degree of education and field-testing of the methods and tools presented in the guidebook will be necessary. Support will also be needed to ensure consistent application and progress in the state of right-sizing practices across different states in the long term as federal requirements, technology, and economic conditions evolve. For this reason, in addition to state DOTs and MPOs implementing the guidebook directly, institutions positioned to facilitate the ongoing application of research findings include the Transportation Research Board (TRB); the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); collaborative national efforts of TRB, AASHTO, and other partners; and universities and applied research centers. Selective/Incremental Implementation of Technical Methods While the implementation of a right-sizing policy is the ideal approach, practitioners at the technical level can also use the guidebook in the absence of an overarching right-sizing policy. Planners, engineers, analysts, and consultants can use Chapter 3 of the guidebook to pinpoint

Implementation of Research Findings and Products 167 innovations both at the TRB annual meeting and in the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Finally, it is likely that the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) may wish to consider companion and complementary research on right-sizing of transit assets to more fully elucidate how programmatic right-sizing principles relate to the role of transit, especially with the advent of micro-transit and potentially autonomous routes. The last section of this appendix includes the scope of a potential effort that could be implemented by TRB to carry forward the research findings into application. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials AASHTO has a role in supporting implementation through presentation of key findings, especially for executives at the policy level at AASHTO’s regular meetings, as well as through AASHTO’s regional affiliates. AASHTO may also support development of primers on right-sizing and educational webinars for agencies undertaking right-sizing as an investment strategy. Collaborative National Efforts AASHTO and TRB are part of a larger national community (which also includes groups like Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations [AMPO], National Association of City Transportation Officials, American Planning Association, as well as other organizational and government partners) with a national perspective across all of the states. National organizations have missions pertaining to safeguarding the nation’s investment in its transportation infrastructure through establishing financial and technical practices for, and in collaboration with, national, state, and local government practitioners. Such organizations align with an interest in the proper implementation of right-sizing policies and tactics. Collaborative efforts between national organizations and the government practitioners they represent and serve can offer the opportunity to ensure that right-sizing policies are reasonably consistent, that lessons learned in one state are available to other states, and that interpretations and applications of right-sizing techniques are consistent with wider policy requirements. For these reasons, any transportation organization operating at the national level is suited to support implementation of the right-sizing research through pilot studies, workshops, and the further refinement of the tools and methods initiated in the guidebook. In particular, collaborative national initiatives of allied organizations may support implementation by (1) Sponsoring pilot studies that link travel demand, asset management, and economic models to identify investments most susceptible to uncertainty in ROI due to technological and economic shifts (building on the sections in Chapter 2 on DOT-initiated right-sizing and on integrating uncertainty). Transportation Research Board TRB’s research program (and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program [NCHRP]) can have a role in supporting implementation of right-sizing through potential sponsorship of pilot projects with selected transportation agencies and special workshops and events to educate key executives, managers, and technical staff about the guidebook and its associated resources. TRB also may have a role in facilitating peer exchanges for agencies to share approaches for implementing right-sizing and lessons learned from early adoption of the guidebook’s recommendations. In addition, TRB committees can support implementation by issuing calls for papers to support documentation and sharing of right-sizing implementation efforts and

