The Big Picture
America has more transportation needs than available resources. Aging infrastructure. Increased urban densities. Growing multi-modal and stakeholder expectations. All in an environment where transportation systems and projects are increasingly viewed as a critical part of the solution to community challenges and social injustices, as well as an essential component to economic growth and prosperity.
Transportation system owners play what should be a relatively simple game. Select the projects, fund the program, and then execute the program. So why do so many organizations struggle with the development and delivery of their projects and program? How can we make it better?
Most transportation organizations have an abundance of data that varies widely in accuracy and historical significance, much of which is siloed in stand-alone systems. Grasping the value of creating enterprise-wide data sets, in order to realize the resulting synergistic insights can be overwhelming. Consequently, many remain data-rich, but information poor.
Others, however, are embracing a strategic, data-driven approach that drives efficiency and increases their return on investment.
Forward-leaning organizations are leveraging data to transition away from subjective considerations in project selection.
Funding programs are increasingly emphasizing objective criteria established to address focused goals more effectively. These can span from congestion relief in urban corridors to economic development in rural areas to critical safety improvements to incorporating a wide range of local or regional concerns. Potential projects are scored using the weighted criteria. This score, often summarized in a benefitcost calculation, then becomes the basis for project selection decisions.
Meaningful benefit-cost comparisons rely on consistent and accurate data. The project’s triple constraint of budget, scope, and schedule all must be considered.
The days of hand-picking projects and then blindly applying standard solutions are fading due to current economic realities. The problem should be clearly defined, and then matched with a focused, performance-based design solution. This tailored scope enables a more realistic schedule and estimate. All of which can be reflected in the benefit-cost analysis to ensure the right projects and solutions are being selected to optimize the impact of limited resources. Organizations embracing this riskbased project selection approach are experiencing reduced scope creep and more efficient project development.