Title: Incentive Fee for Performance in Public/Community Interfacing
Phase(s): Pre-Preliminary Engineering
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has embarked on the design and construction of a fixed guideway light rail transit, (LRT) system in Salt Lake County. The work currently under design/construction, identified as the University Line, is a 2.3-mile route to the east of the existing North/South line along 400 South, connecting at Main Street and extending to the Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
In the early stages of the University Line project, UTA recognized that the project would present some challenges in terms of interfacing with the public due to the proximity of businesses and residences along the alignment. In response to these challenges, a study was performed to determine ways to foster community goodwill, cooperation and coordination with the project team, in particular, the major interface entity, the Design/Build Contractor (D/BC). The grantee concluded that the most effective action would be to provide the D/BC the opportunity to earn an incentive fee for performance in this area. Specifically, the areas of maintenance of traffic and access, business and residential impact mitigation, public information and community relations (Public Interface) were identified.
The process required the formation of a Community Coordination Team (CCT). The CCT is composed of volunteers selected one each per block along the alignment. Additionally, each Stakeholder (UDOT, SLC, UTA, and the University) was allowed two representatives. UTA hired an Executive Director to conduct the meetings and to raise issues as appropriate. The CCT meets monthly to receive an update on the project and to pass on feedback to the contractor. The CCT convenes quarterly to consider the "Incentive Fee Self-Evaluation Report" prepared by the D/BC and any other pertinent information submitted by the contractor, including an oral presentation. The CCT makes a written recommendation of what it considers to be a fair and reasonable Incentive Fee for each incentive fee period and forwards the recommendation to the UTA General Manager for a final determination.
The evaluation process is designed to result in community involvement, expanded and strengthened lines of communication, a fostering of team sprit, a breakdown of perceived barriers between the entities, accelerated resolution of issues, and an overall better project execution.
In practice, problems are commonly addressed in face to face impromptu meetings that result in accelerated resolution. The resulting teaming factor and related goodwill play an important role in improving the day to day function of the project organization. The accessibility and availability of all parties greatly enhances the management and promotes further teamwork in the organization. All the participants are given a feeling of ownership in the project through their participation.
2. The Lesson
A factor that is sometimes overlooked is the interfacing/teaming/coordination of the organizations with the community and the desirability of community involvement related to the project. A project can be greatly damaged by poor performance in responding to and coordinating with the community during the construction. Recognition of the importance of this issue and providing incentives to promote high performance in this area is a positive contribution towards a successful project.
Dynamic community involvement can be a catalyst and a significant factor in the perceived success of a project. It contributes to a more informal atmosphere and the breaking down of perceived barriers between the owner/constructor organizations and the community. It promotes communications, and contributes to accelerated resolution of community related problems/situations. It is more than partnering or other such programs. It is a philosophy of integration of project members with the community into a cohesive team working towards a common goal. The members of the project team and the community must understand, endorse and foster the relationship or it will not work as intended.
This concept can be applied and would be beneficial on any project where the potential for negative community impact is high. The disruption of commerce and the normal activities of the community and individual residents must be minimized to the greatest extent possible. Developing a cohesive team between the D/B contractor and the community is critical to the success of any project in a populated area whatever the size. Every effort should be made to maximize the interface/coordination between the Project Team members and the community to overcome the perceived impacts to the community.
The most visible of all the project work occurs while the project is under construction. During the course of construction, the primary player and the focus of community attention is the contractor. Therefore, promoting a good relationship between the contractor and the community is in the best interest of the project.