Speech #45 – Training Public Officials How to Procure ITS
ATM-Gold #10: The Professional Speaker manual – “The Professional Seminar project”
Joe Gillis, President of the Mid-Tennessee Valley Planning
I enjoyed speaking with some of you during the meet ‘n greet time and I enjoyed looking over the comment cards you submitted that let me know what you wanted to learn this morning.
Quote: “Public Officials are not elected on operations and management but rather on capital projects,” This was said at an ITS Workshop at a 2002 meeting of the Transportation Research Board.
Representative Ellen Tauscher, from
As planners, your job is partially to help those public officials you work for provide service to their constituents. You already have the skills to plan projects. This seminar will help you learn the most cost-effective way to plan your ITS project and procure the needed funds.
The first thing that you need to do is come up with a wish list of what deliverables you would like to have in an ITS system. Brainstorm with leaders in your community to determine what your current problems are that need to be solved – such as congestion, delays, air pollution, fuel expense, security and emergency response. Think through what types of solutions might help you – traffic signal management, variable message signs, freeway metering, HOV lanes, traffic cameras, etc…
At this point, you need to see what funds might be available to your disposal. This will be used to plan your budget and then determine approximately how many of the items in your wish list are feasible. I encourage you to look for various sources of fund. The Federal Government grants monies for ITS on an annual basis through a funding program called TEA-21, but I don’t recommend that you rely on just that one source. One other source of federal funds is CMAQ which stands for Congestion Mitigation / Air Quality) If you have a plan that can be shown to reduce air pollution through reducing traffic congestion, you may qualify for CMAQ funds.
This leads me into an important subject. Document your needs. The more information you have at the beginning of the process, the better off you are. Document your air quality, your average daily traffic. Average highway speeds, anything that will show why you are considering an Intelligent Transportation solution.
Let’s go back to funding issues. I encourage you to be creative in your
funding. I want to tell you about what
They applied for a $2.3 million CMAQ grant and made plans to install traffic signal synchronization, freeway management and plans for more applications in the future. In their initial installation they employed the use of solar-power traffic monitoring units and they relied heavily on commercially-available components, even using local vendor where possible. They also used Government GSA procurement rules to keep material prices low. Colorado Spring also entered into a public-private venture with companies in the downtown area to share the cost for share-use fiber optic cabling. Freeway message signs were mounted on pre-existing structures wherever possible. They also used in-house staff for small installation tasks wherever possible.
What were the results? One year after implementation, average travel times were down by 20% and carbon dioxide was reduced by 1 million kilograms of particulate.
Another way to finance your projects is to bring multiple municipalities together to share in the cost of ITS and therefore share the benefits. The City of Portland, Oregon did this as they were in an alliance with Oregon DOT and also the Tri-County Metro Transportation District, to implement ITS in a community that saw traffic double from 1980 to 2000. Together they implemented freeway management, traffic signal control management, traffic management, incident management and established a regional travel information system.
One creative thing that was done was a joint venture with the local media to pay for the installation of traffic cameras – cameras the media could increase their capacity for getting information to the general public. Other things implemented were a smart bus system with traffic signal priority and joint incident response for police, fire and medical.
Besides funding, you also need to choose the best
contracting situation for your project.
Traditional construction projects are done in a sequence called Design-Bid-Build. The design phase is done by a qualified
engineering firm. This firm will prepare
the documents that will be used to solicit competitive bids from construction
contractors. Although this type of
contracting will work to build a
One recommended approach is to do a Design-Build. With this contract type, one entity does both the design and the build phases of the project. The city or agency will usually complete around 30% of the design work in-house and issue a request for Proposal (RFP). Bidders will complete the design and the lowest responsive bidder gets a single contract for the business. This works well for complex ITS projects. These contracts usually include performance-based specifications or even a warranty. The risk areas are having not well-enough defined specifications, having to add more bonding and liability insurance and it is generally more risky for the contractor that design-bid–build.
A third approach you might consider is to employ a System
Manager. Consultants will accept payment
based on a cost plus fee basis. It will
be their job to pay for and obtain the necessary Engineering Design Documents
from a qualified Engineering firm and they will then let out various pieces of
the business to contractors by competitive bid. System managers should have ITS experience
and they should only select engineering design firms with ITS experience. Often, the System Manager works for the
Engineering Design company. This type of
approach acknowledges that ITS projects are complex and the technology is evolving. This arrangement allows such areas as
software development and system integration to be performed with experienced
engineers and takes advantage of competitive bid scenarios to get the best
price for things such as the construction of the
I want to conclude by talking about examples of the latter
two examples I gave you. The first is a
Design-Build contract led by the State of
My second example is a little closer to home, the Atlanta
Georgia NaviGAtor system.
In Conclusion, I hope you understand that ITS systems are complex and you need to consider alternate strategies in an effort to reduce costs. Select a contract method that best fits you – use a System Manager if you can afford it or else warranty the completed system. Most of all, remember the reason that you need an ITS system and make sure the final product will help you reach your goals.