168 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming programs that integrate economics with asset management and travel demand information. Refer to Sections 2.3 and 2.4 on DOT-initiated right-sizing and integrating uncertainty. (3) Development of a curriculum and training materials for the capacity-building recommendations made in the guidebook (building on capacity building in Section 2.4). (4) Supplementing the right-sizing toolkit with research to develop additional methods (considered in the technical workshop of the right-sizing project but not included in the toolkit) for analyzing transportation networks to address right-sizing needs such as a. Demonstrating the comparative diminishing marginal returns for different modal elements of multimodal networks to pinpoint which elements in a transportation system will most likely benefit from additional capacity. b. Performance measures and mapping of transportation networks to stratify and demonstrate the relative level of local versus state versus national economic activity served by any given transportation facility (or roadway segment) per dollar of life-cycle cost, taking into account trip lengths, points of access, and value of activities served. i. Use of “big-data” resources to associate network facilities with underlying origin–destination and economic activity patterns served. ii. Development of efficient thresholds against which to compare the economic activity served by existing or proposed facilities (stratified by area type and facility type to safeguard rural areas or sparse networks). Universities and Applied Research Centers Universities and applied research centers have a role in supporting right-sizing implementation by (1) Teaching right-sizing to include elements of the right-sizing guidebook in transportation planning, policy, and engineering curricula in graduate and undergraduate programs. (2) Offering mini-courses on right-sizing concepts and methods through their extension and outreach programs. (3) Partnering with transportation agencies to develop right-sizing capacity-building curricula. Issues Affecting Implementation There are likely to be challenges for agencies seeking to implement the right-sizing guidebook. The following is a brief summary of the challenges and likely remedies. (2) Establishment of consistent and publicly available tools based on the guidebook’s recommendation can greatly facilitate state and MPO right-sizing initiatives. The national planning and engineering community can greatly support right-sizing efforts by promoting the refurbishment or replacement of publicly available tools like Highway Economic Requirements System State Version (HERS-ST) and the National Bridge Investment Analysis System that address the variability in transportation needs due to technological and macro-economic assumptions. The national planning and engineering community can greatly support right-sizing efforts by also promoting the creation of other similar

Implementation of Research Findings and Products 169 Equating Right-Sizing with Disinvestment Lack of Internal Capacity or Authority Implementation of right-sizing policies or tactics will be challenged by the fact that agencies are not accustomed to viewing their assets in business terms or engaging in the types of relationships and transactions right-sizing entails. The capacity-building section of Chapter 2 largely addresses this concern. However, in addition to capacity building, in some cases legislative remedies may be needed to empower transportation agencies to enter into certain types of agreements or transactions involving the right-sizing or sharing of transportation assets. It is recommended that subsequent NCHRP research may focus on legal constraints and remedies for agencies undertaking joint projects, value capture, or new types of jurisdictional transfer or sharing arrangements within the context of right-sizing. Political Risk There is implicit political risk in shifting from an investment paradigm of “always adding or keeping” assets to “potentially exchanging or relinquishing” assets. A right-sizing paradigm rearranges the board in terms of perceived “winners” and “losers” of transportation investment. The likely remedy to this (as discussed in the guidebook) is the incremental adoption of right- There is also risk that as there is a growing body of both NCHRP and FHWA research on disinvestment, right-sizing may come to be understood as simply code for disinvestment. While both the guidebook and its supporting research in the contractor’s report acknowledge jurisdictional transfer, relaxation of standards, and other strategic disinvestment options as integral to right-sizing strategies, right-sizing is offered primarily as an alternative to the type of passive disinvestment that has led to deficiencies in the past. NCHRP Synthesis 480: Economic and Development Implications of Transportation Disinvestment includes explicit treatment of the disinvestment problem and points to the need for proactive alternative investment strategies in the face of revenue shortfalls and funding uncertainty (Duncan and Weisbrod 2015). The right- sizing guidebook is offered largely in support of such alternative strategies. For this reason, presentations and capacity-building efforts related to right-sizing are recommended to draw on this synthesis report to convey clearly how right-sizing relates to disinvestment and how it is intended to prevent, not bring about, passive disinvestment and the associated deficiencies that passive disinvestment brings. Because the term right-sizing has been used to refer to everything from staff lay-offs to performance-based practical design, it is likely that practitioners may think of any application of context sensitive solutions, asset management, or practical design as right-sizing. In the first chapter (Figure 1), the guidebook provides a solution to this issue by making explicit the distinct objectives and decisions that demarcate right-sizing as an investment strategy. While a right- sizing strategy may entail performance-based practical design, context sensitive solutions, and the use of asset management systems, road diets, and other tactics, right-sizing is an over- arching investment strategy that uses these tactics to achieve a unified efficiency objective. The mere application of context-sensitive solution guidelines is no more a right-sizing policy than the competence to undertake a pavement chip-seal is an asset management program. Including the clear demarcation of the right-sizing concept in accordance with Chapter 1 is therefore essential to education and capacity-building efforts for implementing the research. Confusion of Right-Sizing with Other Concepts

