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Moving Washington Forward: Practical Solutions

Practical Solutions is a performance-based approach to transportation decision-making. This data-driven approach uses the latest tools and performance measures to support decision making. The goal is to seek lower cost efficiencies in operating highways, ferries, transit and rail, and reducing travel demand to save money and to reduce the need for building costly new infrastructure expansion.

Community engagement is a key factor in helping to develop Practical Solutions. Practical Solutions are found when stakeholders work together to identify the purpose of action, assess data from all parts of the system, and examine a range of options before investment decisions are made.

Recent WSDOT design policy and technical guidance has created tools and procedures that support the type of performance-based decisions that are consistent with the Practical Solutions approach. Planners and designers are expected to evaluate the tradeoffs associated with complex design decisions, considering the implications of these decisions, and leveraging early opportunities to identify and incorporate innovative practical design solutions.

WSDOT has implemented supporting policies and training for our workforce and is using new tools to help keep our existing assets in good condition. The Practical Solutions approach will continue to evolve as WSDOT works with our partners, communities, citizens and businesses to find ways to bring low cost, effective solutions to keep transportation vital for generations to come.

Background

Mid-twentieth century transportation decisions were made to keep up with population and economic growth by expanding transportation systems. Today, we have more knowledge and better tools to make decisions that give us new, low cost, sustainable solutions. For example we are implementing strategies to keep the assets we have in a state of good repair to avoid high replacement/repair costs.

Real time Information to give travelers choices. A new era of transportation technology – intelligent transportation systems, driverless vehicles, connected vehicles, drones to deliver products and services – promise to make the existing transportation system operate more efficiently. We use data as the basis for making intelligent decisions. Our methods to communicate are advanced through the Internet and social media.

Given these circumstances, today’s transportation managers seek solutions that are practical, innovative and use the best information, data and practices to meet the mobility needs of today, as well as future generations.

Characteristics of Practical Solutions involve:
• Moving to a performance-based approach to solving transportation needs;
• Using data, new tools and best practices to preserve and maintain existing assets so that they last longer;
• Using more comprehensive tools and performance measures to support decision making, rather than using limited data such as the volume of current traffic or safety history;
• Establishing a multidisciplinary, multijurisdictional, collaborative approach to decision making so that we don’t just consider highways, but look at the entire transportation system of local roads and streets, arterials, transit, bike and pedestrian facilities, rail, air and marine;
• Enhancing community engagement efforts to craft least-cost solutions within the context of land use;
• Considering operational and demand management strategies before high cost capital projects are committed;
• Implementing low-cost solutions sooner, rather than waiting years for a high-cost project to be funded;
Using sustainable transportation practices to preserve the environment, promote transportation system efficiency, seek fiscally efficient solutions, improve and protect public health, conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases.