Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
The development of a LRSP usually generates a good deal of interest, but the really challenging work happens in implementation, where identified strategies/projects are executed. It involves finding the funding or means to implement projects, prioritizing projects based on available resources, implementing the projects and determining their effectiveness, and making sure key individuals and the public remain interested and committed to the goals of the plan. In conducting research for this report, several steps surfaced that helped localities successfully implement their LRSPs. They include the following:
- Maintain buy-in and support from key stakeholders in the agency and those outside the agency (e.g., elected officials), and ensure someone is available to champion the plan throughout implementation.
- Identify funding mechanisms.
- Identify and prioritize projects based on potential effectiveness and available resources (funding, staff).
- Determine project delivery methods.
- Evaluate the project’s effectiveness in reducing fatalities and serious injuries after implementation.
- Continue active communications and coordination with agency colleagues, partner agencies, and the public.
The following sections provide a more thorough discussion of each of these steps.
Steps for Successful LRSP Implementation
It is essential to have buy-in and support for implementation from local elected officials, officials within the county and local agency implementing the plan, and key partners. Just because support was forthcoming during development does not mean it will continue during implementation specifically if there is a lag between development and implementation. Safety is just one priority facing a local agency; there may be other priorities that arise; therefore, it is important to continue to market the plan to ensure support for implementation. In addition, it is important to remember that elected officials change, so when there are new elected officials or new hires in the local agency, bring them up to speed on the LRSP, its purpose, benefits, and current implementation efforts.
Inform Leaders and Stakeholders
Keeping leaders and stakeholders informed on the LRSP is as important in implementation as it was during development. Once officials approve the LRSP and stakeholders participate in the identification of strategies and countermeasures, information sharing does not end. It is important to keep leaders and stakeholders informed about the implementation progress, achievements, and challenges on a regular basis. At the outset, remind officials and stakeholders what projects are in the plan; what funding is being sought to fund the projects; and how projects will be prioritized.
When briefing these individuals, describe the improvement and show photos or other graphics to illustrate the problem the project will address. This keeps stakeholders interested and actively involved. To keep leadership and stakeholders informed, a LRSP manager might develop and distribute an e-newsletter that provides information on current projects, success stories, and upcoming events. An annual ride along showcasing safety projects can also be conducted to inform leadership and stakeholders on the implementation progress.
The South Central Regional Safety Coalition in Louisiana, which has a regional LRSP, provides periodic updates via presentations to the area MPO board, along with information on current safety trends in the region. This helps elected officials understand safety problems in their area, which can increase buy-in for LRSP implementation.
In St. Louis County, MN the plan developer delivered an hour and a half presentation to the county board that included information on crash rates and the low-cost improvements identified in the LRSP to address those crashes.
Once implementation has occurred collect and analyze data at the location to show the impact on the traffic safety crash problem before and after implementation to show whether the project reduced those crashes.
Address Citizen Complaints/Concerns
As implementation moves forward, there may be objections or concerns raised about a particular project. The official can provide information on the benefits of a particular project or approach in a written or oral communication such as a letter, email, or phone call; they can provide general information on the improvements and why they are being done in a constituent newsletter or speak about the improvements at a community or other meeting.
In Otter Tail County, MN, for instance, citizens complained when the county installed edgeline rumble strips as part of the LRSP because they felt the rumble strips were noisy. Another criticism occurred when the county, after conducting systemic safety analysis, installed lighting in a remote area that had not experienced a severe crash problem. The county engineer was able to indicate county and agency officials supported the improvements, which helped alleviate some of the concern. Elected and agency officials in the county were fully informed about the benefits of both the edgeline rumble strips and the systemic safety approach and were able to provide information to the individuals who raised concerns.
Identify a Champion
A champion is someone who takes a leadership role in planning, promoting, and implementing the LRSP. This person is usually the individual who speaks about the plan at meetings, promotes the plan to State officials, and becomes the public face of the LRSP to officials and stakeholders. Having a champion who can articulate what is being implemented can make the process of confirming or obtaining support from key individuals easier. That champion can be a local person or someone at the State level. In most locations with LRSPs, the champion is the county engineer, county supervisor, or city engineer.
In Washington State, the champion comes from the State DOT (LTAP) and is the person who oversees all local road safety initiatives. The Washington State DOT felt this gave the individual perspective on the issues and the knowledge and authority to address related problems. The individual initially met with all the counties and got many to agree to develop and implement the LRSP. This champion provided a consistent message, helped initiate conversations with other agencies, and generated insight for improving the process overall. While several LRSPs were started with support and involvement from the DOT, other efforts were generated locally.
Obtain Support from Colleagues
In addition to backing from officials at the agency or board/county level, successful implementation also requires buy-in and support from colleagues within the local agency. The research revealed several suggestions, including maintenance, design, and construction. In each of these instances, individuals can incorporate projects from the LRSP into their work plan. For instance, maintenance can install new signage, design can include a safety edge on a local roadway, and construction personnel can install curve improvements.
In Clackamas County, OR, after the plan was developed and implementation was started, the county engineer encountered resistance for safety improvements from the maintenance crew, so maintenance was brought into discussions on project implementation.
Step 1 Recommendations
Following are recommendations that will help to maintain support and buy-in for implementation of the LRSP.
- Reach out to current and any new agency or elected officials that have changed since the plan was developed. Schedule and conduct a meeting with these individuals, if possible, or send them the LRSP document and other related information about the plan.
- Conduct on-going, regular meetings for stakeholders to keep them informed on implementation plans and progress.
- Develop a one- to two-page fact sheet on the LRSP that includes why the plan was developed (data on the traffic crash problem and the number of fatalities and serious injuries), and what type of projects are planned to address the problem.
- Request a briefing or presentation to the agency board and a meeting with the local agency officials to describe what is planned for implementation. In some cases, it may be necessary to explain why certain projects were selected.
- Collect information throughout implementation on results of implementation and make sure to share information with officials and stakeholders on a regular basis. This can be as simple as a quick email message or an e-newsletter.
- Determine where other offices within the local agency can be of assistance such as maintenance and bring them into the implementation process in the beginning so they can offer suggestions on where they can help. In fact, it may be a good idea to bring in maintenance staff during the development process since they may have ideas on what projects would fit in with their work plan.
Maintaining buy-in and support from officials and stakeholders during implementation is not a one-time activity. It is an ongoing process that needs to be maintained throughout so individuals understand what is being accomplished.
A LRSP will not have the desired effect if funding is unavailable for the plan’s identified programs and projects. In some cases, the State does not provide funding to localities for safety improvements; in others, local agencies cannot afford to meet the funding match requirements for Federal or State safety funds; in other cases, the jurisdiction does not have the staff or resources to apply for Federal and/or State funds or cannot meet those requirements if funded. Following is a description of the various funding mechanisms and how several localities and States utilized each method.
Photo courtesy of Molly O’Brien, Kimley-Horn Associates, Inc.
Research found that HSIP funds are sought for implementation of most projects in the LRSPs. While some local entities have been successful in obtaining this funding, there are challenges for local entities to apply for and obtain the financial support. Some of the key challenges associated with HSIP funding include the following:
- The State’s HSIP application process.
- HSIP funding availability for local agencies.
- Perception that the administrative burden associated with HSIP funding is difficult to manage.
HSIP Application Process
The HSIP application process can sometimes be difficult to navigate for local agencies who are not familiar with applying for HSIP funding. To encourage local agencies to apply for funding, some States have developed guidelines for the application process, while other States have had their LRSPs include HSIP applications or project sheets that mirror the HSIP application.
Florida DOT’s District 7 developed a “Local Agency Funding Guide for the Off-System Roadway” that served as a guide for the HSIP application process. This enhanced local awareness and increased the application of safety projects from three applications per year to 50+ applications.6
Caltrans developed the “Local Roadway Safety: A Manual for California’s Local Road Owners,”7 which included guidance on the HSIP application process and the types of safety improvements that could be funded under HSIP and local match requirements. To further encourage local agencies to apply for HSIP funds, Caltrans then developed SSARP to address local agency reluctance to apply for HSIP funding because it was tied to Federal funding requirements and they did not have the resources to meet those requirements. The SSARP assisted local agencies with the information needed for their HSIP application.
HSIP Funding Availability for Local Agencies
How a State allocates HSIP funding to local agencies can vary significantly. Some States utilize HSIP funding exclusively for State-maintained roads, while other States utilize a portion for local roads, and in others the State and local agencies compete.
In the past, the Arizona DOT spent 80 percent of HSIP funds on State roadway projects and 20 percent on local projects. However, a review of the crash data showed there were more fatalities on local roads than State-maintained roads, so the Arizona DOT shifted to a competitive funding process and the 80/20 State-local funding split was eliminated. Now all HSIP funding requests are evaluated based on a benefit-cost ratio for all public roads including State, local, and Tribal. After shifting to a competitive funding process based on a benefit-cost ratio, the Arizona DOT increased the number of HSIP applications. After an eligibility review, 47 HSIP applications were approved for funding. Currently the split of HSIP funds is 60 percent local, 30 percent State, and 10 percent set aside for emergencies.
North Dakota DOT offers half of the HSIP funds they receive annually to the local public agencies (LPAs) and Tribal governments to do safety improvements within their jurisdiction out of the LRSPs and Tribal Safety Plans. Projects included in the local agency’s LRSP are pre-approved for HSIP funding. The LTAP advises the LPAs and Tribal governments of the available North Dakota DOT funds. The local agency only needs to send in the application from their LRSP when they are ready to move forward with the project. This makes it easy for an agency to apply for the funding without having to fill out the application and submit the necessary data because that work was completed during the LRSP development. LTAP also conducts roadway safety training and reminds agencies to look at and use their LRSP.
Perception of HSIP Funding Being Difficult to Utilize
HSIP funding is a common form of funding for safety improvements; however, many local agencies perceive Federal funding to be more difficult to utilize than local funds for various reasons (i.e., administrative burden, limits on items the funding covers, difficulty in applying for the funds, and match requirement). In addition, they often have limited local funds to utilize as a funding match towards safety improvements when required. As such, safety projects identified in LRSPs are sometimes not implemented.
The Iowa DOT has implemented a swap of Federal funds for State funds for their HSIP secondary funding. (This is the name Iowa gives to HSIP funding which is spent on county roads. HSIP secondary funding is available for county-maintained roads.) The Iowa DOT notified counties of the change in the funding source for HSIP secondary funding and the benefits it would have for the counties. Since the swap of Federal funds for State funds has taken place, more counties are applying for HSIP secondary funding using the project sheets developed as part of their LRSP.
Behavioral Safety Funding
Photo courtesy of Brian Keierleber, Buchanan County, IA.
Some LRSPs include recommendations for both engineering and behavioral safety countermeasures within their plan. Based on a review of their data, these States and localities identify trends in crashes related to driver behavior, such as impaired or distracted driving, speeding, and lack of seat belt use. NHTSA provides highway safety grants to States to implement behavioral safety countermeasures through the SHSO. Following is a description of available NHTSA grant programs.
- Section 402 State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program – Section 402 provides grants to States to improve driver behavior and reduce fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle-related crashes in the areas of impaired driving, speeding, occupant protection, motorcycle safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, school buses, enforcement of traffic laws, traffic records, emergency services, commercial vehicle safety, and driver’s education.
- Section 405 National Priority Safety Programs – Section 405 provides grant funding to address selected national priorities for reducing highway deaths and injuries including occupant protection, State traffic safety information system improvements, impaired driving countermeasures, distracted driving, and motorcyclist safety.
- Section 154 Open Container Provision – Section 154 encourages States to enact an open container law. Although originally a transfer program, subsequent legislation amended the penalty provisions that apply to non-compliant States. Under current law, noncompliance results in reservation of the funds rather than an immediate transfer to other programs.
- Section 164 Repeat Offender Provision – Section 164 encourages States to enact a repeat offender law that provides specific minimum penalties to individuals convicted of a second or subsequent impaired driving offence. States that fail to comply with these minimum requirements have a portion of their highway funds reserved.
- Section 1906 Racial Profiling Prohibition Grants – Section 1906 provides grants to encourage States to maintain and allow public inspection of statistical information on the race and ethnicity of the driver for all motor vehicle stops made on all public roads except local or minor rural roads.”8
Behavioral safety funding is also available from private sector sources. The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council, for instance, sponsor and support Teen Safe Driving Coalitions in 10 States. These coalitions seek to establish a culture of teen safe driving based on the principles of graduated driver licensing. The Ford Motor Company’s Driving Skills for Life program helps teach newly licensed teens and their parents the necessary skills for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs.
Other Funding Sources
Photo courtesy of Brian Keierleber, Buchanan County, IA.
While HSIP is a common funding source for LRSPs, the research identified other funding sources including:
- Bicycle/pedestrian improvement funding which is provided through the Active Transportation Program (ATP), which consolidates existing Federal and State transportation programs and funding to encourage an increased use of active modes of transportation, such as biking and walking (California).
- Sign replacement programs such as the Sign Replacement Program for Cities and Counties (SRPFCC) which is conducted by the Iowa DOT’s Traffic and Safety Bureau. The program funds the replacement of damaged, worn out, obsolete or substandard signs and signposts (Iowa DOT).
- Funding from an MPO (Louisiana).
- Supplementing Tribal transportation safety funding (Nevada).
- Specialty bond programs such as Corridors of Commerce and Transportation Economic Development funding (Minnesota).
- Inclusion of the LRSP into the county’s annual budget request to ensure funding is available for implementation (Chemung County, NY).
- Local agency force account (i.e., agency staff provide the labor while Federal funds cover the materials for pedestrian signal projects) (California).
States and local agencies can also use funds from the following sources:
- Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ) – CMAQ is a flexible funding source available to State and local governments for transportation projects and programs to help meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. Funding is available to reduce congestion and improve air quality for areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon monoxide, or particulate matter (nonattainment areas) and for former nonattainment areas that are now in compliance (maintenance areas). Traffic crashes and the resulting delay contribute to congestion and poor air quality.
- Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) – TAP is a reimbursable Federal aid funding program for transportation-related community projects that strengthen the intermodal transportation system. TAP funds projects that create bicycle and pedestrian facilities and convert abandoned railway corridors to pedestrian trails. Ensuring these facilities and corridors are safe could be part of a LRSP project.
Step 2 Recommendations
When identifying funding, consider the following recommendations:
- Meet with your local agency manager or the Executive Directors of MPOs in your area to find out what funding is available locally for safety projects. For instance, there may be a Vision Zero program that has funding for pedestrian improvements. It is also a good idea to meet with that program manager to see where project and program implementation efforts match those in the LRSP.
- Meet with the relevant personnel at the DOT who administers the HSIP funding. It may be the safety engineer, but it also may be someone else. Ask the safety engineer who to contact and meet with them to discuss available funding. While HSIP will most likely be the major source of funding, there may be Federal and State funding that can be used. Familiarize yourself with these funding streams and learn what requirements are involved.
- Review the current list of capital improvement projects to determine where recommendations from the LRSP overlap with future planned projects and determine if it is possible to include the projects within the existing funding or whether budgets can be increased or modified to include the recommended safety improvements.
- Determine whether it is possible to fund portions of the LRSP through public/private partnerships. These partnerships have been utilized on the State and local level. Check with the head of your public works or transportation department, county or city manager, or State DOT safety engineer to determine whether this is something to pursue.
Being informed about available funding is not a one-time activity. As implementation of the LRSP moves forward it will be necessary to keep up to date on funding opportunities so there is no break in programs and projects getting off the ground.
Photo courtesy of Brian Keierleber, Buchanan County, IA.
Identification of LRSP projects usually takes place during the LRSP development. However, there may be a need to further identify projects during implementation which can be done through network screening and the systemic safety analysis process. Since funding and resources for implementation of LRSP projects is often limited, it is necessary to prioritize those efforts. Project prioritization makes implementation easier and helps localities determine what to submit during funding cycles. Determining what to implement is also a good opportunity to involve other stakeholders who have a unique perspective on traffic safety. Project prioritization is integral for effective LRSP implementation given the complexity of the data and limited staff and financial resources in many local jurisdictions. It may not be possible to implement every safety solution, so agencies need to prioritize projects to effectively improve safety. There are a variety of ways that projects can be identified and prioritized:
- Network screening.
- Systemic safety analysis process.
- Data analysis.
- Benefit-cost analysis.
- Cross-jurisdictional ownership.
- Link with priorities in other plans.
- Other approaches (piggy back on planned projects or policy/political reasons).
Methods of Project Identification
A network screening process is used to identify sites for further investigation and potential treatment. The intent of the process is to identify sites expected to benefit the most from targeted, cost-effective treatments. Two approaches to network screening are general utilized: a crash-based approach and a systemic approach. When using a systemic safety analysis process to complete network screening, site-specific geometric and operational attributes sites are used to select and treat sites.
Arizona DOT used a network screening process to identify the top 5 or 10 locations in each of their counties. The counties reviewed that information and decided where to implement projects from their plan. Prioritization was as simple as identifying the low hanging fruit first or projects that were easy to complete such as striping, signage and fixing sight distance issues. In fact, many LRSPs identified and implemented mainly low-cost safety improvements, (e.g., rumble strips, tree removal, signage improvements) because it enabled them to get projects implemented quickly and show how the improvements made a difference in safety.
St. Louis County, MN identified the three crash types that produced the most fatalities and serious injuries and then implemented the solutions. This allowed the county to see quick results and report success back to the county board.
Systemic Safety Analysis Process
The systemic approach to safety involves improvements that are widely implemented based on high-risk roadway features correlated with particular severe crash types. The key to the systemic approach is evaluating an entire system using a defined set of criteria, which results in an inferred prioritization that indicates some elements of the system are better candidates for safety investment than others.
The system-based approach acknowledges that crashes alone are not always sufficient to establish an implementation prioritization of countermeasures across a system. This is particularly true for many local and/or rural streets and highways with low volumes where crash densities tend to be extremely low and there are few high crash locations, and for crashes in urban areas where vehicles interact with vulnerable road users (pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles).
Determining the right projects that would yield results at the local level was a key concern of the Washington State DOT. The DOT was highly supportive of the LRSP process but wanted to ensure counties in the State had enough knowledge and information to select and implement cost-effective projects. The DOT provided each county with crash statistics, conducted training on the systemic safety analysis process and a workshop on project prioritization. Cowlitz County, WA, one of the first counties in the State to develop a LRSP, developed a list of prioritized projects based on the crash data and information gained through the workshop and training. They also provided an estimated cost for each project. This list was submitted to the DOT and the DOT made the final decision on what was implemented in the county.
Methods of Project Prioritization
Local agencies should consider the HSIP or other funding application processes prior to determining how projects are prioritized. The following sections describe how different agencies have prioritized projects in LRSPs.
Data analysis is not only used to identify project locations and appropriate countermeasures during the development of the LRSP, but it can also be used as a way to prioritize projects.
Minnesota LRSPs included a list of prioritized projects using data to determine what projects would address the most severe crash types and locations with high-risk roadway features.
