Collaborative Leadership: Success Stories in Transportation Mega
A "Lessons Learned" Approach to Collaborative Leadership in
Mega Project Management
Successful Collaborative Leadership Example:
2002 Olympic Winter Games Infrastructure
If you want your city to become a focal point for the world, then
submit your nomination to host the Olympic Games. Although the 2002
Olympic Winter Games would only last for seventeen days, when the Olympic
Committee announced in June 1995 that Salt Lake City, Utah won the selection
to host the Winter Games, it started a chain of collaborative events
the world had never seen before.
The transportation professionals associated with the planning for
the Utah infrastructure quickly came together to develop partnerships
between federal, state, and local stakeholders to ensure the success
of the Winter Games. The tremendous amount of international media coverage
associated with the Olympics caused great concern for the transportation
professionals. Just like the Olympic athletes, the world would judge
the performance of the transportation professionals. The media could
report on the smallest of problems associated with traveling to and
from the multiple sites surrounding Salt Lake City and create a black
eye for the transportation professionals. The world would remember their
traveling experiences and forever associate that aspect with their overall
experience at the Olympic Games.
Therefore, efficiency and reliability of transportation would be
among the most important benchmarks in determining the success of the
Winter Games. The transportation practitioners were charged with carefully
developing and implementing a transportation plan to ensure efficient
operations during this acutely sensitive time. The Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA), by supporting their partners in the preparation and operation
of the transportation network during the Winter Games, had an active
role in this dynamic initiative. (The Federal Highway, 2002)
Building the infrastructure for the 2002 Olympics Games involved
a large number of organizations and people from around the globe. People
from nearly every country attend the Games and go home with stories
to tell regarding their experiences. The large list of stakeholders
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
- Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST)
- Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)
- Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC)
- Utah Transit Authority (UTA)
- U.S. Forest Service
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Residents of:
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Park City, Utah
- Provo, Utah
- Ogden, Utah
- Salt Lake County
- Utah County
- Olympic participants
- Olympic spectators
- Media personnel from around the globe
The Olympics bring thousands of additional people to a location and
can create havoc if the infrastructure and transportation system are
not addressed accurately. The committee working on the design for Olympics
in Salt Lake City had the following requirements to design, build, or
- Eight highway improvement projects.
- Improve access to several of the Olympic venues.
- Expand and make accessible Utah's mass transit system.
- Build "park-and-ride" lots or "park-and-walk"
lots near venue sites.
- Clear and build a 33.6-hectare (83-acre) temporary, paved parking
lot and then restore all of the temporary lots to their original
state by removing the recycled asphalt base, re-contouring, spreading
topsoil, and re-vegetating the areas.
- Create a 20 percent reduction in non-Olympic traffic.
- Improve local airports due to the increase in travelers.
- Developed partnerships developed early between the Federal,
State, and local agencies.
- Determined the roles and responsibilities for the agencies early
in the timeline.
- The creation and development of an overall Olympic transportation
plan that included representatives from all the agencies involved.
- Designed and utilized communication systems to disseminate up-to-the-minute
advisory conditions to the public.
- Flexibility in federal funding generated many issues and interagency
cooperation allowed timely processing of the Olympic projects.
- Identified and implemented security initiatives early in the
- The disappointment felt by local governments when their unrealistic
expectations of financial gain were not what they expected.
- The significant increase in security requirements after the
events of September 11, 2001 created longer waits than originally
- Travel plans were affected due to the tighter security at airports
around the world.
- Many of Utah's infrastructure improvement projects already in
place were accelerated after the selection of Salt Lake City as
the host of the Olympic Games.
- The funding personnel had the opportunity to re-evaluate the
funding methods due to the accelerated projects.
- After conducting an opinion survey in 1996, the design-build
method was utilized as the public preferred a timelier construction
- "Utah needed to shorten the overall project duration
and also hoped to promote innovation and improved performance,"
says Michael Morrow, field operations engineer at FHWA. "Design-build
appeared to be the only contracting tool to get the job done."
- Ability to collaborate with staff from the Atlanta and Nagano
Olympics to gain insight into their transportation challenges.
The need for clear, accurate,
and distinctive signing was one of the lessons learned from
previous Olympics. (The Federal Highway, 2002)
- The cyber threat associated with the internet-based reporting
system (Activation Information Management System (AIMS)).
- Employee burnout as preparing for the Games required extensive
- Environmental concerns with re-vegetating after the removal
of the temporary parking lots.
- With billions of dollars involved, fraud may occur.
- "Fraud schemes are sophisticated operations, and can
operate undetected." (Peters, 2004)
- The events of September 11, 2001 redefined Olympic security
and the entire security plan was re-evaluated and refocused.
Increased security due to the aftereffects
of September 11 had an enormous impact on transportation, including
more closed roads, increased security credentialing for those involved
in the Olympics, and longer waits for people entering secure areas,
including venue sites. (The Federal Highway, 2002)
Funding a billion dollar mega project takes collaboration from many
organizations. The difficulty in identifying and obtaining the large
sums of capital required to complete the project is a tremendous task.
