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177 A P P E N D I X C Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing This appendix summarizes the findings of NCHRP Project 19-14, Task 2A: Synthesize Relevant Literature and Related Research. Given the relative newness of right-sizing as a topic, the content of the appendix combines insights that come directly from the research literature, as well as interpretative discussions of implications for right-sizing, based on expert knowledge and interpretation from the research team. Several other documents were reviewed for overall findings but are not specifically cited within the body of this text. These references are included in the Appendix D: Supplemental References by Topic Area, which organizes the materials by their subject matter. Appendix C is organized as follows: Outlines the trends and factors that have led to a reexamination of the transportation investment process, asking the questions, âWhat is the appropriate size, composition, and extent of the transportation system and what can be done to move toward this under- standing of a right-sized transportation system?â Discusses transportation agency business processes and decision frameworks that provide the underlying structure from which to build or evolve new right-sizing practices. Background: Why Right-Sizing and Why Now? As we advance in the twenty-first century, transportation agencies are faced with even greater pressure to make the correct infrastructure investments, within a context of evolving needs and limited funding. Across the United States, transportation agencies share common problems: aging infrastructure, unstable funding, changing performance expectations and even missions, as well as uncertainty about many of the key inputs to the investment decision-making process. This section discusses these framing issues and how they have resulted in a focus on right-sizing as an opportunity for strategic, albeit sometimes difficult, discussions about reconsidering needs and investment efficiencies. Offers discussions of specific areas of practice that are already oriented toward right-sizing, outlining where these existing practices can be extended or built upon. Provides an overview of the major findings from this report to be carried forward into the next phases of the project.
178 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming struggle to balance the costs of continued expansion programs against the need for capital preservation activities, routine maintenance, and operations programs (U.S. DOT 1999). It has now become clear that the full life-cycle costs of any expansion investment must be considered. The traditional funding tools of the highway expansion period (e.g., the gasoline tax) have not kept up with the financial burden of maintaining facilities and meeting the needs of a growing population. The primary reasons for this trend are that the federal tax is not a percentage but a set amount that does not keep up with inflating costs while gas consumption has continued to decrease per capita due to more fuel-efficient vehicles and consumer trends. In addition, the costs of goods and services that go into highway construction have grown faster than prices in the overall economy in the past decade (Fox 2018). The result has been a decrease in overall spending by all levels of government, when adjusted for cost, since the early 2000s (CBO 2016), as shown in Figure 47. The graph has not been adjusted for current inflation. Figures 48 through 52 provide additional perspectives on the contributing factors to agency fiscal constraints. Figure 47 Spending for highways, adjusted for price inflation of inputs used to build and repair highways. Fiscal Constraints and Aging Infrastructure Beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century (especially taking off in the 1950s and 1960s with the construction of the U.S. Highway and Interstate systems), road mileage, auto ownership, and vehicle miles traveled rose consistently and relatively quickly (Litman 2014). These investments and culture changes have created a reliance on a network of roads, many of which are now approaching or past their design lives. The costs of routine maintenance, much less replacement, were not always considered during facility construction, and agencies now
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 179 Figure 48 Tracing transportation revenue and spending. Source: Alex Mercuri, Nelson\Nygaard, based on 2015 Status of the Na n's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Cond ons and Performance (FHWA and FTA). Figure 49 Historical map of federal gasoline tax rates. Source: Congressional Research Service, RL30304, Sept. 7, 2012. Produced by Veronique de Rugy and Rizqi Rachmat, Mercatus Center at George Mason University. February 2015. https://www.mercatus.org/publication/federal-gasoline-tax-should-be-abolished-not-increased.
180 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Figure 50 Eroding gas tax purchasing power. Figure 51 Trend in federal government investment. Government Investment Isnât What It Used to Be, Part 1 Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis; https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-09-06/trump- white-house-op-ed-a-steady-state-of-crisis. Fuel-efficiency data reflect the average on-road efficiency of all light duty vehicles in operation in a given year. Source: ITEP Analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration; https://itep.org/most-states-have- raised-gas-taxes-in-recent-years/.
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 181 Figure 52 Government investment as a percentage of gross domestic product. Funding gaps resulted in a considerable backlog of deferred investment needs (FHWA and FTA 2016; ASCE 2011). At both the federal and the state levels, tough decisions are made about how to balance maintenance of current assets (usually with the objective of preserving at least the condition in which they were designed and built) with the need to improve the system and expand in high-demand areas or in areas where the type of demand is changing (FHWA 2004; Duncan and Schroeckenthaler 2017). Then-Iowa DOT director Paul Trombino summarized this reality in 2015 by observing that state funding could not support all facilities as once built (Marohn 2015). Some states (Alabama, Missouri, and other states) have chosen to dedicate a significant majority of future revenues to maintenance, taking a âfix-it-firstâ approach, given expectations that revenue will continue to decline and result in even more significant shortfalls relative to needs (National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission 2007). Passage of the 5-year FAST Act in 2015 provided for a 7% increase in average annual funds for highway and transit programs over the previous MAP-21 legislation but, even so, is barely expected to keep up with inflation over the period 2016â2020. New funding levels are still far below the level required to meet needs as traditionally defined (ASCE 2016). Even if all funds were dedicated to maintenance needs, it is unlikely all needs would be met. Compounding the effects of funding shortfalls on investment planning is the effect of funding instability and uncertainty. Since 2008, the Highway Trust Fund has been on the brink of insolvency and therefore been shored up with transfers from other budgetary accounts to make up for the gap between outlays and receipts from dedicated fundingâprimarily gasoline and diesel fuel taxes (CBO 2016; Eno 2014). This has created chronic uncertainty regarding federal funding (Eno 2014). Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis; https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-09-06/government- spending-hits-a-striking-new-low
182 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Geographic and Demographic Shifts States face a shifting landscape of challenges in the upcoming decades regarding transportation infrastructure. Most population projections expect the South and West regions to continue to grow, while the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Plains states will see relatively stable populations (Zmud et al. 2014). Population projections pose both opportunities and challenges for these states. Growing states may have additional revenue at their disposal but will also face greater demands for system expansion. Stable states are likely to have fewer opportunities for revenue growth and still face significant maintenance needs. In many cases, states with little growth today were the more populous states historically and built out their infrastructure in the highway expansion era, leaving a greater portion of their old infrastructure in poor condition today. State-level population trends are not the only relevant factor shaping the market for transportation. Stable and shrinking areas may also still face a need for investment in new infrastructure if centers of activity or patterns of travel are changing. Moreover, some stable or shrinking states may also still have growing metropolitan areas where infrastructure is overburdened in its current form. Although the United States is already highly urbanized, the trend toward lower rural and small-town populations is expected to slowly continue over the coming decades (Cox 2014, UN DESA 2015, and Pendall et al. 2015). This trend continuing means that regardless of whether the recent popularity of city center living remains a stable trend (Davis, Dutzik, and Baxandall 2012; McCahill and Spahr 2013), it seems likely that metropolitan areas will grow either up or grow out into greenfields or more dense suburbs (Booz Allen Hamilton 2014). Zmud et al. (2014) also suggested that the demand for infrastructure may shift as the traditional residential suburbs continue to gain importance as employment centers. This integration will interact with the construction of new housing in urban cores to produce new patterns of travel (McCahill and Spahr 2013). The transportation needs of these locations also seem likely to shift as the demographic composition of populations change over time. Although aging much less slowly than some other advanced economies, average ages will rise in many states and metropolitan areas, as the large Baby Boomer generation ages. Additionally, much of the growth of the younger generations is expected to come from immigration and minority populations already in the United States, with a not-yet-understood effect on travel preferences and behavior (Zmud et al. 2014). Different regions of the country will experience these trends in different ways, due to varying exposure to both internal and international migration. Finally, the spatial transformation of transportation needs is also influenced by the shift of the economy from manufacturing to service sectors, with cities benefiting most from the new service economy. Even in terms of the manufacturing and physical goods sectors of the economy, freight traffic is becoming more concentrated on specific corridors (U.S. Government Accountability Office 2008). Spatial patterns of development have led to a wide spectrum of financial support for built infrastructure due to varying residential and commercial densities. Some areas have significantly more local residents or businesses to support the local transportation system than other areas, even within metropolitan areas. The built form of future development is hard to predict, but whether it is more city center oriented or sprawl like will affect the long-term ability of communities to pay for the infrastructure life cycle costs. The Strong Towns organization
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 183 (http://www.strongtowns.org/) is an example of an emerging movement that promotes future development that minimizes costly infrastructure for its needs. As the trend of increasing construction and maintenance costs continues, more demands will be placed on existing infrastructure, particularly in urban areas. Furthermore, most states face rural versus urban decisions in infrastructure spending. Rural infrastructure may not have as many people utilizing it, but it is often essential to hinterland agricultural production that benefits urban centers. Urban infrastructure may require sizable multimodal investment that rural stakeholders may not see as valuable but which supports the urban economy, which then supports the surrounding hinterland. The benefits of agglomeration to urban areas is an important consideration, since transportation investments help the overall economy by inducing growth (Venables 2004). In an era of tightened infrastructure funding, decisions between funding the different types of projects while people shift between them beckon. Changes in Travel Behavior Not only are the concentrations of populations and employers within states and the United States changing, there is also greater uncertainty now than at any time in the last several decades regarding future travel behavior. In 2006, Polzin predicted a decrease in the growth rate of travel but probably did not anticipate just how accurate his prediction would be. Per capita VMT peaked just months after his recommendations for more conservative growth forecasts (Sivak 2013). Puentes and Tomer (2008) were also early to identify shifting trends. The 8-year downward trend in per capita VMT and flat national VMT totals (see Figures 53 and 54) led many researchers to assert that travel demand would never be the same in the United States (Davis, Dutzik, and Baxandall 2012; Sivak 2013; Baxandall 2013; McCahill and Spahr 2013; Polzin and Chu 2014). Figure 53 Divergence of national annual vehicle miles traveled from historic trend: 1992â 2016 (in billions). Source: EDR Group analysis of FHWA Traffic Volume Trends data. 2,000 2,200 2,400 2,600 2,800 3,000 3,200 3,400 3,600 3,800 Ja n- 92 Ja n- 93 Ja n- 94 Ja n- 95 Ja n- 96 Ja n- 97 Ja n- 98 Ja n- 99 Ja n- 00 Ja n- 01 Ja n- 02 Ja n- 03 Ja n- 04 Ja n- 05 Ja n- 06 Ja n- 07 Ja n- 08 Ja n- 09 Ja n- 10 Ja n- 11 Ja n- 12 Ja n- 13 Ja n- 14 Ja n- 15 Ja n- 16 '92-'05 Trend Reported VMT
184 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Figure 54 Per capita vehicle miles traveled: 1992â2017. However, as Figures 53 and 54 show, the last 2 years have broken from the ânewâ trend, with sustained rates of VMT growth that have not been experienced since the 1980s (FHWA 2015). This renewed growth may be caused by sustained lower gas prices and continued improvement in the economy, but a robust debate continues as to whether these two economic parameters are the key drivers or to what extent these trends will continue. Leard, Linn, and Munnings (2016) argued that these two economic factors are sufficiently explanatory and therefore portend a continuation of earlier growth trends. While agreeing with the broad literature that these are important explanatory variables for vehicular travel, McCahillâs modelling work suggested their effects may be changing from their historic role (McCahill 2016). Others suggested that sociodemographic and behavior changes will be more important in the long run and urge caution in ignoring broader societal shifts (Polzin 2006 and Dutzik 2016). The millennial generationâs travel preferences continue to be a focus of much discussion, with Blumenberg et al. (2015) investigating the geographic variation in young peopleâs behavior and countering the inclination to discuss millennials as a homogeneous whole. Blumenberg et al. found economic factors (e.g., employment status or income) to be more significant than the migration and changing life-style preferences in this age group that were highlighted by Davis, Dutzik, and Baxandall. Blumenberg et al. also pointed out that multimodal young people who enjoy high levels of accessibility are still a relatively small share of the overall millennial generation and that many young adults who do not drive are in fact carless and mobility disadvantaged. While travel demand seems to be growing again and per capita VMT has nearly completely returned to 2005 levels, considerable uncertainty exists about the future direction of this trend (Dutzik and Baxandall 2013). Given this uncertainty, there is risk in assuming that the most recent trend means it is safe to return to previous assumptions in the industry about travel behavior and future travel demand. A report by Hilde et al. (2014) provided one example of how future demand may be framed as a range of scenarios (in this case three), depending on how the range of driving factors plays out. Source: EDR Group analysis of FHWA Traffic Volume Trends data and Census Bureau Annual Populaon Esmates. 8,250 8,500 8,750 9,000 9,250 9,500 9,750 10,000 10,250 Ja n- 92 Ja n- 93 Ja n- 94 Ja n- 95 Ja n- 96 Ja n- 97 Ja n- 98 Ja n- 99 Ja n- 00 Ja n- 01 Ja n- 02 Ja n- 03 Ja n- 04 Ja n- 05 Ja n- 06 Ja n- 07 Ja n- 08 Ja n- 09 Ja n- 10 Ja n- 11 Ja n- 12 Ja n- 13 Ja n- 14 Ja n- 15 Ja n- 16 Ja n- 17
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 185 Moreover, new technology such as autonomous and connected vehicles and new service provision models, as typified by transportation network companies, suggest that yet more disruption to our previous assumptions may be coming soon. For example, research suggests the increased use of autonomous vehicles is projected to result in a drastic reduction of transit usage due to saving travel time and more efficient use of roadway infrastructure (Fehr and Peers 2018). There is also little evidence yet that identified VMT-ameliorating trendsâsuch as fewer youth getting licenses and young adults delaying homeownership and relocation to the suburbsâare reversing (Davis, Dutzik, and Baxandall 2012). On the other end of the age spectrum, there is evidence that older residents are driving more years as they wish to maintain their mobility (Zmud et al. 2014). For now, older people on average continue to drive less than their younger counterparts do. However, labor force participation is a key determinant of mobility needs, meaning that shifts in retirement timing could change the behavior of older cohorts in the future. All these factors suggest that uncertainty is likely to continue for agencies trying to determine the need for various types of transportation (and, correspondingly, investments in supporting infrastructure and services). There is both over-build and under-build risk in planning for future capacity needs that may or may not materialize. Growing Performance Management Emphasis NCHRP Synthesis 480: Economic and Development Implications of Transportation Disinvestment (Duncan and Weisbrod 2015) characterizes a series of broad investment paradigms governing transportation in the United States: expansion (1956â1992), asset management (1970â2014), and strategic investment (2012+). Beginning with the 2012 passage of MAP-21 legislation, the strategic investment paradigm is associated with national emphasis on âperformance-based planningâ as a way for agencies to leverage performance metrics (and related tools and data) to make more strategic decisions about how to prioritize, based on an ongoing assessment of performance outcomes and trade-offs (Duncan and Weisbrod 2015). It is for this reason that TSMO projects have gained more attention over recent years. This paradigm moves beyond previous paradigms by considering trade-offs between expansion and preservation choices. Performance-based planning and programming initiatives attempt to address the challenge of how to balance funding for preservation of current assets with meeting emergent transportation needs, through the leveraging of additional information to inform investment decisions (Cambridge Systematics et al. 2010a). The 2015 FAST Act continues the emphasis on system performance over traditional capacity, asset age, and asset condition measures. Evaluating the broader performance impacts of specific investments or developing performance parameters for programs provides a new perspective above that offered by traditional engineering needs-based or management-driven programming (Louch 2012; Grant et al. 2013). Where previous approaches tended to focus on asset age, employ simple trend analyses of demand, and offer guidance standardized around a small set of engineering measures, the new paradigm tries to tie decisions more directly to performance measures that are indicative of the quality of performance experienced by system users.
