OLYMPIA –When the state invests transportation tax dollars, how can taxpayers know that they’re getting the most for their money? Do safety projects really reduce the risk of collisions? Are transportation projects being delivered on budget?
To help answer questions like these, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) publishes the Gray Notebook, a quarterly performance report now celebrating its 10th year.
One example of the hundreds of performance measures WSDOT analyzes and reports on during the year, is a “before-and-after” evaluation of the effectiveness of shoulder and centerline rumble strips. The 3,400 miles of rumble strips installed on Washington’s roadways have contributed to a decrease in serious traffic collisions for a relatively moderate cost.
WSDOT also reports quarterly on highway improvement projects paid for by the 2003 and 2005 transportation funding packages. To date, 94 percent of the 300 projects completed have been delivered on or under budget.
“We’re proud to celebrate 10 years of performance management and accountable reporting,” Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said. “It’s important that we have clear transportation objectives so we can invest taxpayer dollars in a way that meets the needs of our communities and ensures that the investment provides real benefits.”
The 10th anniversary edition of the Gray Notebook, published this week, features performance reports for several programs including freight mobility, highway safety, project delivery, and environmental and water quality programs. This edition also includes spotlight reports on the State Route 520 Floating Bridge replacement, new ferry construction and the North Spokane Corridor projects.
The report includes:
· Highway safety: Analysis of the five most frequent collision types shows that WSDOT safety initiatives help lower collision rates by up to 23 percent. WSDOT’s ongoing focus on run-off-road and intersection collisions also includes outreach to Washington counties. (Focus on Highway System Safety Programs; pp. 6-8)
Freight: Truck freight volumes on Washington highways are slowly returning to pre-recession levels. WSDOT’s innovative truck bottleneck identification project will help pinpoint chokepoints across the state. The report covers all modes: roads, air, marine, and rail. (Trucks, Goods & Freight Annual Report; pp. 42-50)
· Stormwater: WSDOT constructed 202 stormwater management facilities in 2010 that help prevent polluted runoff from entering natural bodies of water. WSDOT also completed 100 percent of scheduled inspections required by its stormwater pollution prevention plans. (Water Quality Annual Report; pp. 32-37)
· Safety rest areas: Approximately 22.3 million travelers used WSDOT’s safety rest areas in 2010, up 2.5 percent from the previous year. The level of service score remains at ‘B-’ for the second year. (Safety Rest Areas Annual Safety and Preservation Reports; pp. 9-10, 12-14)
· Project delivery: As of March 31, 2011, WSDOT has delivered a total of 300 Nickel and Transportation Partnership Account (TPA) projects valued at $4.1 billion, on target with the funding provided in the 2010 Supplemental Transportation Budget. (See the Beige Pages for a quarterly report of WSDOT’s Capital Project Delivery Program; pp. 57-87.)