- Table 2 lists federally participating highway projects that were
completed specifically for the Olympic Games. These projects were
developed after the Olympics were announced and were intended to
directly support Olympic-related traffic. The federal share on these
projects was derived mostly from discretionary funds or by Congressional
Table 2 - Olympic Projects (in thousands of dollars)
|Snowbasin/Trappers Loop Road
|Utah Winter Sports Park Road
|Intelligent Transportation System
| *Includes formula and discretionary
funds. As of March 2002. (The Federal Highway,
- Table 3 contains a list of major highway projects that were
identified early in the planning process as necessary for hosting
the Olympics, but which were also previously (prior to receiving
the award of the 2002 Olympics) identified in the state's planning
and programming process as needed improvements. These projects would
have been built regardless of whether Utah had received the Olympic
Games. However, in most cases, the projects on this list were accelerated
to ensure completion before the Olympic Games.
Table 3 - Accelerated Projects (in thousands of dollars)
|Silver Creek Junction
|U.S. 89 Interchange
|I-15 ITS & ATMS
|I-215/3500 S. Interchange
| *Includes formula and discretionary
funds. As of March 2002. (The Federal Highway,
Completing a mega project is extremely difficult in that all parties
involved have their own agendas. The parties involved must work together
to send a common vision to achieve success. Marketing your organization's
agenda openly and honestly provides the best opportunity for overall
success and gaining the public trust.
- The Olympic Transportation Plan was developed by all of the
agencies and was a critical element in disseminating advisories
to the public.
- UDOT's "Know Before You Go" campaign included a website,
radio updates, media alerts, and several other outreach mechanisms
to provide transportation updates to the public during the Games.
- The AIMS tool provided the public with up to the minute information
on accidents and emergencies affecting routes to and from the events.
- An Olympic transportation guide with maps to the events was
distributed at local retail stores and with the Olympic ticket packages,
which also helped local residents know which areas to avoid.
- A U.S. DOT Information Center served as an information/command
center for stakeholders during the Games and was designed to facilitate
monitoring of Olympic operations and efficient dissemination of
- Olympic pins were designed and distributed for walkers and shuttle
riders for walking or riding to various events to reduce traffic.
- UDOT launched its toll-free 5-1-1-traveler information hotline
to hear the latest traffic updates, current road conditions, public
transportation information, and weather forecast.
- CommuterLinkSM, a new state-of-the-art nerve center at the Traffic
Operations Center (TOC) was built as the muscle and brain behind
Utah's transportation management program. Information from approximately
200 closed-circuit TV cameras, congestion detectors, 55 variable
message signs, 540 traffic signal controls, ramp meters, and 21
weather sensors is processed through the TOC. (Njord, 2002)
The information room at the TOC
was one of the key transportation centers during the Winter Games.
(The Federal Highway, 2002)
Key Reasons for Success
The success of the 2002 Olympic Games resulted from successful collaboration
on many fronts. Working together on a clear, common goal ensured success
in designing and building the infrastructure and transportation systems.
- The partnerships created a sense of teamwork and cooperation
that resulted in a highly successful plan of operation that
moved Olympic participants, spectators, media, and area residents
efficiently and effectively.
- The One DOT approach was an effective strategy because it
facilitated exceptional cooperation between the activities of
state and local partners who had not traditionally worked together.
- Roles and responsibilities
- A formal agreement between partners identifying roles and
responsibilities should be developed as a working document and
adjusted as the process progresses.
- Visiting the previous Olympic sites in Atlanta and Nagano
to review their lessons learned proved invaluable in identifying
potential problems during the planning phase and not after construction.
- The early identification of key Olympic projects and the
subsequent funding requirements is extremely important.
- Funding for Olympic and non-Olympic facilities should remain
separate, but separate funding sources for Olympic and non-Olympic
critical facilities should be identified.
- Flexibility in funding for transportation projects can accelerate
the receipt of appropriate funds to complete the key projects.
Evaluate innovative contracting and financing scenarios in the
early planning phase.
- Establish a joint single audit process to allow for a more
- CommuterLinkSM collaboration has been the key to making
technology integration in Utah so successful. This technologically
advanced site experienced dramatic success as site hits, which
averaged 1,500,000 per month before the official launch, spiked
to over 23,000,000 hits per month in December 2001. As the official
source of transportation information during the Salt Lake 2002
Olympic Winter Games, during which it experienced more than
74 million hits, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America
honored the CommuterLinkSM website with a "Best of ITS
2002" award. (Knopp, 2002)
- The "Know Before You Go" campaign provided outreach
for key transportation updates to the public during the Games
and helped instill the public trust.
"OLYMPIC TRAFFIC JAM, ON THE WAY
TO SOLDIER HOLLOW, My heartfelt thanks to the "transportation
experts." (Trent Nelson/ The Salt Lake Tribune)" - This
photograph and caption from the February 19 issue (courtesy of the
Salt Lake Tribune) was one of many positive media messages about
transportation during the Games. (The Federal Highway, 2002)
The announcement in June 1995 to hold the 2002 Winter Games in Salt
Lake City, Utah started a tremendous chain of events that involved countless
people from around the world. How the designers and developers of the
infrastructure and the transportation system completed their tasks would
be judged by the entire world, as the media would be on hand during
the Games to relay any negative press.
One of the key concepts of the plan for successful Olympic transportation
was the need for a 20 percent reduction in non-Olympic traffic. Due
to an aggressive outreach campaign, the 20 percent reduction was achieved
and exceeded. (The Federal Highway, 2002) In the aftermath of the completed
project, Morrow says, "There's a sense of 'can do' within Utah
now." Morrow credited a solid public information effort, a spirit
of partnering, visible progress, and delivery on promises with helping
achieve the successful public approval ratings. In fact, transportation
for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games was deemed a remarkable success, and
many observers credited Utah with providing the best transportation
of any Olympic games. (The Federal Highway, 2002)