The National Academies

SHRP 2 R16(B) [Completed]

Tools for Communicating Railroad-DOT Mitigation Strategies

  Project Data
Funds: $599,940
Research Agency: StarIsis Corporation
Principal Investigator: Shobna Varma
Effective Date: 4/24/2012
Completion Date: 6/30/2014

SHRP 2 Background
To address the challenges of moving people and goods efficiently and safely on the nation’s highways, Congress has created the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2). SHRP 2 is a targeted, short-term research program carried out through competitively awarded contracts to qualified researchers in the academic, private, and public sectors. SHRP 2 addresses four strategic focus areas: the role of human behavior in highway safety (Safety); rapid highway renewal (Renewal); congestion reduction through improved travel time reliability (Reliability); and transportation planning that better integrates community, economic, and environmental considerations into new highway capacity (Capacity). Under current legislative provisions, SHRP 2 has expanded its efforts to include activities such as pilot tests and field demonstrations that help to prepare research results for implementation. More information about the program is available on the website: www.TRB.org/SHRP2.
Renewal Focus Area
The U.S. highway system is aging and must be rebuilt while we are driving on it and living next to it. Research in the SHRP 2 Renewal focus area therefore addresses the need to develop a consistent, systematic approach to completing highway projects quickly, with minimal disruption to the community, and producing facilities that are long-lasting. Identifying new technologies for locating underground utilities; developing procedures to speed the evaluation of designs and the inspection of construction; and applying new methods and materials for preserving, rehabilitating, and reconstructing roadways and bridges are among the goals for this focus area. Alternative strategies for contracting, financing, and managing projects and mitigating institutional barriers also are part of the emphasis on rapid renewal. The renewal scope applies to all classes of roads.
Project Background
The objective of the completed SHRP 2 Project R16 was to identify and develop strategies and institutional arrangements that could produce cooperative relationships between railroads and public agencies and to develop master agreements. These master agreements and best practices for coordinating on public highway projects were created as a tool-box that both parties could use through the project delivery cycle. With the conclusion of the project, there is an immediate need to communicate and pilot-test the findings so as to facilitate their implementation.
The tool-box of streamlined processes and master agreements was created as a text document available both in hard-copy and web PDF formats at https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/shrp2/SHRP2_S2-R16-RR-1.pdf. The master agreements (Appendix C of the report) are also available in Microsoft Word format. The successful implementation of the R16 findings will increase, however, if this product is introduced into a searchable web-based virtual library along with other related materials. 
Likewise, training modules for state/local/federal agency practitioners, railroad personnel, and other external stakeholders are needed to facilitate a smooth transition into implementation of the tool-box.
·         Creation, maintenance, and delivery of a web-based virtual library of various model agreements, contracts, standard guidelines, and provisions.
·         Development of training modules and other related materials on streamlined permitting procedures and model agreements. Training should be targeted to state/local/federal agencies and railroads.
Please note that the Phases below can be conducted in parallel. Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. SHRP 2 is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meet the research objectives.
Phase I – Web-based virtual library
Task 1: Based on work completed under Project R16, develop a fully functional web-based virtual library to serve as support for identifying effective institutional processes and master agreements between transportation agencies and railroads (Class I and II). 
Prepare a survey of what documents need to be included in the web-based virtual repository to make accessible the state-of-the-art practices and master agreements for railroad and DOT coordination for renewal projects and implement the result of the survey. Examples include the following:
  • Resource documents such as the R16 final report, railroad agreement manuals from the various states, standard guidelines, clearances, sample partnering agreements, materials from related National Highway Institute (NHI) courses, other essential documents and treatises, cost calculations for railroad contributions (e.g., those developed at the Texas Department of Transportation), and links to related sites such as the Project Management Institute which promotes best practices in project delivery
  • Background information on DOT/Railroad coordination
  • Training materials developed under Phase II of this project 
  • Links to federal regulations related to DOT/Railroad interactions
The library should also include access to related on-going dialogue between practitioners.  The virtual library should be open access absent stakeholder concerns regarding publication of proprietary information or other concerns.
The virtual library developed under this task needs to be functionally tested by at least two technical experts in the field of highway/railroad planning, design and construction, and at least one expert in digital library design. Full documentation shall be provided with the software developed, including: application design documentation and data master/structure.
The data master and web application must use open-source software.
The use of DSpace platform is recommended for the digital repository. If, however, the contractor prefers the use of a different platform, the contractor must provide detailed information of the proposed platform and how its use would provide an enhancement over DSpace at the beginning of the project, and ideally in the response to the RFP.
Task 2: Develop and document a process to refresh and update the materials in the virtual library in ways such as:
    • Updating model agreements as needed
    • flagging out-dated materials
    • updating internet addresses to links
    • posting of new training materials that may arise in Phase II of this project.
Submit the plan to SHRP 2 for evaluation and approval. Upon approval from SHRP 2, implement the updating plan.
The web-tool needs to maintain a high level of consistency and performance on master agreements, standard agreements (task orders), and similar documents that may be used in multiple transportation agencies.
Task 3: Prepare and submit an interim report documenting the work performed in Tasks 1 and 2. The report must also include an estimate of the resources (staff and budget) needed on an annual basis to maintain this virtual library.
Task 4: The virtual library will be updated and maintained under the direction of the contractor’s organization until no later January 2015. The contractor shall support the transfer of the web-based library and the necessary components, including the database and tools for implementation at the selected agency. Once the implementing agent is announced and the transfer date for the virtual library specified, the contractor shall submit a report and updated web-tool documentation at least 120 days prior to the specified transfer date.
The contractor must provide benchmarks on the capabilities of the tools to test and evaluate the application at the implementation agency. It is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure that the tools work correctly against the benchmarks when it is transferred to the implementing agency. The benchmarks shall include, at a minimum, outcomes included in Task 1 and Task 2.
Phase II – Development of training materials
Task 5: Prepare training materials for the institutional processes and model agreements developed under SHRP 2 project R16.
The training materials must be developed in various modules. Examples of the envisioned modules include:
-          Main components of the master agreements (e.g., property rights, agency responsibility, railroad responsibility)
-          Elements of supplemental agreements or task orders
-          Differences in “government” and corporate culture for the various stakeholders (railroads, state agencies, utility commissions) and institutional processes that facilitate coordination among the various agencies
-          Submittal and approval processes for plans
-          Procedures for contracting/subcontracting projects that require railroad and state agency coordination
-          Streamlined permitting processes
-          Utility coordination in projects that require railroad and transportation agency coordination
-          Property acquisition
These modules must be developed as web-based training.
Task 6: Pilot the training modules with at least 10 stakeholders from the railroads and state/local transportation agencies. Document the results of the pilot and submit the document to SHRP 2. Update the modules according to the findings from the pilots. Upon revision, submit the modules to SHRP 2 for review and approval. Once approval from SHRP 2 is received upload the modules to the virtual library developed under Phase I of this project for open access.
Task 7: Prepare and submit a final report detailing the work in Tasks 1 through 6.
·         Task 1 through 4: Web-based virtual library
·         Task 2: Plan to update the materials in the virtual library
·         Task 3: Interim report
·         Task 4: Update report including all changes made to the virtual library
·         Task 5:Training material modules
·         Task 6: Report documenting pilot results
·         Task 7: Final report

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