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Oregon Demonstration Project: Alternate Project Delivery And Accelerated Bridge Construction On OR 38, Drain To Elkton
Appendix A: HfL/Oregon DOT User Satisfaction Survey
HIGHWAY 38: ELK CREEK TO HARDSCRABBLE CREEK BRIDGES Report of Results December 2008
Prepared by: Lois D. Cohen Associates, LLC For the Oregon Department of Transportation
In January 2007, the Oregon Department of Transportation began a project to replace five bridges along a 14-mile stretch of Highway 38 between Elkton and Drain. The bridges, built between 1929 and 1932, required replacement to ensure safe travel on this important route between the coast and the Interstate 5 corridor. To enhance traffic safety along this corridor, ODOT also added a left-turn lane from westbound Highway 38 to Highway 138 as a part of this project.
To minimize travel impacts, ODOT design-build contractor Slayden Construction used an innovative "rapid replacement" technique to build the two new bridges on the east and west sides of the Elk Creek tunnel. The successful use of this technique saved motorists six months of daily travel delays, reduced construction costs, minimized the cost of delayed freight, and limited negative impacts on several small businesses. Community input guided ODOT's decision to use the rapid replacement, or accelerated bridge construction, technique. Feedback from community residents also influenced the timing of the closures.
Narrow and winding Highway 38 serves as a lifeline route for the communities of Drain and Elkton, and to a lesser extent Reedsport. Replacing five bridges here was a complex undertaking. It required a great deal of communication with city leaders, area businesses, the freight industry, and the local communities. ODOT's team of outreach specialists used both traditional and nontraditional methods to connect with these stakeholders.
To reach out to the affected communities, ODOT's team used news releases, newsletters, weekly construction updates, a project Web site , one-on-one and small group meetings with elected officials and business and civic leaders, and public meetings. The project team regularly briefed local service clubs and professional engineering organizations. Open house meetings were held in Drain and Reedsport, and briefings were provided to the Reedsport City Council and officials in Elkton and Drain. The team also presented project information to the Reedsport/Winchester Bay Chamber of Commerce. In anticipation of detours, the team held several meetings with emergency service providers.
The project team also conducted school-based outreach programs in Drain, Elkton, and Reedsport. As a result of leading three interactive programs with students in these communities, the project team was able to connect with parents who might not otherwise have accessed project information. As part of this outreach, Elkton High School students were invited to participate in a contest to submit designs for the pylons at the four corners of the Elkton Bridge. After the winners were selected and the pylons completed, ODOT hosted a community celebration in Elkton, honoring the participating students and the adults in the community who guided their efforts. A time capsule built and filled by local students was embedded in the base of one of the pylons.
A "Rapid Replacement Primer" educational guide was also developed and distributed within the community so that residents would have the opportunity to learn about the fascinating and innovative technique employed by ODOT to replace two of the five project bridges. Thus, ODOT used a variety of unique tactics and programs that engaged the affected communities.
Lois D. Cohen Associates, or LDC, was contracted to design and distribute a community survey to project stakeholders most affected by the bridge construction. This survey included three questions.
Seeking critical public input for ODOT to consider when planning future project outreach and implementation activities, the first two survey questions sought to measure levels of satisfaction regarding the new bridges and roadway alignments, and the approach used to minimize traffic disruptions. These two questions used the Likert scale, offering five selections ranging from very satisfied to very dissatisfied.
The survey also included one open-ended question. This question requested feedback regarding the effectiveness of outreach activities and procedures used to gather community feedback and provide project information.
The survey was designed in a postcard format. It included the three survey questions, a map of the project area, and a brief overview of the project activities and duration. LDC provided a return mail address and postage on the reverse of the survey postcard.
People were also given the opportunity to respond to the survey online using ODOT's project Web site.
Survey Distribution and Collection
LDC distributed surveys to area stakeholders by mail and e-mail on Nov. 17, 2008. In total, 2,000 paper surveys were distributed.
LDC worked with a print-to-post vendor to distribute the survey by mail to residents and businesses affected by the bridge project. LDC used the bridge project stakeholder list, which includes contact information for key elected officials and organizations throughout the project corridor from Reedsport to Drain, and postal customers in Drain and Scottsburg. Additionally, the Elkton School District distributed 600 surveys with its regular mailing to all households in the district, whether or not they had students enrolled in the school system.
As of Dec. 13, 2008, LDC collected a total of 376 surveys, reflecting an 18.8 percent rate of return, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. LDC received 356 surveys by mail and 20 responses using the online survey.
A total of 376 respondents provided feedback to this question.
The following chart illustrates the 376 respondents' level of satisfaction with the new bridges between Elkton and Drain.
Figure A-1. User satisfaction with the final product.
A total of 376 respondents provided feedback to the second inquiry.
The following chart illustrates the 376 respondents' stated level of satisfaction with ODOT's approach to construction.
Figure A-2. Level of satisfaction with the approach.
What improvements or changes would you recommend regarding activities and procedures used to gather community comments and provide project information?
Of the 376 surveys collected, 47 percent (178) of the respondents commented on this open-ended question.
This feedback provides insight into the public's perception of the success of the Highway 38 bridge project. Public responses can be categorized as follows (totals greater than 100 percent due to multiple responses):
1. Accolades: 80 percent (142 comments out of 178 responses)
The Accolades category encompasses congratulatory or otherwise complimentary statements made by those who responded to question 3.
Two examples from each category are listed below along with their corresponding reference number:
2. Recommended Changes: 25 percent (44 comments out of 178 responses)
The Recommended Changes category encompasses feedback that suggests areas for improvement in project delivery.