Butler County, KS used data to identify high-profile intersections where there was a crash history. The fact that these locations scored the highest in the plan provided the confidence that these were the right places for a higher type of intersection control (flashing LED beacons on stop signs, advanced intersection warning signage).
According to the Highway Safety Manual (HSM), “benefit-cost analysis compares all the benefits associated with a countermeasure (e.g., crash reduction,), expressed in monetary terms, to the cost of implementing the countermeasure. A benefit-cost analysis provides a quantitative measure to help safety professionals prioritize countermeasures or projects and optimize the return on investment.”9
The Caltrans HSIP application requires projects to have a high benefit-cost ratio to be competitive in the application process. As such, projects are prioritized in SSARP based on benefit-cost analysis to be competitive for funding.
Cross Jurisdictional Ownership
One problem that can arise in implementation is cross-jurisdictional ownership. This usually occurs at an intersection where one roadway is owned by the local agency and the other by the State. While the LRSP may have made safety improvements at the intersection a priority, it may not be a priority for the State.
In Minnesota, several intersections were owned by both State and local agencies making it difficult to coordinate improvements when the two entities had different needs and priorities. The solution was to work with the State DOT to provide reasons why the local recommended improvement should be made such as addressing a high crash location for the local area.
Link With Priorities in Other Plans
There may be other plans that have prioritized projects. The State’s SHSP will have identified specific emphasis areas that the data show are the most serious traffic safety problems. In some cases, the SHSP may have prioritized projects and programs in each emphasis area which can help guide what could be prioritized in the LRSP.
In Louisiana, the nine regional safety plans use the State SHSP as a guide when they develop and implement their plans. In Northeast Ohio, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) has a plan called “SAVE: NOACA’s Plan for Transportation Safety (SAVE Plan),” which acts as the strategic plan for roadway safety in the five county Northeast region. A prioritized list of projects is included and the plan connects with other transportation plans including Safe Routes to Schools.
The FHWA HSIP Manual includes “other considerations” for project prioritization which include the ability to piggyback on already planned projects such as repaving, project readiness, and in some cases, there may be a policy or political reason to prioritize a location.
King County, WA uses crash frequency as a minimum threshold to create a list of candidate locations with point density analysis or heat maps on their GIS system. Locations are then selected based on high crash rates. In the field at each site, county personnel review signing, markings, operations, and evidence of vehicle collisions (tire rubs on curbs, vehicle debris, damaged fixed objects, broken curb, etc.). Radar is also used to evaluate travel speed. The county then determines if there is a common crash pattern to see if the problem can benefit from an engineering solution.
Arizona DOT used road safety audits (RSAs) to identify two projects which they combined. For more systemic plans, projects are implemented in those locations with the highest “star” ranking or those that have the highest risk factor score.
The Michigan DOT educates individuals who manage the regional plans in the State on what to look for when identifying systemic safety locations and to prioritize those projects based on the risk factors identified for the State.
Step 3 Recommendations
Photo courtesy of Molly O’Brien, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Following are recommendations that will help identify and prioritize projects in the LRSP.
- Utilize the appropriate methods to identify projects including network screening and systemic safety analysis. These methods can be used individually or in combination which will ensure an examination of the whole local road system.
- Refer to the data to identify what projects would address the most serious traffic safety problems.
- Use other methods to determine the advantages of implementing one project over another such as benefit-cost analysis and select those that have a higher benefit (crash reduction) in relation to the cost of implementation.
- Have a clear understanding of the funding requirements to prioritize their projects and position them for successful funding applications.
- Determine if project prioritization has already been accomplished in other safety plans including the SHSP.
After a project has secured all the necessary funding, the next step in implementing a LRSP project is project delivery. These are the steps where a locality or State takes a project from concept to completion, and then determines the impact. It is also where all requirements, particularly for Federally funded projects, are identified. Often the project delivery process for LRSP projects takes time and patience. For Otter Tail, MN it took years to go from the idea to develop a LRSP to realizing the safety benefits after implementation. It is important to commit to being in the process for the long haul. Many localities start with the low hanging fruit and low-cost safety improvements. This can lead to some quick results, which can be helpful early in the implementation process. While implementing low-cost improvements initially is a good approach, individuals who have implemented a LRSP recommend balancing those improvements with more costly projects. This can be especially important after there has been several years of LRSP implementation.
Several States have offered support to local agencies with respect to design services and design build assistance to aid in implementation. Other locations have utilized project bundling or incorporation of safety projects into on-going maintenance efforts to implement the projects in their LRSPs.
While some local agencies have staff and resources to design recommended improvements from their LRSP in-house or with consultants, other agencies lack the resources to prepare design documents.
The Minnesota DOT felt it would be difficult for each county in the State to implement the improvements identified in their LRSP without outside help, so the DOT provided preliminary engineering assistance from an outside contractor to counties who requested help in implementation.