186 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming This is still a growing discipline in the investment management field, with much of the literature so far focusing on guidance for setting targets and determining what performance measurement will mean for agency business processes (Cambridge Systematics et al. 2010b; Louch 2012; Volpe National Transportation Systems Center 2012; Middleton and Regan 2015). Implementing performance-based planning will require agencies to bring new data, much of which agencies have already collected for other purposes (Grant et al. 2011; Turnbull 2013). The new data and perspective may in turn suggest the right-size of facilities and asset portfolios is different from previous frameworks identified. Right-Sizing as an Outcome of These Trends The preceding trendsâfiscal constraints and aging infrastructure leading to unmet maintenance needs, shifting and uncertain demand, and a growing performance management emphasisâ have led to reexamination of the transportation investment process. NCHRP Synthesis 480: Economic and Development Implications of Transportation Disinvestment (Duncan and Weisbrod 2015) summarized current practice related to âdisinvestmentâ in transportation agency assets, either intentional or passive. Before that synthesis investigation, there was little direct understanding of how agencies could recognize situations of disinvestment or rigorously evaluate the implications of downsizing certain components of their asset portfolio. Programming and prioritization processes have typically focused on the projects and categories of investment near the top of the prioritized list rather than on those that do not âmake the cut.â A key finding of this study was that taking a strategic and deliberate approach to decisions about where not to invest can have clear benefits for agencies, but that this type of analysis may require the realignment of existing tools, methods, and business processes (Duncan and Weisbrod 2015). Analyzing these programs and projects may also reveal opportunities to invest in innovative ways to repurpose those assets or improve their utilization at a lower cost than suggested by default existing strategies. Agencies operating within a more strategic investment paradigm may find that the role of certain assets has evolved in delivering long-term system performance, thus justifying a shift in performance expectations and investments. There is a parallel conversation occurring in the transit industry. The transit industry is also motivated by aging infrastructure, changing use patterns, and a performance emphasis. As with roads and highways, evaluation tools for expansion projects are more developed and widely applied in the transit field than are methods to understand the implications of maintaining or improving state of good repair. To close this gap in the state of the practice, Transit Cooperative Research Program projects are currently under way to establish the relationship between transit asset condition and service quality (Project E-11) and provide guidance for calculating the return on investment in transit state of good repair (Project E-12). The hope is that these studies will enable transit systems to determine the right balance of investments between preserving existing assets, improving core capacity, and expanding service, which are similar concerns held by other transit modes. In summary, states and transportation agencies are recognizing that it may not be financially feasible or economically justifiable to maintain all assets in their current form. There is significant and potentially unprecedented uncertainty today about the future location and magnitude of transportation needs, as well as the type of system performance that will be required. With ongoing funding challenges, decision makers are seeking ways to re-channel
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 187 investment to facilities and programs that minimize risk from two types of uncertainty: (1) uncertainty regarding the performance needs of changing transportation markets and (2) uncertainty regarding the ability of different programs and facilities to meet those needs. To do so, other programs, projects, and facilities may need to be rightsized to improve the efficiency of scarce investment dollars. Business Processes and Decision Frameworks: The Groundwork for Right- Sizing This section of the literature review addresses the business processes and decision frameworks that underlie DOT decision making. These processes will ultimately set the groundwork for how to identify, analyze, and act upon a right-sizing scenario. Planning and Programming Bringing additional performance data into the strategic planning and programming decision process offers one way to identify facilities or investment categories that may significantly differ from their right-size. Among state long-range transportation plans completed as of 2010, a performance component was already the second most common approach after a policy focus (Lyons et al. 2012). In their FHWA guidebook, Grant et al. (2014) compiled a record of practices in incorporating performance-based planning into long-range plans to date and offered recommendations on how performance perspectives could be incorporated into all phases of the planning process, as shown in Figure 55. The authors argued that while many agencies already engage in the types of actions that fall under a performance-based planning, the goal of current efforts is to be systematic about the use of âinformation on transportation system performanceâ past, present, and anticipated futureâin order to develop investment prioritiesâ (Grant et al. 2014).
188 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Figure 55 Framework for performance-based planning. Using a performance-based framework to identify and resolve right-sizing scenarios will require selection of performance measures that allow agencies to reassess the role of investments in system performance from the perspective of the social or economic objectives of the system. For example, this means reassessing from the perspective of passenger-level accessibility and connectivity rather than vehicle-level speed and delay. Numerous sources identify the possibility of using performance-based planning and programming to better integrate strategic decisions with project level prioritization (Grant et al. 2013; Grant et al. 2014). Louch (2012) described performance-based programming as requiring a bottom-up project-based resource allocation strategy that can identify projects that advance agency goals and performance targets. States cited in the FHWA guidebook as already exercising performance-based planning included Minnesota, Maryland, and Arizona; however, given the passage of the FAST Act, all states will now need to exercise some form of performance-based planning. NCHRP Synthesis 510: Resource Allocation of Available Funding to Programs of Work identifies a series of tensions in the resource allocation process that agencies seek to balance (Duncan and Schroeckenthaler 2017): Balancing preservation with expansion Modal balance Geography balance Balancing transparency and complexity Source: Grant et al. 2014.
