The Project Initiation and Innovation Team, otherwise known as the PIIT, specializes in the project definition process for bridge and culvert rehabilitation and replacement projects. The PIIT was established in 2012 to ensure a programmatic, consistent and efficient approach to determining the best alternative to rehabilitating or replacing deteriorated bridges and culverts located along the interstate, state and local roadway networks throughout the State of Vermont. The PIIT is part of a larger effort to expedite the delivery of projects through the Structures Section.
The project initiation process examines various factors and alternatives to develop the “Preferred Alternative” otherwise known as the work to be performed and how this work will be accomplished. Variables include:
- The purpose and need
- Existing and projected traffic volumes
- Design criteria including conformance with Vermont State Standards
- Hydraulics requirements
- Site constraints including environmental and cultural resources, utilities, and Right-of-Way
- Subsurface conditions
- Community and regional considerations
- Maintenance of traffic options including short term road closures and other innovative methods to reduce traffic impacts, phased construction, and temporary bridges
- Contracting methods such as design-bid-build (DBB), design-build (DB) and contractor manager/general contractor (CM/GC)
Our final product is a written report called a “Scoping Report” that provides an overview of the considerations described above, an “Alternatives Matrix” with a side by side comparison of all options considered including cost, anticipated delivery schedule and associated impacts and a recommended preferred alternative. Once the preferred alternative has received support from management within VTrans and the affected communities, the project is transferred into the design phase along with a credible schedule and spending profile for the design and construction phases of project development. Other deliverables include a Risk Register, Traffic Management Plan and Community Involvement Plan.
As part of the project definition process, project managers and scoping engineers are seeking earlier and meaningful involvement from the regional planning commissions, towns and stakeholders to gather as much information as possible about site conditions and community concerns to create a culture of collaboration, ensure productive working relationships and minimize impacts due to short term road closures such as avoiding road closures during the school season, holidays and important town events. We strive to exceed our customers’ expectations throughout the project delivery process by communicating early and often through community questionnaires, public meetings and project factsheets.
At the onset of a project, the affected town and RPC is asked to complete a “Community Questionnaire” with questions pertaining to the community, local schools, walking and biking, design considerations and land use. This information is considered during the alternatives analysis process. Towards the end of the project definition phase, project managers and scoping engineers meet with public officials, emergency services and residents to provide an overview of the selected alternative, associated project impacts, discuss the project schedule and address any comments or concerns. An electronic audience response system is used to poll meeting attendees providing everyone with the opportunity to weigh in on the selected alternative and help refine the project scope.