To get projects off the ground and implemented, the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO) offered final design assistance and served as project managers for consultant-led design services after selecting and approving projects for the local safety program. Applicants could request assistance by checking a box as part of their HSIP application. The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) also provided design assistance and support for the construction authorization process in their local safety program.10
Design-build is when a locality or State will design and build a project concurrently, which consolidates the process. While this approach can be more economical and get the project constructed faster, it can be challenging for a locality that may not have the personnel to manage this task.
Florida DOT’s District 7, in collaboration with FHWA Florida Division, developed a Design-Build Push Button framework that allowed the local agencies to request the use of a contractor to install preapproved safety measures. The contractor expedited the construction of simple or low-cost safety improvement projects and reduced the potential fatalities or serious injuries during the implementation period.11
One approach that can lessen the financial and management burden for local agencies is project bundling. Project bundling can occur in several different ways: multiple projects of the same type within one agency can be bundled together or multiple agencies can bundle projects together. Project bundling is a way for multiple local agencies or the State and a local agency to come together and implement similar projects on roadways across multiple jurisdictions. For instance, a jurisdiction could make their project part of a larger State effort such as a pavement marking or rumble strip installation.
Keokuk County, IA used project bundling to complete multiple projects that were similar in nature and near each other. These were mainly low-cost safety improvements such as clearing and grubbing the clear zone, wider edge lines, and rumble strips. Lee County in Iowa utilized their top 10 scoring intersections identified in their LRSP, based on a risk factor ranking, and bundled them together as one project.
In Minnesota, adjacent counties partnered to submit projects across their roadway network. St. Louis County, MN used project bundling to reduce unit costs, which provided treatment for more miles of roadways at a lesser cost. The Minnesota DOT recently received an application that included implementation of destination lighting at 300 intersections. Usually the agency with more experience and the agency that can handle the cash flow and engineering takes the lead on implementation, making it easier for localities without the same resources or confidence to implement the project. The Minnesota DOT is receiving one to two applications including project bundling each year.
San Diego, CA is completing a project where they bundled 60 to 70 intersections together to implement leading pedestrian intervals as a result of the SSARP.
On-going maintenance can be utilized for project implementation. Maintenance crews generally possess detailed knowledge of every section of the local agency’s roads, including current problem areas and those likely to be problematic in the future. While maintenance crews have an extensive knowledge of the agency’s system, there sometimes might not be a clear line of communication between engineering and maintenance. A LRSP can provide an avenue for open dialog between the county engineer and maintenance staff and can lead to implementation of safety projects.
Projects can be implemented by integrating them with resurfacing, restoration, and preservation efforts. As noted in the publication “Good Practices: Incorporating Safety into Resurfacing and Restoration Projects,” State and local transportation agencies have ongoing programs to improve safety and preserve the serviceability of pavement surfaces. Integrating safety improvements into resurfacing is a resource-efficient method of pursuing infrastructure and safety goals.12
In Keokuk County, IA, individuals leading the LRSP got the maintenance staff involved in the implementation process by selecting projects that could be completed through regular maintenance. The LRSP provided an opportunity to talk to maintenance staff about the recommendations and how a lot of what they are already doing is for safety. Maintenance staff can also use the opportunity to talk about areas of concern that they have within the county and discuss potential safety improvements.
One of the recommendations in the Otter Tail County, MN safety plan was increasing the edgeline to a 6-inch edgeline. A 6-inch wide edge line is now standard practice for all on-going striping projects. In addition, Safety Edge is being implemented as part of all paving contracts. None of this would have been possible without maintenance support.
Other Project Delivery Methods
Other project delivery methods that have been successfully utilized for implementation include:
- The State DOT completes projects identified in the LRSPs that intersect with State roadways so local agencies and Tribal governments do not have to implement them (North Dakota).
- The local public agency delivers a project using force accounts (Mississippi).
- State DOT funds the replacement of signs that are damaged, worn out, obsolete or substandard (Iowa).
Step 4 Recommendations
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
There are several creative ways that LRSP projects can be implemented through different project delivery methods including the following:
- State DOTs assist local agencies with design help (either in-house or from consultants) or by offering design build assistance to aid in a more streamlined way to implement projects.
- Project bundling is an innovative way to implement projects from the LRSPs. Some agencies bundle similar projects or projects near each other, while other agencies have bundled projects across multiple jurisdictions.
- On-going maintenance is utilized for completing projects and recommendations that can be completed as part of routine maintenance projects.
Agencies should also consider the project delivery methods identified to aid with implementation of their LRSPs.
Outcome and Output Evaluation
It would be difficult to determine if funds were invested in the right projects at the right places without evaluating the effectiveness of safety projects after completion. Data is used to track the effectiveness and to monitor progress in implementing the LRSP. For example, a plan may have established specific fatality and serious injury objectives and data are used to determine whether those objectives are being met. In this instance, the objective may be to reduce fatalities and serious injuries by two percent per year during the life of the LRSP. Data is then used to compare the objectives to the actual numbers. If objectives are not in the LRSP, data can also be used to determine progress and whether there has been reductions in crashes. It usually takes some time for the impact of engineering and behavioral improvements to have an impact but when viewed over a period of several years, trends can show whether reductions in fatalities or serious injuries have occurred after the implementation of the plan started. This information can then be used to educate State and local officials as well as the public on the value of the LRSP and how it is making a difference. This return on investment is important to local elected and agency officials.