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 189 Balancing top-down and bottom-up processes Balancing consistency with flexibility Some of these identified tensions, and the need for corresponding flexibility, reflect a recognition that transportation markets and funding dynamics are constantly evolving but that agencies still require a defensible and workably consistent process for decision making. This may require additional communication and feedback between strategic planners, financial planning, and project development divisions. On the other hand, Janikâs 2007 report Best Practices in Using Programmatic Strategies in Statewide Transportation Plans focused the planning process on strategic decisions about programmatic investments and provided guidance for a 10-step programmatic investment strategy (Janik 2007). Janikâs work suggested the long-range plan provides one of the best mechanisms for reassessing the role of different categories of assets and may also be an opportunity to review whether assets are correctly categorized and if appropriate business processes are in place. Tools for Transportation System Performance Management If agencies can develop strong strategic frameworks for identifying right-sizing opportunities through the planning process (based on an understanding of system performance and objectives) and can develop financial plans with appropriate programmatic investment areas, the technical toolbox will also need to be adapted to new performance objectives. Two of the major classes of technical tools employed by DOTs are travel demand models and asset management systems. Travel demand models forecast the level and location of system use, while asset management systems track and forecast the condition and availability of the system itself. NCHRP Report 545: Analytical Tools for Asset Management showed that states use a variety of well-developed, detailed, and complex tools and processes to optimize investments in assets within the existing system (Cambridge Systematics 2005). These include a variety of sketch planning tools, databases, and simulation models. DOTs are using these tools to carry out missions focused on stewardship of existing facilities and protecting the âsunk costsâ of current assets. Most states with mature networks are faced with growing preservation backlogs in many of their programs, despite efforts to optimize preservation programs with a variety of asset management methods (Pew Charitable Trusts 2014 and ASCE 2011). In most cases, these preservation needs are assessed in terms of the cost to maintain or replace the facilities as originally designed and constructed. However, this may not always be appropriate. Billings (2011) identified 12 urban examples, in which the original design of facilities was later identified as suboptimal and changed (sometimes at a significant cost). Statesâ focus on maintaining assets without occasionally reevaluating their role and effectiveness may be one factor that limits their ability to address bottlenecks and issues elsewhere on their systems (Duncan and Weisbrod 2015). The art of determining the improvements necessary to keep a network functioning properly and allocating the resources necessary to achieve this goal have improved as agencies evolved over time. This evolution has occurred in practical experience and in the tools. The practical experience has evolved to manage these assets in a deliberate way, understanding the trends
190 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming and solutions to maximize the available funding and materials. Likewise, the tools of the trade have evolved to help preserve the asset networkwide and properly forecast the useful life of any given asset. In many cases, this has included incorporation of new technology tools dedicated to programmatic decision making, which could be applicable to right-sizing decisions. Private sector tools have become increasingly available to transportation departments to integrate hierarchical decision processes for reconciling different user preferences and values in establishing transportation priorities. Examples include the U.S.-based Decision Lens platform (used by Utah, Texas, and other states) and the New Zealand-based 1,000 minds platform (used by Massachusetts DOT) to arrive at weighted preferences for scoring projects. Simplistic platforms such as MetroScape and simple online surveys are often deployed to ascertain user preferences for scoring projects. The guidebook for right-sizing builds on these tools in offering the stratified ROI tool (in the right-sizing toolkit) as a way for stakeholders to assess right-sizing options weighing different owners, users, and funders of transportation infrastructure. States have also demonstrated interest in advancing their adeptness in managing their transportation systems and stretching their budgets by adoption of TSMO innovations. TSMO practices offer âa set of strategies that focus on operational improvements that can maintain and even restore the performance of the existing transportation system before extra capacity is needed. The goal here is to get the most performance out of the transportation facilities we already have. This requires knowledge, skills, and techniques to administer comprehensive solutions that can be quickly implemented at relatively low cost. This may enable transportation agencies to âstretchâ their funding to benefit more areas and customers. TSMO also helps agencies balance supply and demand and provide flexible solutions to match changing conditionsâ (FHWA n.d. What is TSMO?). Over the past decade, state highway departments have also been adopting transportation assessment management (TAM) practices. TAM represents a long-term, strategic approach to the management of transportation infrastructure. A key TAM objective is the optimal allocation of limited resources to competing uses (e.g., preservation versus capacity improvement), with the objective of maximizing transportation system performance across multiple measures. TAM helps to attain performance goals through the establishment of clear organizational objectives, performance measures, quality information sources, effective business processes, and robust decision-making tools. Most TAM planning horizons are 5 to 10 years, based on federal requirements, but the selected time horizon is also influenced by the developing confidence of those predicting future conditions and the capabilities of tools they use. These tools are discussed in detail in the following paragraphs. Pavement management. Engineers use indices to describe the current and forecast future quality of pavement networks. This provides an early warning system for maintenance and rehabilitation requirements and helps estimate future funding needs. The asset management paradigm has promoted strategic decision-making approaches for the preservation, operation, expansion, and improvement of transportation infrastructure systems (AASHTO 2013). This has prompted a move from qualitative goodâfairâpoor indices to quantitative indices based on distress ratings. Most states have modified their pavement condition index, a major input to any pavement management system (PMS), to incorporate information on detailed distresses that
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 191 target specific aspects of the pavement. These agencies can then manage the specific characteristic aspects while still monitoring and reporting the aggregated PCI vales. This leads to a more comprehensive programmatic outcome. One example of the type of research that leads to better pavement management is a 2012 Texas DOT effort (Gharaibeh et al.). The study proposed updates to improve PMS scores and needs estimates so that they accurately reflect district opinions and practices and reduce pavement performance prediction errors. The suggested approach would increase sensitivity of the PMS as distress data becomes more categorized and detailed. As part of an evaluation of traffic level classes within the PMS, the study also noted irregular decisions were made because of current class ranges. Recommendations were made to research and modify these for the decision tree process to link equivalent single axle lengths and AADT with pavement performance and maintenance and rehabilitation decisions. Asset models can also be used to evaluate the impact of changes in travel demand volumes (e.g., current and projected auto and truck VMTs) on asset deterioration rates and reinvestment needs. Bridge management. For bridges, the evolution of tools parallels that of pavement. The AASHTOWare Bridge Management software (BrM), formerly Pontis, is one of the most used bridge programs available. Over time, developers updated deterioration models and added risk assessments to accompany the classic element-level analysis. However, recent research has demonstrated the necessity of also moving beyond element-level analysis to considering network effects for purposes such as assessing the impact of natural hazards, quantifying work zone impacts (see: BrMUG), providing support for economic impact evaluations, and supporting data integration with other assets, especially financial systems, to provide the basis for better decision making (FHWA 2010). Efforts to further enhance bridge management systems are looking to increase transparency to decision methodology, which helps the user understand how an output was determined and promotes the integration with project and program planning. Potential opportunities from systems integration. Some research has looked specifically at the potential for integrating multiple decision-support systems to improve investment-making decisions overall. One study collected data on the asset management, travel demand forecasting, and related practices of four state DOTs: California (Caltrans), Michigan (Michigan DOT), North Carolina (North Carolina DOT), and Utah (Utah DOT) (FHWA 2007). Most states, including the four reviewed, maintain a TAM program and also utilize a TDM for capacity and forecasting capabilities. However, while current travel demand volumes are frequently used by agency management systems, the measures are rarely incorporated into assessments of asset deterioration rates or the subsequent maintenance and rehabilitation requirements. Similarly, projected future travel volumes of the type generated within travel demand models typically have not been used to model long-term maintenance and preservation needs. Integration of forecasting and asset management capabilities would yield benefits beyond better predictions of asset deterioration. The benefits of reinvesting in existing infrastructure tend to be highest for segments with the highest travel demand (i.e., as there are more users to benefit from the improvements). Systematically assessing the degree to which users are subject to different levels of asset condition and performance across a network could lead to a direct prioritization of assets. However, only a few states have developed this type of support tool.
