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Pilot Projects to Validate the Results of T-PICS

Solicitation Number: SHRP2_C33
Agency: The National Academies
Office: Transportation Research Board
Location: SHRP2
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SHRP2_C33
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Added: Jul 19, 2011 9:01 am
C33: Pilot Projects to Validate the Results of T-PICS

SHRP 2 Request for Proposals


Focus Area: Capacity
Project Number: C33
Project Title: Pilot Projects to Validate the Results of T-PICS
Date Posted: July 19, 2011


SHRP 2 Background


To address the challenges of moving people and goods efficiently and safely on the nation's highways, Congress has created the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2). SHRP 2 is a targeted, short-term research program carried out through competitively awarded contracts to qualified researchers in the academic, private, and public sectors. SHRP 2 addresses four strategic focus areas: the role of human behavior in highway safety (Safety); rapid highway renewal (Renewal); improved travel time reliability through congestion reduction (Reliability); and transportation planning that better integrates community, economic, and environmental considerations into new highway capacity (Capacity). Under current legislative provisions, SHRP 2 has received approximately $235 million with total program duration of 9 years, ending in spring 2015. Additional information about SHRP 2 can be found on the program's Web site at www.trb.org/shrp2.


Capacity Focus Area


The charge from Congress to SHRP 2 Capacity is to develop approaches for systematically integrating environmental, economic, and community requirements into the analysis, planning, and design of new highway capacity. The scope of the SHRP 2 Capacity program extends from the early stages of the transportation planning process, when many potential alternatives are being considered, through project development. When decisions include a major highway component, further development of the highway option is within the scope of the program. When decisions are made that lead to non-highway options, further development of the non-highway component is outside the scope.


Project Background


One of the Capacity Focus Area's product groupings involves improving the ability of transportation agencies to forecast the long-term economic development impacts of highway capacity projects. Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (T-PICS) is a web-based tool that provides access to a national database of pre- and post-construction case studies that can be used to assess the economic development and related effects of various kinds of transportation projects. SHRP 2 Capacity Project C03 developed the database of 100 case studies that provide economic indicators from both before and after construction of various types of transportation projects. A rigorous protocol that controls for exogenous circumstances was followed in developing the case studies. The method and data are transparent so users can decide the value of the findings for themselves. With the T-PICS web-based tool users can estimate the likely economic impacts of a proposed or planned highway capacity project by comparing it to the cases in the database. Project types contained in the database include bypasses, beltways, limited-access roads, interchanges, local access roads, bridges, widening projects, connectors, intermodal freight facilities, intermodal passenger facilities, and bundled projects that accomplish more than one purpose. T-PICS is currently available on the Internet for beta test purposes; the web tool contains full user documentation including a user guide, a data dictionary, a meta analysis using the case study data, and background on how the 100 case studies were developed (See Special Note 1).



Objective of Project C33


The intent of this project is to engage several teams of public-sector transportation agencies (state transportation agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, regional planning agencies, and localities) and (if desired) their consultants in pilot tests of the utility of T-PICS as a tool for enhancing decision making in the planning of highway capacity additions. For the purposes of this project, ‘utility' has several dimensions, including the usability of the T-PICS web tool, the validity of the estimates of project impacts produced by T-PICS, and the applicability of the 100 case studies in the database to typical transportation planning problems addressed by transportation agencies. For SHRP 2, the objective of the project is to determine whether the T-PICS web tool is useful and helpful to transportation agencies and whether it produces results that are credible and reasonable. For transportation agencies, engagement in this project will provide an opportunity to use and apply the T-PICS web tool to improve their own economic impact assessment capability. The results of this work will include an assessment of T-PICs in the dimensions defined here; additional guidance for future T-PICS users; and recommendations for improving and extending T-PICS. It is important for teams preparing proposals to be very familiar with T-PICS, to fully appreciate SHRP 2's objectives for this pilot test, and to communicate this understanding in their proposals.


Possible Test Approaches


Teams of agencies participating in the pilot tests described here will use T-PICS on a trial basis to address economic impact issues confronted in the planning of additions to highway capacity and will provide feedback to SHRP 2 on the functionality of the web tool, the validity of the economic impact estimates produced, and the relevance of the database of 100 case studies that it contains. Using this feedback, SHRP 2 may then revise T-PICS as appropriate and as time and resources permit. It is expected that contractors will spend the bulk of their budgets and time on testing the validity of economic impact estimates; fewer resources should be spent on testing the functionality of the web tool and considering whether the 100 existing T-PICS case studies are relevant.