Existing conditions data analysis and collection happens during the LRSP development process. However, a lack of comprehensive local road crash data along with an inability to adequately analyze that data make it difficult for localities to evaluate the effectiveness of projects implemented as part of their LRSP. For most localities, this could involve project-level evaluation using a simple before-after analysis. Before implementing a project, agencies obtain data on the crash problem (usually fatalities and serious injuries) and after the project is implemented, they collect data again to determine if there was an impact on the safety problem. This simple before-after analysis can help the jurisdiction determine the crash modification factors for the identified location.
King County, WA uses a benefit-cost analysis to determine the effectiveness of the LRSP projects. During development, projects were identified based on crash rate history. The county publishes a report every four years, with a two-year supplement in between that matches the county budget cycle to show progress.
There are other ways to evaluate the success of the LRSP effort. Iowa DOT believes one of their accomplishments is the number of counties that are implementing elements of their LRSP as part of their daily business. The DOT feels this makes the plan worthwhile because the county has taken the initiative to implement best practices and safety improvements as part of their future projects and on-going maintenance.
In Minnesota, the DOT has defined success as the 85-90 percent of the counties that have implemented a project from the LRSP. The DOT receives over 100 applications for funding each year.
Evaluation can also identify potential opportunities and inform future decision making, which can lead to process changes. Local agencies respond to citizen complaints, but it is important to have data on hand to show that what the agency is implementing will have a lasting and beneficial impact on safety. A citizen might complain about a “dangerous” intersection, but an examination of the data could reveal the location was not an issue from a crash perspective.
Step 5 Recommendations
Conducting an evaluation on projects after they are implemented can be valuable to educate and obtain support from the community for implementation of future projects. Additionally, the evaluation results can help agencies determine what types of projects to focus on for future efforts.
- Update the Plan: As conditions in a county or region change, it will be necessary to change the LRSP. In Minnesota, several counties are already looking to revise their plans because they have implemented most projects. Establishing a regular update process may be worthwhile. The average number for most other safety plans is five years.
- Identify Metrics: There should be some way to measure the impact of the LRSP. Reductions in fatalities and serious injuries are the major metric that indicates whether the plan is successful, but there may be other ways to determine success. Identifying output measures, for instance, that indicate the level of activity such as the miles of rumbled strips installed or the number of curves that have been modified are ways to show progress.
- Expand stakeholders: It will always be necessary to update the stakeholders who are involved in the LRSP. In addition to replacing stakeholders who have retired or moved to other jobs, look to include people who have not been involved previously. For instance, it may be a good idea to involve law enforcement or representatives from the SHSO as implementation moves forward.13
Implementation requires greater emphasis on marketing and communication to keep interest in the LRSP active and alive. This activity can be regular email communications updating officials on the progress on implementation or a more formal newsletter that highlights progress on implementation.
Market the benefits of the plan and its implementation.
Inform people how data-driven analysis is used to target the right locations.
Use data to highlight how the plan is improving safety.
Let people know how funding is allocated to support projects like wider shoulders and rumble strips.
Revisit the LRSP’s vision and mission.
Coordination with DOT and LTAP
Marketing and outreach should occur throughout LRSP development and implementation process. However, it was apparent from the research that several localities are expanding their efforts and reaching out more often to their partners. Often localities that have developed and are now implementing LRSPs have close working relationships with the DOT and the LTAP.
In North Dakota, the LTAP advised local agencies on available funding and provided roadway safety training to help with implementation. In Louisiana, the LTAP assisted with the road safety assessments and provided technical assistance to identify and implement infrastructure improvement projects.14
In Wisconsin the LTAP provided technical support to local agencies on project applications, coordinated data collection and analysis, and helped local agencies make informed decision about safety projects. In Michigan, the LTAP provided free technical support in coordinating safety projects with the State.15
Outreach to Other Stakeholders
Several localities are looking to other stakeholders such as law enforcement and behavioral highway safety specialists to broaden implementation of the LRSP by bringing in different perspectives on highway safety problems. Examples of this different perspective can be information on what law enforcement sees as they travel the roadways or what they have found when investigating a crash. Behavioral safety specialists may have ideas on how the LRSP can help change the safety culture in the locality or region by also focusing on road user behavior issues. Data analysis completed as part of development of the LRSP will reveal trends in crashes related to driver behavior. In addition to specific behavioral countermeasures such as law enforcement, engineering improvements can also help change behavior, such as installing rumble strips to help drivers stay focused, and engineering can reduce the severity of a crash when it happens, i.e., removing trees and other obstacles.
