Q: Is practical solutions just another word for value engineering?
A: Value Engineering (VE) is a facilitated workshop, that is used during the design phase of projects, with the goal of getting better procurements, reducing bid protests, and identifying cost effective designs. VE is a requirement on projects costing more than $25 million and bridge projects costing more than $20 million. VE is one of many tools and practices that can be used to develop practical design solutions.
Practical solutions is a performance based approach used in all phases of project development, asset management, planning, program management, environmental analysis, design, construction, and operation. At the earliest stages, there is increased emphasis to ensure alternative solutions consider all modes. Practical solutions also emphasizes concise definition of the project performance needs to include only the work necessary to achieve the needed improvement. In doing so, the system as a whole receives the greatest return on investment.
Q: Are practical solutions and context sensitive solutions the same?
A: Here at WSDOT, we are using the terms practical solutions and context sensitive solutions interchangeably.
Q: What do you mean by practical solutions “consider all modes”?
A: Practical solutions principles can be applied in all phases of project development. When used during initial planning, practical solutions encourages consideration of all modes of travel as potential strategies are developed in the alternative analysis process. All modes, in this context, could potentially include transit and non-motorized travel strategies, such as biking and walking, to help address all or part of the performance need. In other words, in considering ways to address transportation needs on the state system, all modes of travel, including non-WSDOT system improvements, may be considered.