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ACTT Workshop: Nevada
Project NEON: Connecting Commuters

Chapter 3: Skill Set Recommendations

3.1. Environmental Planning

The environmental planning skill set focused on how the environmental process could pave the way for a successful construction project. Since the EIS is in the early stages, the group made the following suggestions for preparing a legally defensible document.

Purpose and Need
  • Need more detailed description of no-build condition.
  • Need to identify what projects will go forward without this project (city of Las Vegas projects, other freeway projects, etc.).
  • Need future traffic counts and draft traffic analysis.
  • Need safety data, including statistics on accidents from weaving action.
  • Need to determine if redevelopment area access accounts for additional traffic.
Evaluation Criteria
  • Need a definition of the criteria applied to the potential alternatives; it appears that some alternatives that do not meet the purpose and need were carried forward.
  • Need to eliminate alternatives prior to having a completed purpose and need statement.
Existing Conditions
  • Need to identify population, land use and zoning.
  • Need to review safety and accident data.
  • Need to acknowledge that previous environmental documents are dated.
  • Need to include through freight analysis.

The following topics were identified during the workshop as key issues to be addressed during preparation of the EIS. The team discussed ways that the EIS could accommodate construction activities due to early planning.

Noise
  • Develop uniform theme for aesthetics of noise walls.
  • Create buffer areas, if possible.
  • Evaluate material types and other measures (i.e., insulation).
  • Create long design life of structures.
  • Build early in the construction phase.
Air Quality
  • Recognize that new guidance could be issued as a result of the US 95 EIS lawsuit.
Local Circulation and Access
  • Evaluate alternative access routes for First Presbyterian Church.
  • Accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.
Land Use
  • Discuss zoning requirements for business relocations: special zoning is required for industrial and adult entertainment businesses.
  • Commit to early development of a business relocation plan, including coordination with the city of Las Vegas to identify areas with suitable zoning.
Environmental Justice
  • Promote community cohesion - include daycares, medical centers and transit providers in the process.
  • Coordinate with other NDOT and city of Las Vegas projects, and consider early construction of replacement housing.
Construction Timing
  • Recognize that coordination of utility relocations will be key.
  • Construct noise walls during the first phase.
  • Construct replacement housing, if necessary, as early as possible.

3.2. Public Involvement

The public involvement skill set reviewed the public outreach process to date with the goal of providing input to help the project team implement a successful public involvement program for the remainder of the project. The team emphasized the importance of a proactive program both before and during construction. The skill set developed a detailed list of public outreach techniques that could be utilized as part of PROJECT NEON, noting that NDOT needs to stay abreast of technological advances at all times.

Communication Needs
  • Include public information officers (PIOs) in decision making with high-impact project elements.
  • Establish a communications budget (4 to 6 percent of total project cost) as part of the congestion mitigation plan.
  • Dedicate full-time communications specialists to this project.

The team focused on a grass-roots/communication outreach approach and made recommendations for using newspaper, radio, billboards, newsletters, a project web site, e-mail queues and other techniques accordingly.

Grass Roots Outreach - Create Audience Matrix
  • Commuters.
  • Residents.
  • Businesses.
  • Travel and tourism industry.
  • Employers (including interstate and local trucking companies).
  • Federal, State and local government officials.
  • Special interest groups (i.e., pedestrians, cyclists and the homeless).
  • Media professionals.
Communications Outreach - Commuters
  • Air radio spots during peak drive times.
  • Create strategically placed billboards.
  • Use variable and dynamic message signs (VMS/DMS) for real-time travel/incident information and construction updates.
  • Install Highway Advisory Radio (HAR).
  • Use the media for news releases and media advisories.
Communications Outreach - Residents
  • Target schools and daycares.
  • Publish quarterly newsletters.
  • Create a project web site.
  • Use direct mailings.
  • Utilize cable and government television.
  • Distribute door hangers and fliers.
  • Consider statement mailers in utility bills.
Communications Outreach - Business
  • Establish a business advisory group to provide input regarding business and economic implications affecting the project now.
  • Establish a list of impacted businesses.
    • Use an e-mail queue for project updates.
    • Mail quarterly project newsletters.
    • Invite them to participate in the planning process by attending public information meetings.
    • Address business concerns promptly during construction (i.e., noise, access, closures).
Communications Outreach - Travel and Tourism Industry

Communicate regularly with the following entities, using special events as appropriate:

  • Las Vegas Convention Visitors Authority.
  • Nevada Tourism Agency.
  • Welcome centers.
  • Hotel industry.
    • Use room confirmation e-mails to provide project updates.
    • Provide project information on hotel TV broadcasts.
  • Car rental industry.
  • Bus, taxi and limousine services.
Communications Outreach - Employers
  • Partner with regional rideshare agencies to help employers implement onsite transportation programs.
  • Encourage carpooling with preferential parking spaces at employers' facilities.
  • Coordinate with employer newsletters to provide project updates.
  • Provide credible real-time travel information to empower drivers.
  • For interstate through-traffic, use ITS tools, the Incident Manager Pager Service and the 511 system to provide real-time traffic and project information.
  • For local deliveries, utilize peak drive time radio spots, outreach to businesses providing or receiving deliveries, 511 and trade association publications.
Communications Outreach - Federal, State and Local Government Officials
  • Establish an e-mail queue.
  • Organize "hard hat" tours once the project begins.
  • Participate in town hall meetings.
  • Provide personalized project update briefings.
Communications Outreach - Special Interest Groups
  • Work with advocacy groups for each of the identified target audiences (pedestrians, cyclists and the homeless) to address their needs and keep them informed.
Communications Outreach - Media Professionals
  • Meet periodically with editorial boards.
  • E-mail press releases and media advisories to established contacts.
  • Establish relationships with traffic reporters.
  • Hold press update meetings.
  • Involve the media in milestone events.

The team also offered their thoughts on enhancing construction from a public relations standpoint.

Congestion Management Plan
  • Remove vehicles from corridor.
  • Enhance alternative commute options.
  • Consider special events during construction.
  • Respond quickly to incidents.
  • Improve flow on local area roads.
Reducing Volumes of Traffic during Construction
  • Explore alternate routes.
  • Coordinate with trucking industry to encourage use of alternate routes.
  • Improve local arterials (i.e., turn-lane improvements and signalization).
  • Explore use of one lane for carpools and buses.
  • Partner with RTC to increase transit during construction period.
Potential Issues
  • Minimizing construction noise.
  • Educating motorists on how to navigate through the project during various construction phases, ramp closings, etc.
  • Keeping traffic moving - use tow trucks to tow stalled/abandoned vehicles.
  • Having an emergency management team to address incidents.

3.3. Roadway Geometrics

The roadway geometrics skill set reviewed the I-15 lanes assumed for the PROJECT NEON design and stated that the proposed 5-5 for the south end and the proposed 4-4 for the north end are what should be used.

The team recommended a C-D system over the current hybrid configuration with the following notations:

  • A braided C-D could also be considered.
  • The current hybrid creates problems:
    • Freeway weaving is an issue.
    • Nine mainline lanes are undesirable.
    • At I-15 southbound and Charleston, there are three on-ramps and four lane additions without adequate spacing.
  • If the C-D were built first, it would give full access to the local interchange during construction.
  • There would be no "throw away."

The geometrics team addressed the following issues as well:

Roadway Crown: Mainline Freeway Crown vs. Planer Incline
  • NDOT does not have a standard for freeways this wide: most states only take four lanes in each crown direction. NDOT needs to address sheet flow drainage and constructibility issues.
Northbound to US 95 Ramp Entrance
  • Shift the on-ramp north.
  • Shift the Sahara ramp tighter.
  • Improve ramp separation (US 95 and Sahara).
  • Minimize the impact to the Gentlemen's Club.
Charleston Northbound
  • Reverse the ramp locations of the Charleston northbound off-ramp and the northbound C-D to reduce single point intersection size.
The I-15 Profile at Charleston
  • Crown the freeway.
  • Turn the signal heads horizontally.
  • Consider SPUI versus tight diamond configuration.
  • Consider non-falsework bridge construction.
MLK Boulevard
  • Make the MLK bridge dual bridges.
    • Separate columns would allow for optimal placement.
    • Dual structures would minimize spacing requirements.
    • Dual bridges would shorten the bridge depths.
    • The change would reduce the overall height of the flyover.
  • Consider two lanes in each direction on the bridge instead of the current three lanes. This would save money without decreasing capacity.
  • Make transit signals a priority: the existing signalized intersections limit capacity.
    • Consider queue jumps.
    • Use green-phase extensions.
  • Eliminate the I-15 northbound to MLK movement: MLK traffic can get there via the I-15 northbound to Alta ramp.
  • Use the existing MLK ramp to provide access from the northbound C-D road to northbound US 95.
    • This solves the capacity problem on the I-15 northbound to US 95 northbound flyover ramp. That ramp is a segmental bridge and cannot be widened.
Oakey and Wyoming
  • Straighten the alignment to Oakey.
  • Minimize the skew on four bridges (I-15 and C-Ds).
  • Maintain continuity on Oakey.
  • Consider traffic calming east of Las Vegas Boulevard.