192 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Similarly, trade-off analysis is a big topic in asset management, but it is complex. Few states have succeeded in developing an objective process or a decision-support tool to facilitate the allocation of funds across multiple investment uses. Interviews in the Phase 1 assessment for NCHRP Project 19-14 reveal that the Utah DOT has been working through the establishment of a benefitâcost process to make âapples-to-applesâ comparisons between preservation and capacity improvement activities. Some states, including the Utah DOT and the Minnesota DOT, have developed good tools for preservation investment trade-off to focus on short-term preservation needs and strategies for a single asset type. The forecasting period in these cases is still only a portion of what can be found in long-range plans, travel demand models, or even design parameters (all 20+ years). This difference in outlooks and lack of reliable long-range asset condition estimates is problematic but is constantly being addressed with better tools and more robust historical data. On the broader asset management front, such tools and supporting data are critical in evaluating long-term funding requirements for asset preservation. The increased emphasis on performance measurement provides an opportunity to address possible inefficiencies in asset management strategies. However, it also poses a potential risk. The opportunity is that performance data will help show which of two identical assets (from a physical infrastructure perspective) has the potential benefit from reinvestment. One example of this is the Vermont Network Robustness Index, which adds criticality measures and values the magnitude of disruptions (in terms of the number and type of users) that might occur to identify the key links in the network (Novak 2010). The threat is that, because performance management can be seen partially as simply an expansion of asset management programs (Cambridge Systematics 2012), performance measures will be chosen that do not reveal the necessary information to make innovative decisions. Asset management systems are being extended to cover more asset categories or new systems are being added for categories that do not fit in the existing ones (Duncan and Schroeckenthaler 2017). As these systems grow, they need to evolve to better capture user and agency costs of performance and not just the most easily measured metrics of condition and traffic volume. One example of practices to promulgate is the inclusion of pavement roughness impacts on vehicle operating costs used in models like HERS-ST to additional decision support tools and performance measurement frameworks. Capturing these types of cost measures for more asset categories and refining those that exist will help agencies identify the economic value of pavement investments and where alternative options may be feasible or appropriate (Winston and Duncan 2015). Matching conditions and affected population requires information on travel demand. Travel demand models have become a core planning and project evaluation tool for states and especially for MPOs. NCHRP Report 716: Travel Demand Forecasting: Parameters and Techniques lists 11 different contexts for which they are important (Cambridge Systematics et al. 2012). Many of these applications deal with identifying capacity constraints in the network and testing the effectiveness of projects to remove these constraints. Because of this role, travel demand models will have a key role to play in identifying, or posing a key barrier to identifying, âright-sizingâ scenarios and their solutions. There is considerable research taking place regarding models for forecasting travel demand, including the relationship between land use and transportation, activity-based modeling, representation of freight, and dynamic network assignment (Donnelly et al. 2010). These
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 193 advances are starting to be implemented by MPOs and states and could provide new tools for assessing transportation system needs. However, these more advanced modeling tools have been somewhat limited outside the research setting due to staffing constraints and the difficulty of compiling and maintaining the input data (Popper et al. 2013). Activity-based models may be especially important for capturing the responses to travel demand management programs and pricing policy (Cambridge Systematics et al. 2012). Another area in which travel model improvements (for instance, better integration of land use models) may suggest âright-sizingâ opportunities is with consideration of induced demand. Most MPO and state demand models do not consider how capacity projects that improve mobility may generate additional trips and miles of travel either through unlocking short-term latent demand or longer-term changes in land use patterns (Litman 2017). Although some travel model frameworks consider induced demand and other tools exist (such as FHWAâs SMITE spreadsheets), they have not been widely used. Activity-based models and integrated land use and transportation models may offer better solutions for measuring these effects and allowing their consideration in evaluating âright-sizingâ scenarios. Billings identified several examples of urban freeway removal projects that reduce capacity and yet have little negative impact on traffic in a 2011 masterâs thesis. Newer models are beginning to better represent this embodiment of Braessâs paradox (Roughgarden and Tardos 2002; Youn, Jeong, and Gastner 2008) and may allow for testing whether other system elements are constructed efficiently to meet their purposes. Even as these technologies develop and are implemented by agencies, some barriers to full adoption may mean agencies also may continue to rely on traditional models as well, possibly using the two model frameworks for different types of analysis (Popper et al. 2013). In these and future models, it is likely that significant uncertainty will continue to exist around corridor or facility forecasts. Reviews of past forecasts have found that 25% of project analyses misestimate by more than 40% the eventually realized traffic (Naess et al. 2006; Flyvbjerg et al. 2006). Parthasarathi and Levinson (2010) specifically identified overestimation as largely due to failure to identify new societal trends and changes in regional travel patterns. Scenario Analysis This challenge in estimating future needs and travel patterns within the network relates to the uncertainty discussed in the first section of this review. To best prepare for future demand that could take several forms, an alternative to deterministic forecasting is an expanded practice of scenario analysis (Zmud et al. 2014). Relying more heavily on multiple potential scenario forecasts than on a single and more precise model outcome will require a change in culture and mindset, which many agencies are beginning to implement, especially in their long-term planning processes. Scenario analysis allows agencies to prepare for the most certain aspects of the future, that is, those which are relevant across the scenarios tested (Caplice and Phadnis 2013; Booz Allen Hamilton 2014). In addition to more robust demand models, simulation tools will have a role to play in testing innovative facility designs. For simulations models, a major challenge to address will be changes in vehicle technology affecting vehicleâvehicle interactions and interactions between different modes.
194 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming The Foresight series (NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation) is one of the key resources for agencies seeking insight into how to consider alternative scenarios in their business practices, with Volume 6: The Effects of Socio-Demographics on Future Travel Demand (Zmud et al. 2014) especially relevant to addressing âright-sizingâ scenarios. Other topics include addressing climate uncertainty (Meyer et al. 2013), future technologies (Popper et al. 2013), agenciesâ sustainability objectives (Booz Allen Hamilton 2014), and energy system transformation (Sorenson et al. 2014). Caplice and Phadnis (2013) in the first Foresight volume provided specific examples of how scenario analysis could be applied not just to the long-term planning process but also to the prioritization of major projects. As this mindset becomes more widespread, it can also be integrated into regular modeling and day-to-day operations decisions. In one specific application, Caplice and Phadnisâs findings showed how scenarios might influence allocation of resources to project groups in the freight programming process. The authors found that, in a scenario similar to an extrapolation of current conditions, most agencies suggest investments in international gateway facilities and access to domestic trade hubs are the most important investments. However, under a variety of alternative future trade pattern and volume scenarios, workshop participants from the scenario exercise shift their emphasis to better connecting production and consumption centers with the major freight corridors. The outcome of these workshops suggests that the investments that make the most sense across all scenarios differ significantly from those investments that would be selected if only one perspective is taken. Another example of how scenario analysis can be operationalized in agency business practice comes from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, which explored project impacts for the programming process under three different land use forecasts (Casper et al. 2016). The forecasts allowed them to identify projects with a high likelihood of paying off under alternative situations. Duncan and Weisbrod (2015, pp. 19â20) provided an overview of the âreal optionâ theory literature that formalizes the value of choosing investment strategies that maintain flexibility to adapt to many future scenarios as further information materializes. Thinking in terms of option values also places an explicit value on certain types of decisions or investments that can be made upfront to maintain flexibility in the future. Identifying the value of different policies and projects under alternative futures will be especially important in dealing with the unknown impact of vehicle automation and other technological changes as well as socioeconomic shifts. Cross-Modal and Multimodal Perspectives Part of the shift to system performance management has included a desire to move from facility- specific metrics to traveler-centric measures. This shift means considering not just automobile mobility but also other ways that users might get from origin to destination, such as transit, walking, or biking. This desire to measure performance of the system in an infrastructure-neutral way has also driven some of the travel modeling advances discussed previously (Cambridge Systematics et al. 2012) and poses a challenge for traditional modeling, asset management, and prioritization processes (Middleton 2015). State transportation agencies have struggled with effective multimodal planning due to organizational and funding structures that typically placed staff and programs in modal silos.
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 195 Seeking to address these issues, NCHRP Report 806: Guide to Cross-Asset Resource Allocation analyz[ing] and communicat[ing] the likely impacts of system performance across multiple investment typesâ to achieve performance targets (Maggiore et al. 2015). This study takes a cross-modal programming perspective rather than a multimodal perspective. The latter perspective is even more difficult to achieve within most agency organizational structures. Earlier studies also focused on modes or assets in comparison rather than in complement to each other (Cambridge Systematics 2001; Cambridge Systematics 2004). However, more and more states are working to integrate investments across categories into single projects. Oregon, for example, has funding set-asides for bike and pedestrian add-ons to highway and street projects (Duncan and Schroeckenthaler 2017). Complete Streets programs and Context Sensitive Solutions are other examples of how multimodal planning at the project level can be integrated into agency business processes. These frameworks may help agencies identify opportunities to âright-sizeâ specific classes of assets, in which alternative investments may better achieve performance goals. Other modes also can provide insights as to how highway portfolios and multimodal investments could respond to âright-sizingâ pressures. The railbanking program created by the National Trails System Act (often referred to as Rails-to-Trails) is one example of repurposing corridors and maintaining some flexibility for future uses (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 2017). The transit industry also has a long history of making trade-off choices between preserving as well as possible the full extent of an existing system, maintaining and improving core capacity, or extending and improving system reach. TCRP Report 157: State of Good Repair: Prioritizing the Rehabilitation and Replacement of Existing Capital Assets and Evaluating the Implications for Transit (Spy Pond Partners, LLC et al. 2012) discussed how agencies may better evaluate maintenance and preservation spending, which traditional methods often show as competing poorly with capacity projects (Spy Pond Partners, LLC et al. 2012). All modes and asset categories have the potential to benefit from assessing the full range of benefits for different project types and alternatives. Technological Opportunities In the transit world, a significant portion of the debate comparing types of investments is about whether maintenance activities and improvements to operations may mitigate some of the need for new capacity in the traditional sense. New technological solutions may provide the opportunity to run trains more reliably and frequently without track upgrades or additions. Operational changes and innovative uses of right-of-way (e.g., bus-on-shoulder services) also could better take advantage of existing assets. Similar technological and operational opportunities are also available for highway and street networks. Popper et al. (2013) presented a case study of how agencies might select a traveler information system that best meets their established goals. Looking forward, NCHRP Project 20-24, Topic 112, will establish federal standards for a Connected Road Classification System that would provide design standards for a range of facilities from automated vehicle only, through mixed autonomous and standard vehicles, to current facility design focused only on human-piloted vehicles. States may soon have to choose if they want to rapidly push into new ITS and alternative facility designs instead of providing traditional capacity solutions to transportation challenges. and the Impact on Transportation System Performance provides tools and guidance for âbetter
196 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Existing Right-Sizing-Oriented Practices This section contains short discussions of specific areas of practice and research that have been identified as already bring oriented toward the challenges of right-sizing. While there are a number of specific subject areas that can be explored in further detail (e.g., developing life-cycle costs or land use perspectives), the following section includes the practices in the following areas: Low-volume road prioritization: Because of their low levels of usage and significant mileage and preservation burden, low-volume roads have been identified as one of the potential âfront linesâ of right-sizing discussions. This sub-section summarizes relevant findings from NCHRP Synthesis 521: Investment Prioritization Methods for Low-Volume Roads (Stein, Weisbrod, and Sieber 2018). Inclusive planning: Core to the challenge of defining the right-size, composition, and extent of the transportation system are approaches to engaging affected stakeholders and ensuring inclusive and equitable decision making. This sub-section documents the evolution of national legislation, programs, and guidance that offer a framework for inclusive planning. Practical design: Emerging practical design practices represent design-level efforts targeted at achieving the right-size for infrastructure, based on a renewed focus on cost effective approaches to achieving performance goals. This sub-section summarizes the state of the practice in practical design and its relevance to right-sizing. International perspectives: While this research project is focused specifically on practices within the United States, it can also be helpful to learn from experiences abroad. This sub- section summarizes a number of perspectives toward right-sizing that were identified by the research team as being germane to the challenge of right-sizing. Low-Volume Roads Prioritization NCHRP Synthesis 521 was undertaken to address a gap in asset management practices for low- volume roads that focus on criteria such as asset condition, traffic, and safety metrics to guide investments while not fully accounting for the broader social and economic significance of these facilities (Stein, Weisbrod, and Sieber 2018). Low-volume roads can create significant value for the wider economy and society by providing basic access to remote communities, ensuring connectivity (particularly last-mile connectivity) for industry to a global economy, and supporting economic development opportunities. However, they are typically at a disadvantage relative to higher volume facilities when only traditional engineering investment criteria are used to determine investment strategies. The synthesis documents current practices used within DOTs and other transportation agencies to make resource allocation decisions about low-volume roads. From six detailed case examples of the current state of the practice for prioritization of low-volume roads, as well as survey responses from 40 state DOTs and 3 Canadian provinces, the synthesis identifies a number of key findings that are of direct relevance to right-sizing. The findings follow. First, the individual case examples reveal a tendency of states to rely on local knowledge when seeking to recognize the broader societal or economic importance of low-volume roads in the decision-making process. District or field engineers, in particular, serve as liaisons between the
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 197 communities served and higher-level DOT decision making, using their local knowledge and community input to ensure prioritization recognizes broader (and often harder-to-quantify) implications of low-volume road performance. This is achieved through processes with varying degrees of formality, ranging from qualitative input to more structured use of qualitative scoring criteria to quantitative measures (e.g., of economic distress, poverty, or accessibility). From a right-sizing perspective, the case examples show how knowledge of the social or economic role of a piece of transportation infrastructure may reside somewhere outside of (or at the edges of) a state DOT. Second, the synthesis shows how low-volume roads are emerging as a âfront lineâ of broader conversations about funding constraints, disinvestment, and right-sizing. Responses collected in the agency survey demonstrate a mix of attitudes toward trends in low-volume road importance. On the one hand, some DOTs report that they are paying less attention to low-volume roads because of funding constraints and necessary prioritization of other investments. On the other hand, the same funding pressures are encouraging other DOTs to take a closer look at low- volume roads to better account for their role within the broader transportation system. These DOTs are working to avoid or at least understand the negative implications of lowered funding and performance on low-volume roads that result from hard choices within an agency. When states grapple with the challenge of matching system size and investment levels to societal needs, the ability to distinguish between different facilities with varying degrees of importance is likely to become even more critical. Even in cases in which a class of low-volume roads is defined for the sake of directing money away from these roads, states are still using approaches such as earmarks to ensure some minimum level of investment is secured. Approaches such as earmarks reflect a step toward more intentional disinvestment, although at present DOTs are not necessarily considering these investment strategies to be long-term solutions. Inclusive Planning The first piece of legislation that required âpublic involvementâ was the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1950. It required states to hold public hearings for projects bypassing cities and towns, provided notification to the public that a project would be constructed, and advertised that a public hearing would be held where information about the project would be available to the public. Notification consisted primarily of placing advertisements in the local morning and/or evening newspapers and on local radio, as television was still in its infancy. It was not until 14 years later with the passage of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that interested parties were given opportunities to voice their perspectives in the development of transportation solutions. This law ensured that individuals would have an equal right to participate regardless of their race, color, or national origin in all programs receiving federal- assistance. Soon after, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 were passed and established the opportunity for public involvement throughout the location and design processes. This was followed by the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, which extended the opportunity for public involvement in the transportation planning process.