170 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Methods of Identifying and Measuring Impacts of Implementation Key methods for identifying and measuring impacts of implementation include enlisting implementing agencies in self-reporting over time and possibly engaging in follow-up studies after agencies have implemented the research for a number of years. The guidebook does not specify methods for tracking and measuring implementation outcomes; however, the topic is ripe for subsequent research by FHWA or NCHRP. Some internal metrics that agencies may consider using to track their progress on an annual, 2-year, or 5-year basis include (1) Percentage of the agency’s outlays per asset that are subject to some type of right-sizing methodology or process; (2) Percentage of the agency’s assets that are subject to some type of right-sizing methodology or process; (3) Trend in outlays per asset since implementation of right-sizing initiatives such as dollars per lane mile, dollars per bridge, or dollars per ton of port capacity, possibly stratified by functional classifications and volume groups; (4) Trend in outlays per measure of system utilization (e.g., trips, vehicles, passengers, or ton-miles of travel) by program leading up to and following right-sizing implementation; (5) Case reports of economic development initiatives, land use changes, or changes in property value measured by regional or municipal partners following right-sizing initiatives; and (6) Changes in performance outcomes relative to performance-based planning targets before versus after right-sizing implementation for a given program (and unit per dollar of progress toward or from performance targets since right-sizing implementation). In addition to internal tracking of right-sizing outcomes, processes such as peer exchanges, bottom-line reports from AASHTO or NCHRP, and other entities may inquire about the extent of right-sizing activity in agencies in relation to trends in performance, investment gaps, and economic impact over time. sizing, beginning with less controversial programs or asset classes and then focusing on safer clear “win-win” agreements in early implementation. Furthermore, incorporating non-government institutions in right-sizing partnerships can play a key role in overcoming this challenge by providing a trusted and consistent voice regarding the efficient and productive use of resources (as described in the section on establishing partnerships that survive political shifts). Right-Sizing Implementation Plan Approach and Scope Background NCHRP Project 19-14: Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: Methods for Planning and Programming has identified significant opportunities for transportation agencies to implement right-sizing initiatives at different levels to align the funding, ownership, management, and performance of transportation infrastructure portfolios with economic conditions. The research underlying the guidebook has extensively involved DOTs from throughout the United States, as well as MPOs, cities, and other entities.

Implementation of Research Findings and Products 171 The guidebook offers a framework for both the incremental development and implementation of right-sizing policies in transportation agencies and a variety of practical methods that agencies can include in their existing business processes to bring right-sizing objectives and opportunities into agency investment decisions. The guidebook offers specific recommendations for how to implement right-sizing techniques in existing DOT business processes, as well as guidance for some policies specific to right-sizing. These policies may include forming right-sizing coalitions, considering externally initiated right- sizing proposals from stakeholders, creating a right-sizing policy board or task force, or implementing a right-sizing capacity building initiative. Table 37 summarizes those opportunities. In addition to these policy considerations, the guidebook also describes specific methodologies for implementing right-sizing assessments and evaluations using methods, tools, and data available within most transportation agencies. Table 38 summarizes the methods and tools included in the guidebook. Because right-sizing is a new type of policy and planning objective and the research in the guidebook covers a range of potential transportation agency business processes, an implementation phase of the research is recommended. Envisioned objectives and elements of the implementation phase are outlined. Implementation Objectives The objectives of the implementation effort are envisioned to include • Make transportation agencies aware of the opportunities associated with right-sizing policies and methods documented in the guidebook and related research products. • Provide resources for agency capacity building as described in the guidebook. • Support early implementation of both the policy and technical recommendations of the guidebook in a way that can be readily understood and replicated by other agencies. • Document the success of right-sizing efforts through implementation of the guidebook, as well as recommended refinements and lessons learned for ongoing right-sizing efforts by transportation agencies. Implementation Plan Elements The elements of the implementation plan are envisioned to include A series of online and in-person workshops for DOT practitioners to learn about the findings of the right-sizing research and propose pilot applications. Development and testing of a curriculum for the “Right-Sizing 101” capacity-building course outlined in the guidebook. “Hands-on” assistance for up to three pilots of right-sizing policies in departments of transportation at different levels of scale and complexity (collectively demonstrating each of the major policy and strategic elements described in the guidebook). “Hands-on” assistance for up to three pilots of agency implementation of tools in the right-sizing toolkit given in Chapter 4 of the guidebook (collectively demonstrating each of the major tools and methods given in the guidebook).