The group also recommended using the existing US 95 southbound to I-15 southbound ramp to connect to the southbound I-15 C-D.

3.4. Traffic, ITS and Safety

The traffic, ITS and safety skill set spent considerable time discussing how PROJECT NEON relates to regional system studies. They determined that a regional freeway system plan, a regional high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) system plan and an inter-modal transit system plan are needed.

Further, the group made several recommendations concerning everything from construction phasing to traffic management and public outreach:

Construction Phasing
  • Construct MLK relocation/overpass early to enhance local road network.
  • Construct C-D freeway section and utilize it to maintain traffic and allow for closure of mainline I-15.
  • Look at incentives for certain key milestones that represent full completion.
  • Consider possible parallel multiple contracts.
  • Designate a construction program manager (CPM) to coordinate multiple contracts.
  • Separate all ITS procurements from construction projects.
ITS/Freeway Management
  • Integrate with the regional Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST) and the regional concept for operating freeways and arterials.
  • Utilize work zone ITS during construction. Integrate with FAST.
  • Use construction traffic management center (TMC) to operate onsite ITS.
  • Use ramp meters.
  • Use DMS messages that include information on alternate route travel time for freeways and arterials.
  • Install and use HAR - maybe just temporarily.
  • Make sure the 511 system has up-to-date project information.
  • Have a separate ITS contract with on-call services for both construction maintenance and final installation.
Traffic Incident Management (TIM)

The skill set recommended developing a regional incident management program that includes several elements:

  • Quick clearance policy.
  • Responder safety.
  • Methods for reducing secondary accidents:
    • Use construction freeway service patrol.
    • Contract for quick wrecker service for large trucks.
    • Coordinate with FAST for detours and closures.
    • Coordinate work zone TIM through the traffic control manager.
    • Train construction staff in incident management.
Managing Truck Traffic
  • Limit through trucks during construction.
  • Coordinate deliveries, off peak.
    • Need models that account for future operating procedures such as ramp metering scale simulation).
    • Need to coordinate regional freeway and arterial construction activities (Beltway, I-15, etc.).
    • Need signing plans, both in the final design and through construction.
Local Road Improvements
  • Consider signal re-timing, with specific plans just for incidents and others for detours.
  • Consider turn-lane improvements.
  • Coordinate with other local road projects that might benefit the project corridor.
  • Provide limited service patrols on key arterials.
  • Provide bus/transit ways on select arterials.
Travel Demand Management
  • Use temporary HOV during construction.
  • Promote an express bus service.
  • Consider employer incentive programs (i.e., preferred parking).
  • Look at shifting/staggering work schedules for major employers along the corridor.
Public Outreach
  • Assign a public information manager for the project.
  • Establish positive interaction with TV and radio.
  • Provide detailed education program for tourists (at airports, hotels, etc.).
  • Develop and maintain a construction web site.

3.5. Bridge Structures

The bridge structures skill set focused on accelerating the construction of structures, which will require deviation from standard practices for both design and construction, making a systems approach vital to PROJECT NEON's success. The team offered both general structures and materials recommendations as well as site-specific counsel.

Prefabricated Elements/High Performance Materials
  • Standardize design.
  • Optimize foundation type.
  • Use lightweight embankments.
  • Use temporary bridge structures.
  • Use a precast rigid frame for grade separation.
  • Use prefabricated bridge systems and heavy lift equipment for superstructure placement.
  • Consider using concrete and/or steel
Site-Specific Recommendations:
  • Build C-D first and use it as a detour for mainline traffic.
  • Review Sahara overpass for incorporation into new work.
  • Consider the following for the MLK/Industrial North alternative:
    • Maintain a depressed section to lower bridge height.
    • Consider a siphon at the depressed section.
    • Eliminate the ramp from MLK to Grand Central Parkway.
  • Provide dedicated through lanes on the elevated viaduct to add capacity and reduce row:
    • Build piers in median.
    • Erect prefabricated pier segment.
    • Use segmental superstructure erection.