198 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming In 1994, the Executive Order on Environmental Justice was signed. The Executive Order sought to ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process. As a result, several important publications such as Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Reference for Transportation (FHWA 1996a), Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision-Making (FHWA 1996b), and Community Impact Mitigation: Case Studies (FHWA 1998) were published. By 1998, both community impact assessment and Context Sensitive Solutions had been adopted as formal processes that helped to identify community characteristics and values and facilitated public involvement in the decision-making process (see Table 40 for definitions). Community Impact Assessment: Strategic Plan (Florida DOT 1999) was one of the first publications published by a DOT. From 1998 to 2006, FHWA sponsored a series of regional and national community impact assessment conferences for FHWA, DOTs, and their consultants. Table 40 Definitions of Community Impact Assessment and Context Sensitive Solutions âCommunity Impact Assessment (CIA) is an iterative process to evaluate the effects of a transportation action on a community and its quality of life. It is a way to incorporate community considerations into the planning and project development of transportation projectsâ¦CIA serves as a framework that helps agencies comply with requirements related to Environmental Justice, Civil Rights, and Public Involvement. It helps agencies identify issues, needs, and possible solutions early in the planning and project development processes and strengthens public involvement by ensuring that affected communities are reached for input. CIA also helps agencies understand the "context" of a community's human environment, which is an essential part of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS), through its iterative data collection process. CSS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders in providing a transportation facility that fits its setting. Understanding a community's context and the needs of its members helps agencies develop solutions that promote healthy and livable communities.â Source: FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP), âCommunity Impact Assessment.â https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/cia/index.cfm. In 2000, the Executive Order on Limited English Proficiency was signed. The Executive Order placed increased emphasis on providing meaningful access to decision-making information. This led to publications. Publications included Transportation and Environmental Justice: Case Studies (FHWA 2000), Community Impact Assessment and Environmental Justice for Transit Agencies: A Reference (Florida Transit Office and National Center for Transit Research 2002), and Transportation and Environmental Justice: Effective Practices (FHWA 2002). Other publications were Community Culture and the Environment: A Guide to Understanding a Sense of Place (EPA 2003) and How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking (FHWA 2006). NCHRP Synthesis 407: Effective Public Involvement Using Limited Resources (Morris and Fragala 2010) documented the experiences of individuals and their agencies in the application of effective and cost-effective strategies and implementation techniques used to engage the public in the development of transportation plans and projects. The synthesis also documented strategies found to be ineffective. TCRP Synthesis 89: Public Participation Strategies for Transit (Giering 2011) documented the state of the practice in terms of publication strategies to inform and engage the public for transit-
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 199 related activities to provide ideas and insights into practices and techniques that agencies have found to be most successful, as well as to explore challenges faced. Also produced during this period were Environmental Justice in Transportation: Emerging Trends and Best Practices (FHWA 2011a) and Environmental Justice: Initiatives to Support Environmental Justice (FHWA 2011b). NCHRP Report 710: Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking (Aimen and Morris 2012) provided DOTs, MPOs, and other transportation agencies with a rich source of practical and effective tools, techniques, and approaches for identifying and connecting with populations that have traditionally been underserved and underrepresented in transportation decision making. In addition, Environmental Justice: Guidance for Conducting Community Impact Assessments (FHWA 2012) and Environmental Justice in NEPA (FHWA 2013) were produced. A revised version of Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decisionmaking (FHWA 2015a) has been published. The publication updates and incorporates new tools and techniques for engaging todayâs diverse population. Each of these laws, executive orders, publications, webinars, and conferences has added to the growing body of knowledge about the differences and similarities of those various populations within this country, as well as knowledge on how to ensure their perspectives are brought into transportation planning and decision making. Within the context of right-sizing, this body of knowledge and practice will be key as agencies seek to define on an ongoing basis the right-size, composition and extent of the transportation system. Practical design (PD) and its successor, PBPD, are project development and design philosophies that in a way represent precursors to current discussions centered on right-sizing the transportation system. The Missouri Department of Transportation is credited with the first use of practical design (aka practical solutions and practical improvements) dating back to 2005. The concept underlying PD was to ââ¦ build good projects everywhereârather than perfect projects somewhereâyielding a great transportation system in the endâ (Jones 2010). The state of the practice for PD as of 2013 was documented in NCHRP Synthesis 443: Practical Highway Design Solutions (McGee 2013). By then, six states had a formal PD programâIdaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, and Utah. From the review of those six states, the PD concept was summarized as follows: [Practical Design is] a project development and design program that seeks to develop individual projects with improved safety and operation but at a reduced cost, using the savings for more projects within a fiscal budgetâ¦ [The driving force for adopting this policy is to] maximize the use of available transportation funds, which are limited and less able to meet all the many system needs. Practical Design as a Right-Sizing Philosophy for Project Development
200 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming The synthesis also described how practical design can result in downsizing or right-sizing of transportation systems at a project level (McGee 2013): The focus of Practical Design is on cost reduction for individual projects so that the savings can be used on additional projects. Therefore, its application may result in âdownsizingâ a project or, as some states state, âright-sizingââ¦ this can mean: â¢ Scoping a project based on shorter design year; for example, 10 years versus 20 years, consistent with a projectâs unique needs. â¢ Scoping a project based on a lower level-of-service; for example, LOS D versus LOS C. â¢ Selecting a design speed equal to the current posted speed limit, which in turn affects the selection of lower values for some design elements. â¢ Selecting a specific design element, such as shoulder width, different than would be required under the Stateâs design manual. â¢ Customizing the pavement thickness or using different pavement material. McGee emphasized that PD is not confined to geometric design decisions but rather, â[PD] can be all-encompassing, ranging from deciding during planning and scoping phases on the type of facility to meet the purpose and need; to the selection of design volumes, speed, and elements of the facility; and even to the selection of pavement material and thicknessâ (2013). Underlying principles of PD identified in NCHRP Synthesis 443 (McGee 2013) are to 1. Build âgoodâ projects rather than âgreatâ projects in order to achieve a âgreat systemâ overall, given limited resources. 2. Follow a âdesign upâ approachâi.e., only make improvements that are necessary and meet the projectâs objective statement. 3. Take advantage of design flexibility and use design exceptions, as appropriate. These can be implemented in cases where (a) a design standard exceeds the objective statement of a project, or (b) a lower cost solution is available that does not meet design standards but does not compromise safety. Finally, the synthesis identified some similarities between PD and other practices within DOTs, namely: 3R (resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation); context sensitive solutions or CSS, and value engineering: 3R projects are not improved to full design standards, making PD and 3R projects similar. PD is like CSS in that both employ design flexibility to achieve closer adherence to a projectâs performance objectives. Value engineering and PD share goals of cost reduction. However, value engineering focuses on achieving proposed improvements in the most cost- effective manner (typically for large projects) while PD asks how to most effectively achieve a projectâs purpose and need (without presupposing specific design improvements) (McGee 2013). Since the publication of NCHRP Synthesis 443: Practical Highway Design Solutions, at least one additional state has adopted the PD approachâIndiana embarked on a process called Open Roads. Open Roads embodies the same principles that have been noted, including strong purpose-and-need project statements; sound engineering judgment driven by common sense; context awareness and sensitivity, and innovation; âdesign-upâ philosophy; and a systems focus on safety (Indiana DOT 2017).
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 201 FHWA recently worked to encourage an evolution of practical design into performance-based practical design to embrace the performance-based approaches emphasized by FHWA. In outlining the case for this evolution, FHWA cited risks of too narrowly defined PD: A concern is that agencies may overemphasize short-term cost savings without a clear understanding of how such decisions could impact other objectives (such as safety and operational performance, context sensitivity, life-cycle costs, long-range corridor goals, livability, and sustainability). The proposed solution emphasizes how PD can be grounded in overall performance management: To address this concern, agencies can make more informed decisions by evolving towards a Performance-Based Practical Design (PBPD) approach grounded in a performance management framework. PBPD can be articulated as modifying a traditional design approach to a "design up" approach[,] where transportation decision makers exercise engineering judgment to build up the improvements from existing conditions to meet both project and system objectives. PBPD uses appropriate performance-analysis tools, considers both short and long-term project and system goals while addressing project purpose and need. Table 41 presents the notable attributes of PBPD as set forth by FHWA. In support of PBPD, FHWA provides guidance on how operational and safety analysis tools can be used to quantitatively compare the performance of various design alternatives (FHWA 2015b). Table 41 Notable Attributes of PBPD â¢ PBPD focuses on performance improvements that benefit both project and system needs. â¢ Agencies make sound decisions based upon performance analysis. â¢ By scrutinizing each element of a project's scope relative to value, need, and urgency, a PBPD approach seeks a greater return on infrastructure investments. â¢ PBPD strengthens the emphasis on planning-level corridor or system performance needs and objectives when planning, scoping, and developing individual projects. â¢ PBPD can be implemented within the Federal-Aid Highway Program regulatory environment utilizing existing flexibility. PBPD does not eliminate, modify, or compromise existing design standards or regulatory requirements. Source: FHWA. Brief: Overview of Performance-Based Practical Design (PBPD). https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/design/pbpd/documents/pbpd_brief.cfm. In terms of its relevance to right-sizing, practical design grew out of the need to reconsider design processes and flexibility as a way of maximizing performance, given limited resources. Some states explicitly conceive of practical design as a mechanism by which to right-size. PD highlights in an explicit manner the importance of understanding project objectives (purpose and need) and using them to guide project development. PD points to the strong relationship between this understanding of need and the outcomes that can be achieved by a DOT: selecting the right scope statement based on project purpose and need will be influential in the ultimate design and resulting cost.
