Sustainable Practices for Project Delivery Though Practical Solutions
N Stamatiadis, University of Kentucky, US
The growing need for road safety and mobility improvements and diminishing funds for such actions necessitate a more critical look at road design approaches by developing contextual solutions that address economic restraints in a sustainable manner.
Every transportation project is developed to address specific needs that typically aim to resolve mobility and safety deficiencies and concerns. However, projects typically pass through communities and natural resources and therefore have the potential to affect them. Therefore, to properly design such transportation projects, one needs to develop a solution that will address the capacity and safety issues while considering the physical and human environmental needs. The concept of context sensitive solutions is a project development and geometric design approach that aims to balance safety, mobility, human, and environmental needs of a roadway design. There is a number of key design elements that have the potential to influence design choices and result in a significant impact on the developed design. At the same time, there are often conflicting elements in a design and a designer is called upon to develop a solution that will consider and address these elements by designing a roadway non conforming to the full design values used up to that point.
With the need for road safety and mobility improvements growing and the availability of funds for such improvement diminishing it is important to look at road design approaches more critically. In the past, roadway designs aimed at delivering the ?best? project that could be designed often resulting in an over-designed roadway. Such an approach could lead to wasteful appropriation and reduced effectiveness of the limited available funds. The underlying idea of developing contextual and practical solutions is to equally consider and address all roadway issues. The designers and planners are therefore asked to develop an appropriate solution and design that satisfies all. This may indeed necessitate the consideration of alternatives that could initially not be viewed as appropriate. Such alternatives may include the examination of an undivided facility, which may affect expected safety levels, the use of fewer lanes, which may affect expected capacity and mobility, or the use of narrower lanes, which may affect expected safety and capacity levels. The basic notion of practical solutions is the need to examine such non-typical approaches wherever they are required and determine how each of the roadway-shaping issues would be addressed in the final design. It is therefore apparent that the need for innovation and creative design is paramount in developing such practical solutions.
Developing a procedure that yields up to the maximum margin of return for the investment requires an approach that takes into account specific safety issues and the commensurate design elements for each roadway. The main goal of practical solutions is cost reductions throughout the project development process extended into operations and maintenance of all highway facilities. This operationally defines a design procedure within the context of practical solutions and sets up the guiding principles of the approach. The most critical component of this approach to be used in planning and design is the definition and clarification of the initial project concept (its specific goals and objectives), since it is the corner stone of the project and used to significantly contain the cost and impact of a project. Traditional design tends to seek as high a design speed as reasonable with the aim to reduce travel time. Practical solutions require that levels of service should not be taken as absolutes, but rather be viewed as starting points. Each project should be viewed as an investment and as such requires an understanding of the marginal returns to be realized. As in any financial situation, there is always a point of diminishing returns, i.e. greater investment will have no or little effect on increasing the return. The system based evaluation of practical design in this study examined the safety and operational performance of various cross section alternatives, based on Highway Capacity and Highway Safety Manual procedures. The various alternative cross sections ranged from an improved two-lane section representing a practical solution approach to a four-lane divided highway. The idea is that at some point in the design process, larger cross sections and wider right of way does not ?return? significant improvements for the investment to be made. The current budgetary constraints and limitations necessitate such an approach for addressing more problem areas with limited resources. This approach calls for just meeting specific project goals and objectives, not significantly exceeding them.
Association for European Transport