3.6. Right-of-Way and Utilities

The right-of-way and utilities skill set focused on the areas of acquisition, relocation and utilities and made the following recommendations:

  • Leave Gentlemen's Club (Treasures) alone or rebuild.
  • Clean up ROW ownership along MLK.
  • Follow up with tenants after residential and commercial survey is complete.
  • Reconsider NDOT policy of advance acquisition.
  • Provide acquisition incentives/tenant relocation bonuses.
  • Acquire easements for utilities to expedite the process.
  • Acquire houses or rent apartments in the neighborhood as they become available for use as replacement housing.
  • Buy the additional property needed to mitigate acquisitions (e.g., parking for Treasures). Document these mitigations (EIS).
  • Get advance corridor for NV Power transmission line relocation.
  • Plan for advance relocation of as many utilities as possible.
  • Continue the concept of avoidance of utilities.
  • Look into wall hydrants for fire suppression and safety.
  • Consider level A SUE (Subsurface Utility Engineering) to be used at structure crossings and drainage facilities.
  • Coordinate utility betterments with utility companies well ahead of time and include with the contract.
  • Combine and consolidate utility relocations.
  • Whatever is in the 30 percent should stay in design as it applies to UPRR.
  • Keep drainage away from UPRR RPW.
  • Make Charleston under UPRR a separate project. It should not be a part of this project.

3.7. Construction and Innovative Contracting

The construction and innovative contracting skill set spent considerable time discussing contract packaging and concluded that a single large contract would be the preferred alternative: it would minimize conflicts and reduce overall construction time and user impacts.

If packaging PROJECT NEON as a single contract isn't possible, NDOT could award several smaller contracts that would allow smaller companies to bid. The team noted that utilities, drainage and demolition could be broken out and performed in advance, providing for quick progress on the project. If a single contract is awarded, staged State funding would be required and there would likely be pressure from local contractors and the Associated General Contractors, or AGC. Bonding capacity issues, along with NDOT's lack of experience in administering large contracts, need to considered when evaluating contract packaging options.

The team also discussed the advantages of design-build, conventional and construction manager at risk delivery:

Conventional Delivery
  • Pros
    • Gives more control to NDOT because of their understanding of the process.
    • Offers greater contractor familiarity (both a pro and a con).
    • Provides greater agency control.
    • Provides flexibility for scope changes.
  • Cons
    • Uses multiple points of contact, with NDOT in the middle.
    • Increases project duration (vs. design-build).
    • Limits contractor innovation and flexibility.
    • Reduces NDOT's ability to shift the risk to the contractor.
    • Has the potential for contract costs to escalate.
Design-Build
  • Pros
    • Provides shortest project duration - design and construction overlap.
    • Maximizes contractor innovation and flexibility.
    • Minimizes agency risk by shifting it to the contractor.
    • Offers greater cost certainty up front.
    • Offers "best value"-based selection of contractor.
    • Provides a single point of contact.
  • Cons
    • Requires a shift in focus for agency engineering staff.
    • Requires a culture change for NDOT.
    • Presents staged funding issues for NDOT.
    • Will likely cause local contractor/AGC concern.
    • Brings risks associated with scope changes
Construction Manager (CM) at Risk
  • Pros
    • Offers greater cost certainty: the risk is intermediate.
    • Provides a negotiated guaranteed maximum price (GMP).
    • Provides flexibility to GMP contingency.
    • Puts onus on the CM to complete construction and related elements.
    • Makes the CM responsible for any costs over the GMP.
  • Cons
    • Needs more research/research is pending.
    • Has limited highway construction exposure.
    • Requires a culture change for NDOT.
    • Requires NDOT to mediate design versus construction.
    • Shifts the intermediate risk to the contractor

The team also made several recommendations regarding technical issues:

Administration
  • Utilize a dispute review board (DRB).
  • Evaluate delegated levels of authority.
  • Provide incentives and/disincentives, i.e., time (A+B, A+B+C, project milestones), performance (lane rental, traffic management) and materials (performance-based specs).
Construction Sequence and Phasing
  • Construct MLK and C-Ds prior to main line.
  • Reduce local/interstate interface.
  • Use movable barrier systems to counter flow/shifts.
  • Reroute through traffic off project.
  • Consider short-term closures of main line and major ramps.
  • Utilize work zone ITS and public outreach to minimize traffic in work area and maximize safety.
Technical
  • Recycle/reuse existing materials.
    • PCCP/embankments.
    • Sahara flyover.
  • Use precast/prefabricated components and self-consolidating concrete.
  • Consider contractor quality control, maturity meters and MIT for PCCP.

Finally, the team recommended a cost/risk analysis, including an evaluation of the possible integration of schedules for Las Vegas-area projects, contractor availability and sequencing of design and construction activities.

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Updated: 10/31/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000