202 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming Because of demographic changes, different countries have endeavored to reassess the right-size of transportation infrastructure, with the urgency of this reassessment depending in part on how scarce the available funds for maintaining, operating, and improving the transportation networks are relative to the experienced and forecast demographic change. This section summarizes some recent international examples of this type of reassessment. A concept called Daseinsvorsorge, the assurance of minimum standards in the provision of basic necessities, exists in Germany for public services in general. According to a study commissioned by a state legislature committee for the German state of North Rhine Westphalia (Dittrich- Wesbauer and Siedentop 2015), it is increasingly applied to the transportation infrastructure in areas where demographic change increases the per capita burden of infrastructure expenditures considerably. Especially high remaining infrastructure costs are expected for the transportation sector as a consequence of demographic change, as physical reduction of transportation networks is not easily achieved. One of the recommendations from Dittrich-Wesbauer and Siedentop (2015) is to assign the responsibility for the local networks to a regional body, formed by representatives from local authorities, in order to make maintenance decisions with a regional budget from a higher level and therefore more strategic perspective. Another recommendation speaks to the close collaboration between urban development and infrastructure planning (âinfrastructure-oriented developmentâ). Again on a regional scale, municipalities would come together to decide about the delimitations of âindividual responsibility areasâ with thinned-out infrastructure offered (making residents more self-reliant) and âguarantee areasâ with a full equipment of public infrastructure. Dittrich-Wesbauer and Siedentop (2015) also concluded that public support mechanisms (i.e., funding) should not only consider grant applications for new infrastructure investments but also for dismantling costs to reduce existing infrastructure. On the level of right-sizing within an entire transportation network, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (March 2016) analyzed investment trade-offs in its strategic long-term transportation plan (Bundesverkehrswegeplan), in which projects for different modes compete with each other. On the basis of scenarios, each of which gave priority to a different set of transportation modes, it was assessed which mix of investments summed up to an optimal total of transportation investment efficiency. Scenario 1 was based on the actual transportation performance of each mode [person-kilometers], which resulted in a distribution heavily leaning toward funds for highways. Scenario 2 represented the current spending pattern, extrapolating it into the timeframe of the Bundesverkehrswegeplan. Scenario 3, finally, was oriented toward the ministryâs sustainability strategy, directing more funds to the more environmentally friendly means of transportation. Individual projects within the respective silos for the different modes have to achieve a high standard in efficiency for financing. A different aspect of right-sizing is managing the balance of who benefits and who pays for improvements across different territorial authorities. In Switzerland, an assessment showed that local requests for improvements of national highway infrastructure projects led to considerably increased costs, which were being borne by the federal government. In response, the Swiss Federal Road Office (2013) set up rules on how much the federal government is ready to pay for a highway project. The updated process now requires that preliminary studies establish a cost- optimized alternative, which may meet the functional objectives from the perspective of the International Perspectives
Synthesis of the Literature and Practice with Interpretation of Relevance for Right-Sizing 203 Federal Road Office but does not provide additional benefits for the affected city or region. If local and regional authorities wish to benefit from additional improvements (e.g., additional highway interchanges allowing for more local traffic using the national highway or longer tunnels to protect urbanized areas from noise and fragmentation), they have to come up with funding to cover those additional costs. This allows the federal government to focus on the function that the project has for the network and to fund more projects within its budget, while also providing a mechanism for subordinate jurisdictions to assess their own needs and respective funding. It is also important within the context of right-sizing to demonstrate to decision makers what levels of expenditures are to be expected for a given level of service. The Transportation Association of Canada (2010) commissioned a paper titled Right-Sizing Transit: What Is a Reasonable Level of Transit Investment to explain to non-professional decision makers which order of magnitude of transit service and costs are to be expected in a given local situation. In addition to guidance on unit costs, the report includes simple cross-modal comparisons to aid in setting expectations about transit service provision. The report highlights the importance of understanding costs and performance outcomes as a precursor to collective decision making about the ârightâ scope of a transportation system or service. Major Findings The following summarizes the major findings going forward into the next phases of the right- sizing assignment based on the research contained in this report. Fiscal constraints and aging infrastructureâleading to unmet maintenance needs, shifting and uncertain demand, and a growing performance management emphasisâhave led to reexamination of the transportation investment process. NCHRP Synthesis 480 summarized current practice related to âdisinvestmentâ in transportation agency assets, either intentional or passive. Previous to that synthesis investigation, there was little direct understanding of how agencies could recognize situations of disinvestment or rigorously evaluate the implications of downsizing certain components of their asset portfolio. A key finding of NCHRP Synthesis 480 and this literature review is that taking a strategic and deliberate approach to decisions about where not to invest can have clear benefits for agencies, but that this type of analysis may require the realignment of existing tools, methods, and business processes. City and state DOTs utilize various transportation agency business processes and decision frameworks, many of which represent areas of practice that are already oriented toward right-sizing. Some of these include DOTs bring additional performance data into the strategic planning and programming decision process as a way to identify facilities or investment categories that may significantly differ from their right-size. Among state long-range transportation plans completed as of 2010, a performance component was already the second-most common approach after a policy focus. DOTs employ various major classes of technical tools to manage their systems, including TSMO, travel demand models, and asset management systems. Travel demand models forecast the level and location of system use, while asset management systems track and forecast the condition and availability of the system itself. Even as technologies develop and agencies implement technologies, some
204 Right-Sizing Transportation Investments: A Guidebook for Planning and Programming barriers to full adoption may mean agencies also could continue to rely on traditional models as well. With respect to low-volume roadway prioritization, states are still using approaches such as earmarks to ensure some minimum level of investment is secured. This reflects a step toward more intentional disinvestment, although at present DOTs are not necessarily considering these investment strategies to be long-term solutions. In terms of practical designâs relevance to right-sizing, practical design grew out of the need to reconsider design processes and flexibility as a way of maximizing performance given limited resources. Some states explicitly conceive of practical design as a mechanism by which to rightsize. PD highlights in an explicit manner the importance of understanding project objectives (purpose and need) and using purpose and need to guide project development. PD points to the strong relationship between this understanding of need and the outcomes that a DOT can achieve: selecting the ârightâ scope statement based on project purpose and need will be influential in the ultimate design and resulting cost. There are several international examples of right-sizing policy available for research and best practices. Research from Germany, Switzerland, and Canada exposes issues that are common to the United States and that offer potentially innovative solutions in favorable policy environments. Overall, these findings indicate a clear need for new tools and improved methods and processes within DOTs to facilitate right-sizing of transportation investments. While some existing strategies can be utilized or modified, extended guidance to articulate best practices will add value for transportation agencies. References AASHTO. (2013). AASHTO Transportation Asset Management GuideâA Focus on Implementation. Available at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/pubs/hif13047.pdf. Accessed November 2018. Aimen, D., and A. Morris. (2012). NCHRP Report 710: Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. Available at http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/166872.aspx. Accessed November 2018. ASCE. (2016). Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for Americaâs Economic Future. Available athttp://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ 2016-FTA-Report-Close-the-Gap.pdf. Accessed March 2017. ASCE. (2011). Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Surface Transportation Infrastructure. Available at http://www.asce.org/failure_to_act_ economic_studies/. Accessed March 2017. Baxandall, P. (2013). Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving. United States Public Interest Research Group, Boston, MA. Available at http://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Moving_Off_the_Road_USPIRG.pdf [accessed March 2017].
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