172 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Presentation of the outcomes and lessons learned from these pilots, documentation of the outcomes of these pilots for other practitioners, and publication of pilot case studies as a supplement to the original guidebook. Table 37 Potential opportunities for right-sizing implementation. Potential Processes to Include in a Right-Sizing Policy Transportation Asset Management Plan Ongoing Asset Management Implementation for Pavement and Bridges Long Range Transportation Plan Statewide Transportation Improvement Program Transportation Systems Management and Operations Initiation/Participation in Long-Term Right-Sizing Coalitions Near-Term Right-Sizing Proposals (Initiated Internally or Externally) Right-Sizing Policy Board or Task Force Right-Sizing Capacity-Building Initiative Table 38 Methods and tools. Method/Tool Right-Sizing Decision-Support/Problem Addressed Trip Length Analysis to Assess Modal Balance Support transportation planners in looking beyond aggregate volumes to understand how different trip-making patterns may point to a reconfiguration of the balance between modes. Roadway Utilization/Cost Screening Systematic screening procedure for identifying outliers in the road network that impose disproportionately high life-cycle costs for the level of traffic (or other metrics of utilization) that they serve. Development Sensitive Safety Analysis Assist practitioners in anticipating where changing land use and traffic volumes and safe travel speeds may signal a need for new safety counter- measures. Stratified ROI Calculator Provide a consistent decision-support framework for considering differential return on investment from the perspective of multiple entities involved in a potential right-sizing scenario. Funding and Development Awareness Method Identify the full community of potential funding entities (public and private) with potential incentive to invest in a transportation system or facility, based on improved awareness of surrounding development trends. Congestion Threshold Testing Support right-sizing in the context of growing areas by facilitating a conversation about diminishing marginal returns and relaxing congestion threshold targets. Asset Deficiency Mapping Method Assess the spatial network implications of decisions to relax pavement performance standards. Project Scoping Method Reduce the risk of over-build or under-build by incorporating information about multiple types of performance deficiencies as well as possible sensitivity of needs to different economic and technical futures into the project’s scoping process. Roadway Spacing Analysis Create networks with sufficient mobility and connectivity for intended future land use and supported activity. Performance-Based Practical Design Checklist Provide systematic review of an agency’s STIP to determine whether projects could be additionally right-sized through PBPD. -

Next: Appendix B - Selection and Development of a Right-Sizing Toolkit »
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Transportation agencies across the United States are afflicted with aging infrastructure, unstable funding, changing performance expectations, and programs that need updating to meet future demand effectively and efficiently. Yet, these agencies are charged with ensuring ongoing alignment between the life cycle cost, capacity, extent, condition, and function of a piece of infrastructure or a program and its intended current and future use.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Research Report 917: Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming provides a guideline for identifying right-sizing opportunities where greater social and economic value can be realized by repurposing, reusing, or fundamentally resizing existing transportation system assets.

There is an executive summary associated with this report, as well as several supplementary materials, including:

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