The tests proposed by the collective set of research teams must involve a variety of highway capacity-related projects that have already been completed and have been in place and used for a minimum of five years so that ranges of impacts estimated by T-PICS can be compared against actual experience in the field. Ideally, teams will propose to test T-PICS on projects in which previous impact assessments have been made using tools other than T-PICS (e.g. input-output analysis, dynamic economic models, or other tools) so that comparative assessments with the other tools can be readily made during the pilot tests. In such cases, the teams should compare the time and resources required to use T-PICS for impact estimation against the time and resources required for applying other impact estimation tools.


Selection Criteria


Multiple awards (up to three) are expected for this project, but not necessarily for equal dollar amounts. Each proposing team may offer to evaluate one or several highway capacity projects. The nature, extent, and quality of the testing proposed, the projects to be tested, and the budgets will be considered in proposal selection. A maximum of $300,000 is available for all pilot tests combined. Additional funding outside the budget of Project C33 has been reserved by SHRP 2 to provide technical support to the selected sites from the consultant team that designed and built T-PICS (See Special Note 2).


A state transportation agency, metropolitan planning organization, or regional planning agency may lead a proposal, but a state transportation agency must be involved in some way (e.g., in an advisory or collaborative capacity) in every proposal. Consultants or universities may also be part of a proposal team and may submit the proposal on behalf of a public agency or team of public agencies. However, agencies that were involved in SHRP 2 Project C03 as developers of the database content, analytics, or user interface of T-PICS may not participate because the C33 project is designed to be an independent evaluation and validation of T-PICS. Of course proposers should not select any of the projects already contained among the 100 T-PICS case studies in assembling their proposed list of projects to be evaluated.


The standard SHRP 2 proposal selection criteria apply (see General Note 1). In summary, these are: understanding of the problem, quality of the proposal, experience and qualifications of the research team, a plan for participation by disadvantaged businesses, and adequacy of facilities (if special facilities are needed). In addition, the following criteria will also be applied:


1. Level of collaboration: multiple stakeholders such as state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, regional planning agencies, city and county agencies, or Federal Highway Administration Division Offices may be important team partners depending on the nature of the projects proposed.
2. Whether the projects selected for the pilot test are a good test of T-PICS and are generally applicable to transportation planning practice elsewhere. Highly unusual highway capacity projects should generally not be included in lists of projects to be evaluated, since they will likely fall well outside the range of the 100 T-PICS case studies.
3. Quality of the plan for the pilot test. In other words, how will the usability and validity of results from T-PICS be determined? What percentage of the proposed work is devoted to this assessment? 


4. Assurance that sufficient data are likely to be available to assess the validity of T-PICS against real-world economic impact results.
5. Proposed budget compared with the value to be provided to SHRP 2.
6. The expert task group will also consider a balanced selection of pilot tests considering diversity and numbers of highway capacity projects proposed, breadth of the proposed scope, quality of the proposed statement of work, and ability to complete the work in the time allocated.


Proposal Content


Proposal preparation should be guided by A Manual for Conducting Research and Preparing Proposals for SHRP 2, available on line at TRB.ORG/SHRP2 under Resources.


As noted in Section IV of the Manual for Conducting Research, item 5a, Research Plan Introduction, the proposal should explain WHAT is to be done and WHO is going to do it. It should describe in great detail the highway capacity-related projects on which T-PICS will be tested.


To aid in evaluation of proposals, please include these additional items:

1. Name of the proposing state department of transportation and/or metropolitan planning organization or regional planning commission.
2. Letter of commitment signed by an executive-level officer of the lead agency.
3. Statement that the lead public agency will contribute at least 25% of the level-of-effort. This should be reflected in the detailed project budget.
4. FHWA Division Office contact. FHWA Division offices are expected to be involved in any project that is selected.
5. Identification of all other partners, including consultants or universities, and the role each will play. Briefly describe the experience of the team in relation to the proposed pilot test(s). (Qualifications of team members can be described in more detail in Section 6 of the proposal.)
6. Detailed description of the process to be used in evaluating the usability and functionality of the T-PICS web tool.
7. Detailed description of the process to be used in assessing the validity of the economic impact assessments produced by T-PICS. As noted in the Manual under item 5b, Research Approach, describe HOW pilot tests and the assessment will be conducted.
8. List of candidate highway capacity projects proposed for testing economic impacts with T-PICS. For each candidate project, discuss in detail the availability of data to be used and alternative assessment tool results that could be included. Discuss the standards by which T-PICS assessments will be judged valid or not valid.
9. Description of the process to be used in assessing whether additional case studies (beyond the existing 100) are needed in the T-PICS data base.
10. Statement that the schedule can be met (18 months starting in January 2012, including reserving three months for report review and revision.)
11. Description of the project work schedule, including a time line by task.


Tasks
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. SHRP 2 is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meet the research objectives.


The proposal must use a task structure to describe the approach and must provide a cost estimate for each task in the Budget section. (See Item 11 of Manual section IV)


(Required Task). Participate in a training session hosted by SHRP 2 at the start of the contract period. The training session will include an introduction to economic impact assessment, a walk-through of the T-PICS web tool and project database, and a discussion of how to conduct a pilot project for SHRP 2.


(Required Task). Prepare a detailed work plan with deliverables to ensure a successful pilot test. Convene a meeting of the partners to review roles, responsibilities, and schedule as described in this proposal. Establish an internal communication procedure among the partners and an external communication procedure with SHRP 2 staff and technical assistance consultants provided by SHRP 2. Agree on milestones.


(Sample Task). Establish the monitoring procedures as described in the work plan. Develop a working outline of the final report (looking ahead) and identify a technical memorandum structure organized around the outline. This provides a structure for documenting interim products and saves a lot of re-writing at final report time.


(Sample Task). Execute the elements of the pilot test as proposed. This may be shown as several tasks depending on how the work is organized. For instance, it will likely be useful to have sub-tasks related to usability testing, validity testing, and examination of whether additional T-PICS case studies are needed and their types.


(Sample Task). Prepare technical memoranda according to a schedule of milestones and submit to SHRP 2 for review. It will be desirable to have separate technical memoranda regarding the usability of T-PICS, the validity of T-PICS results, and the need for additional case studies.

(Required Task). Prepare a draft final report and submit to SHRP 2 for review (at the 15- month point). The report should incorporate material from all of the previous technical memoranda, draw conclusions, and make recommendations for the future improvement and use of T-PICS. Prepare and provide metadata describing all projects used in evaluating the validity of economic-impact assessments produced by T-PICS. (Metadata is a description of the data in a data source; it may describe things such as the conditions under which data were collected, the means of collection, the date of collection, accuracy, and definitions of individual data elements within the source.)


(Required Task). After the tests are completed, participate in a roundtable discussion with representatives from other pilot test sites to share findings, observations, and recommendations.


(Required Task). Prepare a final report that responds to comments from the SHRP 2 C33 T-ETG and staff.



Deliverables

• Participation in the initial orientation and training session near the beginning of the project
• Detailed work plan for the pilot test, including delivery dates for other deliverables
• Technical memoranda addressing the following major topics:
     o Usability and functionality of T-PICS
     o Validation of the economic-impact assessment results produced by T-PICS versus actual project experience and versus other assessment tools utilized by the team as applicable
     o Relevance of the 100 case studies contained in T-PICS and the need for additional case studies to fill perceived gaps in the database
• Draft Final Report (after 15 months), containing:
     o A compilation of the technical memoranda
     o A concise set of conclusions regarding the usability and functionality of T-PICS
     o Recommendations for improving the usability and functionality of T-PICS generated during the test
     o A concise set of conclusions regarding the validity of T-PICS economic impact estimates
     o Suggestions for additional T-PICS case studies, including detailed descriptions of suggested projects where available
     o Suggestions for how T-PICS can best be used in transportation agency planning, including long-range planning, corridor planning, public involvement/community visioning, and programming of projects (if the team finds T-PICS is useful and produces valid results).
     o Suggestions for providing training in the use of T-PICS by transportation agency professionals (if the team finds T-PICS is useful and produces valid results)
     o Suggestions for marketing T-PICS to transportation agencies (if the team finds T-PICS is useful and produces valid results)
• An appendix containing metadata regarding the projects that were used by the team to evaluate T-PICS; this could be in the form of a spreadsheet
• Participation in a roundtable discussion with representatives from other test sites near the end of the project.
• Revised Final Report


Special Notes


1. The draft Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (T-PICS) web tool is available for beta test purposes at http://www.tpics.us
and at http://transportationforcommunities.com/t-pics/


2. If needed, assistance will be available from SHRP 2 and a team of contractors involved in the development of T-PICS during the test period. This may include technical assistance with T-PICS and assistance with the conduct of the pilot test. Contact David Plazak at SHRP 2 to request assistance.