Champaign County, OH used a unique way to reach out to stakeholders called the C-H-A-R-M process:
C – Communicate with phone, emails, announcements; follow-up with thank you and outcomes.
H – Help, ask for it.
A – Activist – actively participate and volunteer for other groups.
R – Relationships – know who you are talking to and make a connection with them.
M – Motivate – make it personal.
Champaign County also had some good tips in dealing with stakeholders including to set a schedule and keep it; capture progress and distribute it; ask for feedback, but be targeted about what is needed; and ask how things can be improved or what else can be done. Their LRSP only included infrastructure projects due to budget limitations, but they are now looking to reach out and make an impact on drunk drivers and young drivers. The county engineer, who led the development of the LRSP, will be contacting the local sheriff and school personnel.
Chemung County, NY identified potential stakeholders across twenty different professional areas to serve as an advisory group to their LRSP. The county also took advantage of every opportunity to speak in front of New York State assembly members who were champions for critical infrastructure and other transportation projects.
Clackamas County, OR worked with their Safe Communities Coalition, which brought people together to talk about common goals. It provided support for the infrastructure projects in the plan and identified behavioral programs, which helped the county implement their LRSP. The county now has a shared initiative with the Health Department through a health and transportation planner. It has generated a broader understanding of a safe systems approach, which differs from conventional safety practice by improving safety through environmental changes rather than relying solely on behavior. It also addresses risk with a comprehensive range of tools including vehicles, roadways, speeds, and behavior.
Safe systems are designed to anticipate human behavior and accommodate errors by drivers and other road users. For example, a safe systems approach recognizes that distraction may prevent a driver from seeing a pedestrian or vice versa. Separating pedestrians from traffic when possible prevents predictable errors leading to death or serious injury. Safe systems are also designed to reduce or eliminate opportunities for crashes that result in forces beyond human endurance. An example would be a crosswalk where pedestrians and vehicles occupy the same space. Reducing speed limits or changing the road design can prevent crashes. The effort is proactively changing the culture.
Washington State DOT is currently working with the SHSO to look for additional partners for the LRSP implementation, which is helping turn the current engineering-focused plans into something more comprehensive.
In Minnesota, some of the county plans work with Regional Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) coordinators who aid in marketing efforts. Many counties in the State reached out to Safe Communities programs. In Otter Tail County, MN, for instance, the sheriff was the champion of the Safe Communities program and emergency medical services (EMS) were at the table from the beginning. This started a review of all fatalities in the county, including State roads, that is still ongoing.
Step 6 Recommendations
Photo of 2018 LRSP workshop at Wisconsin Dells courtesy of FHWA.
To keep communication going and the LRSP at the forefront and ensure greater coordination consider the following:
- Ensure everyone is on board, and all stakeholders are accounted for including representation from the 4Es of safety – engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency medical services.
- Message across communication channels and programs so all available communication channels are used to promote the safety message (e.g., news, social media, television, industry associations, and videos).
- Meet with elected officials and attend committee and board meetings and workshops; prepare hot topic memos on emerging safety issues (e.g., pedestrian fatalities, and intersection crashes).
- Host conferences/webinars to keep a focus/awareness on local road safety
- Minnesota TZD meetings includes representatives from the 4Es.
- The Arizona Safety Summit includes a focus on rural transportation.
- Develop a newsletter or e-newsletter or memorandum that can be sent to all stakeholders updating them on implementation progress. This can include a description of projects that have started along with photos whenever possible, information on changes in traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the jurisdiction, or even extraordinary safety efforts by 4E partners such as a local police officer who had an outstanding arrest record for impaired drivers. The county public information officer may be willing to help set up the newsletter and even aid in compilation and distribution.
- Request and conduct regular presentations on the LRSP to the county, city, or regional board or council. These presentations can describe projects being implemented, provide any results when available, or information on new crash or safety trends. For instance, agencies may want to report on any increases in fatalities or serious injuries such as a spike in pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
- Post photographs, graphs or charts on the jurisdiction’s web site or Facebook page. These can be photographs of the safety projects being started or updated fatality and serious injury charts.
- When you learn that a project may generate public opposition or criticism, it may be a good idea to schedule a meeting with the chair of your board or council and send follow up written documentation to let them know what you are doing, why it is important to improve safety, and why it may generate criticism. It is also important to engage the public and educate them about the benefits of safety solutions.
7 2020. Caltrans, Local Roadway Safety A Manual for California’s Local Road Owners – California, 2020.
12 December 2006. Good Practices: Incorporating Safety into Resurfacing and Restoration Projects, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-SA-07-001, Washington, DC.
13 Practical Tips & Tools for Developing a Local Road Safety Plan, National Center on Rural Road Safety, Winter 2019.
15 August 2016. FHWA Roadway Safety Professional Capacity Building program, Local Road Safety Data Analysis Approaches Peer Exchange, August 2016.