Two examples from this category are listed below:
3. Other Road Improvements Needed: 13 percent (23 comments out of 178 responses)
This category encompasses all feedback that suggests additional roadway improvements.
Two examples from this category are listed below:
4. Other: 8 percent (15 comments out of 178 responses)
The Other category encompasses all feedback not captured in categories 1 through 3. These comments varied greatly.
Two examples from this category are listed below:
Figure A-3 illustrates the distribution of comments in the above-mentioned four categories, Accolades, Recommended Changes, Other Road Improvements Needed, and Other.
Figure A-3. Distribution of comments in all four categories.
In each of the following categories—Accolades, Recommended Changes, and Other Road Improvements Needed—specific themes emerged. The following section delves deeper into this critical public feedback.
Eighty percent of the 178 survey participants who responded to Question 3 provided positive feedback, highlighting five areas of particular success, as shown in Table A-1.
Of the 142 comments captured in the Accolades category, more than 58 percent gave positive feedback about the overall success of the Highway 38 bridge project. Twenty percent of the comments gave positive feedback regarding the public outreach tactics and information provided throughout the duration of the project (Outreach Tactics). Thirteen percent of comments noted the professionalism of workers (Workers' Professionalism); respondents were most emphatic about the good work of Slayden Construction Group's flaggers.
Respondents commented on the success of both the design of the project and its implementation. Several comments cited improvements to the roadway, such as rumble strips and the upgrades to the junction of Highway 38 and Hardscrabble Creek Road (Project Design). Additionally, 5 percent of comments complimented the minimal impact on traffic by construction work (Traffic Management).
Figure A-4 illustrates the distribution of comments within the Accolades category.
Figure A-4. Distribution of comments in Accolades category.
The Recommended Changes category encompasses 25 percent of public feedback to Question 3. Respondents' feedback highlights the five subcategories listed in Table A-2.
Forty-four comments in the Recommended Changes category addressed potential avenues for improving project delivery. Forty-one percent of these comments requested additional measures for public outreach, such as more mailers and surveys (Outreach Tactics). Eight comments were about the “aggressive” rumble strips present in the project area, the sharp turns on the highway, and the physical appearance of the bridge in relation to the creek below (Project Design).
Seven comments suggested improvements to the overall project, such as use of more local subcontractors, quicker removal of traffic control devices and staggering the work to limit delay (General Project). Six comments suggested traffic management improvements, such as increasing the visibility of flaggers and signs and using electronic traffic management measures such as traffic signals (Traffic Management).
Figure A-5 illustrates the distribution of comments within the Recommended Changes category.
Figure A-5. Distribution of comments in Recommended Changes category.
Other Road Improvements Needed
The Other Road Improvements Needed category encompasses 23 comments submitted in response to Question 3. Public feedback highlights the desire of respondents to provide input about the condition of roads and bridges in their community. This feedback applies to the following two categories shown in Table A-3.
Forty-eight percent of the comments in the Other Road Improvements Needed category requested that the Scottsburg Bridge be repaired or replaced (Scottsburg Bridge). The remaining fifty-two percent of responses varied greatly (Other Nearby Locations).
Many offered suggestions on how to increase safety, such as requesting a stop sign at Highway 38 and Cedar Street in Drain, requesting a walking path along old Highway 99 north in Drain and increasing the number of passing lanes between Elkton and Drain.
Figure A-6 illustrates the distribution of comments in this subcategory.
Figure A-6. Comments related to other needed road improvements.
Figure A-7 demonstrates the distribution of responses to Question 3 among the four categories of Accolades, Recommended Changes, Other Road Improvements Needed, and Other.
Figure A-7. Distribution of responses to question 3 for all categories.
Beginning in 2007, ODOT's Highway 38 bridge project used unique outreach tactics to rally community interest, garner public support, and solicit critical public feedback. Stakeholder input helped influence the selection of the rapid replacement technique for the two bridges on either side of the Elk Creek Tunnel and also influenced the time of road closures.
Lois D. Cohen Associates used a survey to solicit stakeholder feedback regarding the success of ODOT's Highway 38 bridge project. LDC sent out approximately 2,000 surveys via mail and e-mail. As of Dec. 13, 2008, LDC collected 376 completed surveys, representing an 18.8 percent rate of return.
Results of the survey indicate that the public viewed the Highway 38 bridge project to be a success.
When asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the new bridges compared with the previous bridges and roadway alignments, more than 95 percent of respondents said that they consider the new bridges to be as good as or better than the previous infrastructure.
The following comments reflect the general community consensus:
More than 96 percent of respondents said they were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with the construction approach.
When given the opportunity to suggest preferred methods of public outreach, about 80 percent of those who commented complimented ODOT and the project team. Twenty-five percent offered insight on how ODOT can improve future project implementation. Thirteen percent asked ODOT to make more improvements in their community.
"This was a great project. We traveled this route several times, and took pictures each time. The construction crew did a quick and clean job. Many highway projects seem to take forever with a couple fellows working on it. This crew built some amazing bridges in a very short time. Thanks!!!!"
– Response 134
"This has been a wonderful experience for our community. Community and school involvement has been above and beyond. I have said the company doing the work has been so thoughtful, clean and positive. What a professional group of people. Bridge replacement video was awesome! Thinking of our walkers...you rock! Thank you!"
– Response 125
"You did fine. Not only did you gather opinions, you acted on the consensus rather than finding a reason not to. You got customer buy-in. That's the way it's supposed to work. Bravo."
– Response 96