3. Proposers may find it useful to refer to the following Internet resources related to transportation project economic impact assessment:


http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/asstmgmt/primer08.cfm


http://sites.google.com/site/tedcommittee/home



Funds Available: $300,000 total. Multiple awards are anticipated, so this total will likely be divided among several proposing teams.


Contract Period: 18 months for the entire project. SHRP 2 ends in March 2015. Our goal is to have all final deliverables for this project by summer 2013, well before this program termination date to allow for editing and publication of reports from the pilot project location teams and incorporation of findings and recommended revisions into T-PICS as is practical. The contract period allows 15 months for carrying out the pilot test. Three months should be scheduled for review of the draft report and delivery of the final report.


Responsible Staff: David Plazak, dplazak@nas.edu, 202-334-1834


Authorization to Begin Work: January 2012, estimated


 


Proposals (20 single-bound copies) are due not later than 4:30 p.m.
Eastern Daylight Time on August 31, 2011

This is a firm deadline, and extensions simply are not granted. In order to be considered, all 20 copies of the agency's proposal, accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or they will be rejected.


Delivery Address
PROPOSAL-SHRP 2
ATTN: Neil F. Hawks
Director, Strategic Highway Research Program 2
Transportation Research Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-334-1430


Liability Statement


The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered Liability Statement in order for SHRP 2 to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be rejected.


An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement. The Liability Statement is Figure 1 in the Manual for Conducting Research and Preparing Proposals for SHRP 2 (http://www.onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/shrp2/PreparingSHRP2Reports.pdf) (see General Note 4). Here is a printable version of the SHRP 2 Liability Statement: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/shrp2/LiabilityStatement.pdf. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.


 


General Notes
1. Proposals will be evaluated by SHRP 2 staff and Expert Task Groups (ETGs) consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the SHRP 2 Oversight Committee, based on the recommendation from SHRP 2 staff and the ETG. The following factors are considered: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experimental design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the proposer's plan for participation by disadvantaged business enterprises-small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (5) the adequacy of facilities.

TRB and the SHRP 2 Oversight Committee strongly encourage the significant participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in SHRP 2 research contracts. Although no quota is specified nor is DBE participation mandated, the proposer's plan for involvement of DBEs is a factor in selection of the research contractor, and the contractor's adherence to its DBE plan will be monitored during the contract period. The "Research Team Builder" section of the SHRP 2 web site (http://www.trb.org/StrategicHighwayResearchProgram2SHRP2/Pages/Research_Team_Builder_177.aspx) is a resource for proposers interested in participating on research teams.


2. Any clarifications regarding this RFP will be posted on the SHRP 2 Web site (www.TRB.org/SHRP2). Announcements of such clarifications will be posted on the front page and, when possible, will be noted in the TRB e-newsletter. Proposers are advised to check the Web site frequently until August 10, 2011, after which no further comments will be posted.


3. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.


4. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the Manual for Conducting Research and Preparing Proposals for SHRP 2 (http://www.onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/shrp2/PreparingSHRP2Reports.pdf). Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section IV for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform to these requirements will be rejected.


5. The total funds available are made known in the project statement and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.


6. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.


IMPORTANT NOTICE



Potential proposers should understand that the research project described herein is tentative. The final content of the program depends on the level of funding made available. Nevertheless, to be prepared to execute research contracts as soon as possible after sponsors' approvals, the Strategic Highway Research Program is assuming that the tentative program will become official in its entirety and is proceeding with requests for proposals and selections of research agencies.

:
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20001
United States
:
David Plazak,
Sr. Program Officer
Phone: 202-334-1834
:
Linda Mason,
communications officer
Phone: 202-334-3241