In February, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) published a technical brief comprised of case studies from five professionals, including Joshua Wolfgram, project engineer at Mead & Hunt. The publication, titled “Pandemic Quick Builds: Lessons Learned and What Comes Next” focuses on the outcomes of implementing quick-build projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joshua has two case studies included in the publication. One study discusses the development of the Vision Zero Innovation Program (VZIP) in Boulder, CO, through a one-time allocation of funds in 2020. The main goal of the VZIP was to create traffic and pedestrian safety enhancements quickly and at a low cost. The projects avoided traditional building material such as concrete and asphalt, instead using pavement markings and flexible delineator posts to encourage and self-enforce slower driving speeds. In the brief, Joshua highlights the importance of stakeholder engagement and receiving feedback from the community to determine the needs of the city’s residents. Insightful feedback from the Boulder community and evaluation metrics collected by the project team is allowing the city to continue to improve traffic safety and expand the program.
Joshua’s second case study discusses the implementation of quick-build bus priority projects in Washington, DC. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) was looking to take advantage of lower traffic volumes on city roadways and advance transit improvements to benefit essential workers. In May 2020, DDOT leveraged their long-range transportation plan, created prior to the pandemic, to identify and prioritize corridors for dedicated bus lanes. A collaborative, intra-agency effort led to the quick analysis and design of bus lanes along two corridors in Southeast DC, with the total timeframe from corridor selection to installation taking just six months (May to November 2020). Once completed, a before-after analysis showed that the projects did succeed in improving transit running times, though compliance with bus lane restrictions remains an ongoing challenge. DDOT is advancing automated enforcement in response to this issue.
Quick-Build Lessons Learned
Ultimately, Joshua concludes that other communities can learn seven key ideas from Boulder’s and Washington DC’s quick-build projects:
- Creativity is an overlooked but important part of the engineering process.
- Community engagement is essential, even in quick-build projects.
- Success in quick-build projects requires staff to be adaptable.
- An evaluation and decision-making process is essential.
- Tight inter- and intra-agency coordination enables quick and successful quick-build projects.
- Having on-call contract mechanisms in place for design and construction is essential for quick-build projects.
- Streamlining the overall project delivery process is key to a smooth and fast implementation of quick-build projects.
Read more in the February 2023 ITE Technical Brief, “Pandemic Quick Builds: Lessons Learned and What Comes Next” »