1. Determine the Costs and Impacts of Meeting Design Criteria
The design process should begin with the presumption that the selected geometric design elements will meet or exceed the design criteria. Before considering a design exception, the following questions should be asked and evaluated:
What would it take to fully meet design criteria? What would the implications be to fully meet design criteria?
Issues to consider when making this evaluation include:
- How well does a design that meets full criteria fit in with its surroundings?
- What are the impacts to the natural environment?
- What are the social impacts–impacts to neighborhoods, communities, historic and cultural resources?
- What are the construction and right-of-way costs and impacts of fully meeting design criteria?
- What is the expected safety and operational performance of the design that meets full criteria?
Some costs and impacts, such as construction and right-of-way, are relatively easy to quantify. Impacts to communities or the natural environment may be more difficult to quantify but are still very important. These impacts should at least be identified and an understanding of their level of magnitude should be developed. A full understanding of impacts can best be obtained through stakeholder involvement that is early, ongoing, and an integral part of the project development process. Following the principles of context-sensitive solutions is important. See the following Web sites for more information: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/csd/index.cfm and http://www.contextsensitivesolutions.org/.
In summary, the first step should be investigating what it takes to fully meet design criteria and developing a clear understanding of the costs and impacts.