Practical Design for Transportation
Flexibility to Stretch Funding:

Practical Design for Transportation

Across the country, Practical Design is emerging as a preferred strategy among transportation leaders. Organizations such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) have published information and provided guidance on the use of Practical Design. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) endorses Practical Design and is giving states more flexibility to implement it.

Guidance may vary across organizations and Departments of Transportation, but one thing remains clear – Practical Design is helping stretch tight budgets by providing sound design solutions that save money.


What is Practical Design?

Practical Design is a flexible approach to transportation projects. Projects are evaluated throughout the design phase to look for opportunities to lower project costs. Practical Design solutions aren’t just limited to reducing construction costs; they also can reduce operating and maintenance costs that are sometimes significantly higher than the original construction cost. Design modifications that are identified allow for necessary improvements to the transportation system, without being excessive or compromising safety.1

Practical Design solutions meet the established Purpose and Need for a particular project and are focused on finding the right solutions for the surroundings. Effective Practical Design strategies include an understanding that each project is unique and solutions are not one-size-fits-all.

1 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/publications/flexibility/flexibility.pdf http://www.oregon.gov/odot/programs/pages/index.aspx


Practical Design Compared to Value Engineering

Value Engineering is a stringent and rigorous one-time process that happens at a set point during the design. Third party facilitators investigate the design to find cost saving strategies. Ideas proposed do not necessarily address the Purpose and Need of the project.

Practical Design is not a formal process but an agile exercise that continues throughout the planning and design of the project. It involves working through ideas, collaborating with stakeholders and ongoing follow up. It’s an iterative process. With Practical Design, engineers are focused on the Purpose and Need of the project, so every idea proposed must first address the Purpose and Need before it is considered.


The Benefits of Practical Design

The important benefit of this strategy is that it identifies how to do more with less in an era of increasingly limited funding and growing transportation needs.

Practical Design helps stretch funding across entire programs. When cost-saving modifications are identified, the money saved is available to invest in other transportation assets. This helps solve other transportation deficiencies and address additional needs.


B&N’s Approach to Practical Design

B&N engineers understand that every project is different and requires an approach that considers the context of the entire transportation corridor. This is critical to effective Practical Design.

We believe effective Practical Design begins in the planning phase when the context of the project is being determined. Early engagement sets the stage for a more flexible and creative process. It also allows for continual reevaluation and assessment of the project compared to the established design guidelines. The result is a unique and cost-saving solution instead of an off the shelf option.

Through Practical Design we’re helping implement ideas that have saved our clients millions of dollars, improved the quality of their transportation system, stretched their capital improvements programs, and reduced their ongoing operation and maintenance costs.

Collaboration during the risk assessment and risk management process also is important. B&N engineers consult with clients on Practical Design modifications compared to preferred standards and quantify the differences. This process often includes workshops with clients to discuss and help secure agreement and buy-in on proposed modifications. It is this partnership with our clients that makes the Practical Design process so valuable.

Through evaluation and assessment, B&N focuses on developing best in class transportation solutions for clients. Through Practical Design we’re helping implement ideas that have saved our clients millions of dollars, improved the quality of their transportation system, stretched their capital improvements programs, and reduced their ongoing operation and maintenance costs.


Practical Design Expertise

B&N’s involvement in national transportation organizations, such as the Transportation Research Board (TRB), gives us insight into the process and methods used to develop design standards. B&N’s knowledge of the research, assumptions and methodology that are behind these standards makes us better equipped to recommend an alternate solution without compromising safety.

Some existing design standards are based on research completed more than 30 years ago. Through involvement with TRB – including serving on the Geometric Design Committee and reviewing papers for various other committees – B&N engineers see firsthand which standards are in the process of being updated based on current research. This insight is an advantage when working with our clients on Practical Design strategies. It gives us a head start in identifying which standards can be recommended for change on a project, and is a significant benefit during the Practical Design process.


Our Experience

Learn more about how B&N has successfully implemented Practical Design solutions for projects in several states.

Arizona

MUD Interchange Improves Traffic, Safety, and Lowers Projected Costs

Median Urban Diamond Interchange
Surprise, Arizona
Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG)

Median Urban Diamond Interchange

The US-60/Grand Avenue and Bell Road intersection is one of the most heavily traveled intersections in the metropolitan Phoenix area. A railway intersects Bell Road near US-60/Grand Avenue where passing trains add to traffic congestion and the railroad’s at-grade crossing is a safety concern for motorists. Established businesses that surround the heavily skewed intersection further complicate site conditions.

