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April 23, 2015

Town+ Gown

Roadway.3—A Work in Progress Continues

At Town+Gown’s first working group meeting, which was intended to be a smaller and more tightly focused conversation event than is possible in standard Town+Gown Symposium events, Town+Gown continued to move forward a series of action research cycles on issues related to the roadway. The targeted objective of this working group meeting was to explore implementation of actions and strategies that look at the “whole street” for integrated planning, financing, budgeting and communications purposes. 

Several action research cycles had emerged from an early completed Town+Gown project that explored how the City might incorporate long-term life cycle cost and full cost/benefit analyses to evaluate proposed sustainable roadway projects. The first action research cycle focused on historical practices and practices involving a complex set of relationships among the City, as owner of the streets on behalf of the public, and the private and public utilities operating beneath those streets that tend to inhibit the use of innovative engineering design options that would increase the useful life of roadway surfaces and avoid costs incurred by current practices and policies. The second action research cycle focused specifically on projects for green infrastructure add-on elements to standard roadway reconstruction projects and another completed Town+Gown project that created a workable life cycle cost benefit model for such infrastructure add-on projects as a route to create the expanded roadway life cycle cost benefit model that could be used in the capital planning and budgeting processes. The last action research cycle involved a communications design-based investigation into the City’s infrastructure projects in the public right of way (PROW) that millions of New Yorkers encounter every day as they navigate the City, exploring how these countless interactions representing moments of opportunity for the City to engage, inform and even elicit feedback from its communities on projects under way could benefit from further explanation by the City—the intention of either the design process or the physical manifestation of the project is not directly visible to the passerby. 

The working group conversation involved assessing the comprehensiveness of various operational and design strategies that emerged during the research projects in providing a solution in relation to geospatial incidence, initial and ongoing technical feasibility, and ease of implementation across many variables including coordination among stakeholders within and outside government, enforcement and financing.