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Thread: Transportation planning or engineering?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    138

    Transportation planning or engineering?

    Where do I start? As the (guess the municipality) Planning Chief I have been building the brand new Transportation Planning Section here for about a year - with mucho mucho controversy. The Engineering Chief often believes I am moving into her territory - beyond planning.

    So, I ask you Cyburbia, am I entering the Engineer Chief's territory based on this [condensed] consultant proposal? Read on:

    The Boston Street Planning Study will identify a preferred alignment.

    Tasks included:
    Develop alternatives based on typical section, horizontal and vertical alignment
    Develop Display Mapping
    Develop Cost Estimate
    Develop Preliminary Stormwater Management Concept
    Complete Environmental Assessment Form and draft Categorical Exclusion
    Develop Purpose and Need
    Conduct Natural Environmental Analysis
    Conduct Socioeconomic Analysis
    Complete Cultural Resources Inventory
    Conduct Air Analysis
    Conduct HAZMAT Review
    Traffic Analysis
    Pubic Outreach and Involvement

    Where is the engineering?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Lone Star State
    Posts
    637
    My opinions, anything that needs a seal later is engineering now. Many towns around here have evolved into 3 departments, planning (Big picture planners), traffic planning (some details, usually engineers) and engineering or public works (actually buidling/operating things).
    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    The Boston Street Planning Study will identify a preferred alignment.

    Tasks included:
    Develop alternatives based on typical section, horizontal and vertical alignment (engineering if very detailed at all, showing what is possible, I see picking between them as planning)
    Develop Display Mapping (??)
    Develop Cost Estimate (engineering)
    Develop Preliminary Stormwater Management Concept (definitely engineering)
    Complete Environmental Assessment Form and draft Categorical Exclusion (engineering)
    Develop Purpose and Need
    Conduct Natural Environmental Analysis
    Conduct Socioeconomic Analysis
    Complete Cultural Resources Inventory
    Conduct Air Analysis (engineering)
    Conduct HAZMAT Review (debatable depending on what is being done, if suitability for HAZMAT traffic then it's engineering)
    Traffic Analysis (engineering)
    Pubic Outreach and Involvement (NOT engineering )

    Where is the engineering?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    27

    Planning or Engineering?

    Certainly the need for a seal means engineering, and as a rule of thumb I think of that as anything related to public safety in a broad sense. So from your list, the following are definitely considered engineering in my experience:

    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    Develop alternatives based on typical section, horizontal and vertical alignment
    Develop Cost Estimate (not so much safety as requiring engineering knowledge)
    Develop Preliminary Stormwater Management Concept
    Develop Purpose and Need (planning/engineering crossover)
    Conduct Air Analysis (emissions typically relate to traffic operations modelling)
    Conduct HAZMAT Review (I assume this relates to contaminated soils, groundwater flow etc.)
    Traffic Analysis
    and the following are usually done by environmental assessment specialists, often planners, but also often biologists:

    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    Develop Display Mapping
    Complete Environmental Assessment Form and draft Categorical Exclusion
    Conduct Natural Environmental Analysis
    Conduct Socioeconomic Analysis
    Complete Cultural Resources Inventory
    Pubic Outreach and Involvement
    A couple other things are not noted. Noise assessment is common in Ontario, and that's typically engineering. Also snow drifting analysis is becoming a big safety issue in recent years on rural projects and that is requiring specialists who are typically engineers.

    Finally since most EAs around here end up at a Preliminary Design stage, they are typically managed by an engineer with planners on the team, not the other way around.

    It seems to me that planning and engineering meet in the long range traffic modelling area because there is little detail, but anything that gets down to an operational level is engineering. In practice we have planners working alongside engineers routinely, and even employ registered professional planners who are also licenced professional engineers - they tend to specialze in modelling.

    I hope this helps!
    Last edited by Don; 02 May 2008 at 10:37 AM. Reason: minor clarification of items not noted by OP

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2005
    Location
    North Florida
    Posts
    608
    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    Where do I start? As the (guess the municipality) Planning Chief I have been building the brand new Transportation Planning Section here for about a year - with mucho mucho controversy. The Engineering Chief often believes I am moving into her territory - beyond planning.

    So, I ask you Cyburbia, am I entering the Engineer Chief's territory based on this [condensed] consultant proposal? Read on:

    The Boston Street Planning Study will identify a preferred alignment.

    Tasks included:
    Develop alternatives based on typical section, horizontal and vertical alignment
    Develop Display Mapping
    Develop Cost Estimate
    Develop Preliminary Stormwater Management Concept
    Complete Environmental Assessment Form and draft Categorical Exclusion
    Develop Purpose and Need
    Conduct Natural Environmental Analysis
    Conduct Socioeconomic Analysis
    Complete Cultural Resources Inventory
    Conduct Air Analysis
    Conduct HAZMAT Review
    Traffic Analysis
    Pubic Outreach and Involvement

    Where is the engineering?
    These items are in the civil engineering realm;

    Develop alternatives based on typical section, horizontal and vertical alignment
    Develop Preliminary Stormwater Management Concept

    These are the two wich could be considered having a possiblity of 'endagering the motoring public'.....
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    138

    No seals whatsoever

    The way our DOT is set up, Planning develops the concept and passes to engineering for full design - and understand everything is done by "full service" consultants with teams of planners and engineers, we manage the process.

    If one does not develop a section, HA and VA - how do you even consider where the road is placed to develop a feasible concept?

    how can we conduct any sort of enviro/noise/soci/cultural impact if we can't place the road?

    All traffic analysis is conducted in my section so that's a gimme.

    There is lots of crossover and Planning involves engineering in the scoping process as well as estimating. How can we seperate one from the other?

    Admittedly, it's hard for me to distinguish because I practiced private engineering for almost 9 years before running a public transportation planning Section.

  6. #6

    Boston Street

    I guess it probably depends on which section of Boston Street you're talking about... but if it is the more urban section near Fells Point, then your team is not complete without a good urban designer/landscape architect. My bias is that engineers place too high an emphasis on the fact that only they understand how to design streets, stormwater, etc.

    So, my personal feeling is that you are not overstepping your bounds (it sounds like a planning/feasibility level study anyway) and that you involve engineering as you go so they feel like they have been able to weigh in.

    - Matt.

    P.S. I worked for Portland's Office of Transportation for 11 years as a project manager/urban designer, and have a background in landscape architecture - so my answer may come off as slightly colored by my own experience...

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