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Project Overview and Lessons Learned

Project Overview

ADOT’s HfL project consisted of reconstruction of a 3.5-mi segment of SR 179 from milepost 310.5 to 313.8 (junction with SR 89A), which included part of SR 89A from milepost 374.0 to 374.2, in Sedona. SR 179 passes through one of the most pristine and unique scenic areas in the world (figure 1). The project included the only bridge over Oak Creek, a designated unique and protected waterway. The economy of this incredibly beautiful area is driven primarily by tourism, with annual visitation in the 3 to 4 million range.

Figure 1. Scenic areas surrounding the SR 179 corridor.

Figure 1. Scenic areas surrounding the SR 179 corridor.

In this tourist-oriented economy, services and trade provide 70 percent of the total employment in the area. SR 179 is the only route connecting the business and residential communities of the village of Oak Creek and the city of Sedona. In addition, SR 179 provides an important intercity link for residents, commuters, and commercial traffic in the Sedona–Verde Valley region.

After exploring many alternatives and evaluating the project and user costs, ADOT chose to consult with the residents and businesses in the community for the reconstruction of SR 179 through the NBIP process. ADOT initiated the NBIP to design and reconstruct SR 179 by using the context-sensitive design process to seek community input, thoughts, and ideas before the project began. Reconstruction of SR 179 in northern Arizona was a great success, and ADOT was able to complete the project while maintaining a steady flow of traffic and achieving user satisfaction.

Strategies that helped ADOT achieve its goal included the following:

  • Implementation of a comprehensive public outreach campaign to keep residents and businesses informed of construction progress and traffic impacts. This process went beyond conventional public meetings, resulting in a more informed and cooperative public. This included an aggressive tourist education and notification effort that informed visitors how to get around in Sedona and Oak Creek during the construction period.
  • Dramatically minimizing traffic disruptions and maintaining continuous traffic flow through careful construction sequencing of the roundabouts (by building half of the roundabouts at a time) and staged construction of Oak Creek Bridge. The project strived to continuously maintain business access throughout the construction period by constructing half of the driveways at a time instead of blocking the entire stretch with construction.
  • Implementation of performance-based contracting through lane rental that discouraged lane closures and encouraged the contractor with financial incentives to keep one lane in each direction of traffic open at all times.
  • Consultation with residents and businesses on the design and reconstruction of SR 179 through the NBIP process and the use of context-sensitive solutions to seek input and feedback before the project began.
  • The use of L-shaped cantilever walls to minimize right-of-way impacts and total takes of residences.
  • Implementation of a new project management system that enabled the same project team to work with the community during all phases of project development, design, and construction.
  • Implementation of an innovative pilot program to train local law enforcement on enforcing the laws in and around the construction zone.
  • Use of foamed concrete (lightweight fill) to reduce the dead load on an existing box culvert. This allowed extension of the existing box culvert at Morgan Wash rather than building of a new one. Building a new box culvert would have been expensive and time consuming and had a greater traffic impact on the traveling public.
  • Installation of two innovative water filtering devices (Stormcepters®) at the Oak Creek Bridge. These devices help separate particles, free oils, and suspended solids from the storm water before it is outleted into Oak Creek.
  • Incorporation of prefabricated bridge components to accelerate the construction of the Oak Creek pedestrian bridge and to lessen the impact of construction on the traveling public.

Data Collection

Safety, construction congestion, quality, and user satisfaction data were collected before, during, and after construction to demonstrate that an NBIP, innovative staged construction, and performance-based contracting with lane rental can be used to achieve the HfL performance goals in these areas.

For ADOT, safety of the workers and the traveling public was more than a performance goal; it was a requirement. ADOT’s efforts to reduce the rates for work zone crashes and worker injuries and to improve the safety of the traveling public began before construction commenced. ADOT's extensive outreach and community involvement efforts through the NBIP process created a safer and quicker construction schedule with the least amount of disturbance to the surrounding roadway, right-of-way, and community economy, which is heavily based on tourism.

Through the NBIP process, ADOT was able to establish an extensive and continuous dialogue with the community. The community’s participation in the project was solicited through interactive activities and events, educational forums, surveys, booths, newsletters, an extensive Web site, and a variety of other media efforts. The need for safety was a major community focus, which resulted in the development of many safety features for the project. During construction, ADOT project management collaborated with the contractors on extraordinary steps to assure that crashes were kept to a minimum, traffic flowed continuously, and businesses and residents were satisfied.

The many safeguards put in place to prevent crashes during construction were effective and paid huge dividends. These included procuring and training additional local law enforcement during the construction period. The number of officers in the work zone was doubled to calm and slow travelers approaching the work zone and throughout the project. Other effective measures included a monthly report by the contractor on the number of crashes and measures taken to eliminate future incidents. A review of individual incidents showed that only a few minor rear-end crashes occurred in the vicinity of the project corridor. ADOT reported, however, that none of the crashes could be attributed to the construction activities.

The performance goal ADOT established on motorist delay was monitored through a performance-based contracting method known as lane rental. To encourage the contractor to maintain two-way traffic during construction, ADOT set aside $400,000 as a lane rental fee for the duration of the project. For every minute that the contractor did not maintain two-way traffic, it was charged a rate between $20 and $100 a minute. This created a disincentive to not maintain two-way traffic. At the end of the project, the total disincentive charges were subtracted from the $400,000 and the remaining amount was given to the contractor, creating the incentive to minimize the amount of closures.

During the project planning stages, ADOT began an aggressive and comprehensive effort to communicate with affected residents and businesses along the project corridor to keep them abreast of all activities during pre- and postconstruction of SR 179. User satisfaction surveys distributed by ADOT clearly demonstrated a high level of public satisfaction with the construction approach and the final product. ADOT greatly exceeded the HfL customer satisfaction expectation by a large margin.

Lessons Learned

The reconstruction of the 3.5-mi stretch of the SR 179, including the construction of six roundabouts and the removal and replacement of the Oak Creek Bridge, was a great success. It resulted in a quality project that was completed on schedule while maintaining mobility and reducing impact on tourists, residents, and businesses. Through this project, ADOT gained insight on using innovative construction features and public outreach practices and learned many valuable lessons that can be incorporated into similar projects in the future.


From the standpoint of the final product, community satisfaction, quality, and safety of workers and motorists during construction, the ADOT project was a great success and exemplified the principles of the HfL program. ADOT learned that the implementation of a comprehensive public outreach campaign, the use of proven innovative construction techniques, maintenance of a cohesive management team from design through construction , and a commitment to continuously maintain traffic resulted in an award-winning project that the community and local stakeholders could be proud of. The as-built alternative took longer to develop through the NBIP process and had higher construction costs and more challenging phased construction, while the baseline case could have been cheaper. However, intangible benefits were realized through project development with the NBIP process with a higher quality project that fits in the context of the community and environment. A postconstruction stakeholder survey conducted by ADOT clearly demonstrated the satisfaction of the local residents and businesses with the construction approach and the final product.

Page last modified on July 12, 2013.
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