Criteria Utilized to Rank Secondary Road Projects




Review proposed changes to the ranking criteria and process for County’s Secondary Road project Priority List



Tucker, Foley, Graham, Cilimberg, Benish, Wade






December 1, 2004


ACTION:      X                        INFORMATION: 



  ACTION:                              INFORMATION: 











Staff presented information on changes to the ranking system used for secondary road projects at the September 2, 2004 Board meeting (Attachment A). The Board of Supervisors reviewed those criteria and offered several additional changes to be included in the ranking system.  Staff has since been working with Supervisor Wyant to address some of the Board of Supervisor’s concerns and to simplify the information presented to the Board and public. 


To summarize the ranking process, Attachment A is the ranking criteria used to help rank projects within each of the defined five project types (major reconstruction, spot improvement, bridge, railroad, and unpaved road improvements). The criteria are applied by using a Successive Sub-setting Method (or Decision Tree Method) which breaks the projects into a hierarchy of subgroups as you move down the list of criteria.  The result of this process is a ranking of projects in each of the five project types noted above.  The criteria in Attachment B are those used by staff to help to prioritize/combine the separate project type rankings into a single priority list (the Proposed Priority List of Secondary Road Improvements).



3.1 Make the County a Safe and Healthy Community in which citizens feel secure to live, work and play.



The Board of Supervisors requested two additions to the ranking criteria at the September 2nd meeting. The first was to use volume capacity ratio (v/c) as a ranking criteria. A v/c ratio is a method of determining the capacity of a roadway based on a relationship of road design/geometrics to existing or projected traffic volumes. The closer the ratio is to one (1), the closer the road is to capacity, with a ratio of greater than one (1) indicating the road is over capacity. Staff has since informed the Board that this information is only available for some roads due to previous studies, but is not available comprehensively for all County roads.  Therefore, it is difficult to use this criterion in the ranking system. However, staff has incorporated this criterion into the final evaluation criteria (Attachment B) and will consider this information whenever available to help prioritize roads.  The second request was to track how long a project has been on the priority list. Staff proposes not to make this a specific evaluation criterion, but to instead more generally track this information by specifically noting on the Priority List, the year the project enters the list.   


In meeting with Mr. Wyant to discuss his ideas for improving the prioritizing process, there was general agreement with the ranking criteria and sub-setting process used to initially rank projects. The two areas that were the focus of Mr. Wyant’s and staff’s review of the process were: 1) providing the Board with more information on how the projects scored in relation to the ranking process, and 2) simplifying the review process with the Board by focusing more on a smaller set of high priority projects within the overall priority list.  


Regarding the first issue, it was felt that it would be easier for Board members to understand the relative priority of projects if some of the data on how the projects scored in relation to the evaluation criteria were more readily available.  Staff proposes to include Attachment B as a “technical addendum” to the Priority List.  This list includes the most pertinent information on projects including when the project entered the property list and the v/c ratio when available. The information on this list is essentially the criteria used now to help staff combine the projects into one Priority List. 


The second issue was the appropriateness of undertaking and reviewing detailed rankings for the extensive number of projects listed on the Priority List, particularly when construction for most of these projects is many years off. Because of the many changes that can take place over time with projects that are ranked lower on the priority list, it may not be an efficient use of Board time to deliberate on the whole list each year. It was felt that both the staff’s and Board’s time would be better served focusing on a smaller, more strategic set of projects to be pursued.  These are the projects which will be most important to move forward to construction within the next 10-20 years.  There was also discussion as to whether the smaller strategic list should become the “adopted Priority List,” with the remaining part of the existing list being an un-adopted list or another addendum to the adopted Priority List.  In either scenario, staff would continue to maintain and preliminarily rank all projects using the criteria set forth by the Board. This issue does not affect the specific ranking criteria used, but does propose a change to the focus and extent of the ranking and review process.  Staff believes that this concept has merit in that it may help to provide more focus on the important projects on the list and would be a more realistic representation to the public of the road planning, funding and timing of the road construction process. 


In summary, the following changes are proposed for the Board’s consideration and endorsement:


·         Use of ranking criteria in Attachment A and B.

·         Provide as an addendum to future Priority Lists, data from the evaluation used in the ranking of each project (Attachment B).  Available v/c ratios for projects and the length of time that projects have been included on the list will be included in this list.

·         Restructure the review process and Priority List to focus on developing/adopting a more concise strategic list of projects (“top 10-20 list”).


Due to the length of time it has taken to complete this work and VDOT’s request to have next Fiscal Year’s Priority List adopted by the beginning of the calendar year, staff will not be able to implement these changes into this year’s review of the Priority List.  If the Board is in agreement with these modifications, staff will begin implementing these changes with next year’s review of the List. 



Staff recommends the Board endorse the use of the Ranking Criteria (Attachments A and B) and also recommends the Board endorse pursuing the other changes to the review process and Priority List development noted above.  If the Board agrees to pursue these changes, staff will develop these modifications and review them with the Board prior to beginning next year’s update of the Six Year Secondary Road Plan.




Attachment A: Criteria for Secondary Road with Subsetting Data

Attachment B: Technical Addendum  

Return to agenda