As part of a Practical Design study conducted for MAG, B&N reviewed plans and provided several alternatives. The Median Urban Diamond (MUD) interchange concept was selected. The grade-separated solution has a single intersection on Bell Road, which will help resolve traffic congestion and improve safety. By placing ramps in the median, adjacent businesses can remain intact. The MUD also reduced projected costs up to 40 percent compared to the original alternatives.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Arizona, contact Jason Pagnard, PE.


Florida

Practical Design Preserves Assets, Increases Safety

State Route 10/US 90 Resurfacing Project
Duval County, Florida
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

State Route 10/US 90 Resurfacing Project

B&N assisted FDOT with implementing Practical Design strategies on three recent roadway resurfacing projects. The purpose of the projects was to enhance highway safety and preserve the assets through asphalt milling and resurfacing. Various design criteria upgrades were included in the roadways, based on a review of crash history.

The designs also were compared with FDOT’s Practical Design checklists, which provide guidance on what items should and should not remain in resurfacing projects. The Practical Design process reduced overall project costs while increasing safety through the review of available crash history data and implementation of selected improvements in high crash locations.

At State Route 10/US 90, approximately nine miles of two-lane, rural arterial roadway will be resurfaced in Duval County. Design criteria upgrades include a dedicated right-turn lane, radius return improvements and widening of the paved shoulders to meet rural bicycle lane criteria.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Florida, contact Scott Perfater, PE.

Practical Design Preserves Assets, Increases Safety

State Route 100 Resurfacing Project
Flagler County, Florida
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

State Route 100 Resurfacing Project

B&N assisted FDOT with implementing Practical Design strategies on three recent roadway resurfacing projects. The purpose of the projects was to enhance highway safety and preserve the assets through asphalt milling and resurfacing. Various design criteria upgrades were included in the roadways, based on a review of crash history.

The designs also were compared with FDOT’s Practical Design checklists, which provide guidance on what items should and should not remain in resurfacing projects. The Practical Design process reduced overall project costs while increasing safety through the review of available crash history and implementation of selected improvements in high crash locations.

Approximately three miles of four-lane, divided urban and arterial roadway were resurfaced on State Route 100 in Flagler County. In addition to minor traffic signal and sign improvements, ADA improvements and the removal of a midblock pedestrian crossing in downtown Flagler Beach also were included in the project.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Florida, contact Scott Perfater, PE.

Practical Design Preserves Assets, Increases Safety

State Route 694 Resurfacing Project
Pinellas County, Florida
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

State Route 694 Resurfacing Project

B&N assisted FDOT with implementing Practical Design strategies on three recent roadway resurfacing projects. The purpose of the projects was to enhance highway safety and preserve the assets through asphalt milling and resurfacing. Various design criteria upgrades were included in the roadways, based on a review of crash history.

The designs also were compared with FDOT’s Practical Design checklists, which provide guidance on what items should and should not remain in resurfacing projects. The Practical Design process reduced overall project costs while increasing safety through the review of available crash history and implementation of selected improvements in high crash locations.

The State Route 694 project consisted of approximately 2.5 miles of six-lane, urban arterial resurfacing that was coordinated with the City of Pinellas Park, Pinellas County and CSX railroad. Design criteria upgrades included railroad approach profile adjustments, ADA upgrades, and traffic signal and sign improvements. Design variations were prepared for bicycle lanes, lane and border width.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Florida, contact Scott Perfater, PE.


Indiana

Right Size Solution and Revisions Reduce Costs by $3 Million

State Route 8 Widening
DeKalb County, Indiana
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

State Route 8 Widening

When designing the widening of State Route 8 from a two- to a three-lane roadway, Practical Design strategies helped scale the project to save more than $3 million in project costs while meeting safety and operational needs. The B&N team worked with INDOT to revise the project scope, which included removing shoulders and sidewalks for this 1.6-mile section of roadway. Sidewalks were eliminated from the scope because there are no connecting sidewalks outside the project area.

B&N recommended lowering the speed limit to 45 MPH in this growing area. By lowering the speed limit from the existing 50 MPH, curb and gutter could be placed directly adjacent to the travel lanes. This saved more than $1 million in right-of-way costs because it avoided the need to relocate two properties. The 45 MPH speed limit also enhanced safety for the roadway that is located in an area of ongoing development.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Indiana, contact Jason Mathias, PE.

Intersection Safety Measures Driven by Finding Right Fit for Corridor

State Route 46/State Route 9 Intersection Improvements
Bartholomew County, Indiana
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

State Route 46/State Route 9 Intersection Improvements

Effective Practical Design helps to ensure that a proposed design is the correct solution for its surroundings. In Bartholomew County, there was a history of accidents at a rural four-way intersection where, based on a preliminary design scope, a roundabout was proposed as the solution to improve safety. After careful evaluation of the accident history and conditions, B&N determined that the benefits of a roundabout related to accident reduction did not support the cost of the investment. B&N instead proposed a series of accident mitigation suggestions using the principals of the INDOT Intersection Decision Guide. The accident mitigation measures include flashing warning signs, buzz strips and oversized stop signs.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Indiana, contact Greg Rominger, PE.

New Bridge Built on Old Foundation to Salvage Materials, Save Money

State Route 7 over Camp Creek
Jefferson County, Indiana
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

State Route 7 over Camp Creek

Reusing existing infrastructure and doing more with less are important Practical Design strategies that were beneficial when designing a bridge to replace an old earth-filled arch in Jefferson County. B&N recommended reusing the existing bridge footings to reduce the cost of removal. The design also built off the existing substructure. The final bridge is a combination of new and existing infrastructure.

Less than a month after design started on the replacement project, the aging bridge beams failed. B&N quickly devised an emergency repair that included precast box beams that were shortened and reused in the final design.

Salvaging the existing foundation and reusing beams from an emergency repair in the final design cut more than $100,000 in project costs.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Indiana, contact Jeff Drake, PE.


Ohio

Design Review Cuts Costs on Improved Interchange

Diverging Diamond Interchange
Columbus, Ohio
Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)

Diverging Diamond Interchange

Following the submittal of preliminary design plans for a new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), B&N performed a Practical Design review at ODOT’s request to identify potential project cost savings. Several minor changes were identified – such as shortening a turn lane and retaining wall, narrowing the shoulder widths, and reducing roadway grading – that didn’t compromise safety yet shaved $1.2 million from the construction cost. The new DDI improved safety, reduced crashes and eased congestion.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Ohio, contact Brian Toombs, PE.

Interchange Alternative to Improve Operations, Lower Costs by $400 Million

I-70/I-71 West Interchange Reevaluation (Project 6)
Columbus, Ohio
Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)

I-70/I-71 West Interchange Reevaluation (Project 6)

To untie the traffic tangle at a heavily traveled interchange, B&N led a Practical Design study to identify a new interchange design that will improve operations, minimize project costs, and require less right-of-way.

During a series of workshops, B&N reevaluated a previously proposed interchange alternative and provided new alternatives for consideration. Design criteria that were developed in collaboration with ODOT were used to measure the performance of each proposed alternative. This included criteria such as safety, route continuity, residential and business impacts, access impacts, adherence to design standards and traffic operations.

At the conclusion of the Practical Design analysis, B&N outlined a new, five-phase interchange solution that ODOT is pursuing. The options outlined are expected to satisfy the project goals and save an estimated $400 million in construction costs.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in Ohio, contact Brian Toombs, PE.


West Virginia

Historic Bridge Rehabilitated to Serve Community

Thurmond Bridge
Thurmond, West Virginia
West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT)

Thurmond Bridge

Practical Design analysis identified the best options for rehabilitating an aging bridge located in an area of West Virginia that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The single lane bridge is cantilevered from railroad tracks and serves motorists and pedestrians.

The project goals included increasing the bridge’s load posting to 12 tons, providing safe travel on a single lane for both vehicles and pedestrians, and maintaining the historical significance. Due to its protected status, replacing the bridge wasn’t an option.

The Practical Design review determined the 12 ton posting on the bridge will be sufficient to serve the community and a higher posting would increase project costs. Cleaning and painting of the span were in the original project scope but were removed because they were deemed unnecessary and costly.

Engineers chose to rehabilitate the bridge caps instead of the entire substructure due to environmental sensitivity and access limitations. This choice provided sound structural improvements to enhance safety, at a reduced cost.

To learn more about B&N’s Practical Design expertise in West Virginia, contact Matt Lewellyn, PE.