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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Design Criteria, Security, Safety Certification

Title: Design Criteria, Security, Safety Certification

Phase(s): Pre-Preliminary Engineering, Preliminary Engineering, Final Design

Category: Scope

Date:  September 16, 2008

1. Background

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) South Corridor Light Rail Project (SCLRP) is located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and links Uptown Charlotte’s Central Business District to the I-485 Station.  The light rail line operates within the existing Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSRR) Right of Way (ROW) for approximately 9.6 miles. 

During review and evaluation of the project Security, Safety Certification (SSC) process in November 2006, several issues were identified that warranted future evaluation and detail review of CATS SSC process.  The major issues included the following:

  • Lack of final and approved design criteria, caused by termination of project design team (Engineer of Record)
  •  Insufficiently detailed execution plan for testing and certification
  • Detail requirements from State and local agencies
  • Interface with Trolley vehicle operations and requirements

Contract documents were developed with the intent of design criteria included even without a final design criteria fully developed and finalized.

The PMOC was instrumental in assessing, guiding, and recommending corrective actions to CATS Safety and Security department.  The PMOC identified a key element issue for which CATS did not have a basis for design available for the SCLRP.  Without a basis for design, traditional comparisons between original design and finished product can only be partially accomplished.

PMOC SSC team worked closely with CATS to develop a method of certifying the light rail project as it relates to safety and security certifications.  PMOC worked closely with CATS, NCDOT, and the FTA Office of Safety and Security to ensure that an alternative method of ensuring the bases for design criteria was identified, these steps implemented, and the system was certified, meeting FTA requirements for safe and secure operations.  CATS integrated NFPA-130 and ADA requirements for transportation facilities into its Certifiable Items Lists (CILs). This, with the Contract Specifications forming the basis for the CILs, was an alternative to the CATS Design Criteria comparison method, and it was determined that the CIL list, when complete, would serve as a de facto design basis, suitable for certifying the project.

The official review of CATS Safety and Security status and State Safety Oversight Meeting was held in December 2006, as part of the FTA Office of Safety and Security routine reviews for transit projects. All findings from the State Safety Oversight Meeting were addressed by CATS and incorporated into the certification plans.  The project was opened to the public ahead of FFGA schedule with temporary certification of operation in DATE and a final certification at the end of July 2008.

2. The Lesson

Grantees should finalize the development of Design Criteria and Safety and Security Certification items during the project design phase and prior to issuance of construction contracts.  The Grantee should also perform the following:

  •  Develop and maintain design criteria at an early stage of design.  The earlier it is developed, the lower the risks and potential changes as the project is developed.
  • Incorporate Safety and Security Certification into the project, contract designs, and specification to ensure compliance without having to issue change orders at the construction, installation, and testing stages of the project.
  • Include details of the SSC and testing into the master integrated schedule as early as possible.  These are items that are planned in advance, but change as the project advances and dates are firmed.
  • Once an issue is planned and identified, problems with it could be detected earlier and managed with less effort, minimum cost, and schedule delays.
  • Having a management plan in place to address issues as prescribed is crucial.

If a situation arises that would result in termination of any consultants or contractors, Grantees should perform a detailed and formal evaluation by experts and qualified teams to minimize impact and effects of such a termination.

Detection and evaluation of significant issues in the project could be managed without major impact to the project when it is discovered early in the project and all efforts are focused on solution and mitigation and not the failures during the project.  However, this should be used as a guideline on how to address similar situations with SSC.

3. Applicability

The lessons and recommendations of this issue could be applied to any phase of design with minimum effort or cost to the project.

4. References

  • SSC project review 11/25/06
  • Spot report 19 dated 8/28/07
  • Monthly Progress reports, including action item
Last updated: Monday, February 8, 2016