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ODT’s OTIA III Bridge Program: Three Years of Environmental Stewardship

  • Author(s): Richards, Shelley D.
  • Ryan, Bill
  • et al.
Abstract

The purpose of the environmental stewardship framework is to deliver projects that are sensitive to their communities and landscape while streamlining the permitting process. After three years of implementation, we have successfully maintained the collaborative approach with regulatory partners. This has been critical to our success in avoidance and minimization of project impacts.

The OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program (the Program) is part of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) 10-year, $3 billion Oregon Transportation Investment Act (OTIA) program. OTIA funds will repair or replace hundreds of bridges, pave and maintain city and county roads, improve and expand interchanges, add new capacity to Oregon’s highway system, and remove freight bottlenecks statewide.

Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners (OBDP), a joint venture formed by HDR Engineering Inc. and Fluor Enterprises Inc., is a private-sector firm that has contracted with the ODOT to manage the $1.3 billion state bridge program. OBDP has developed a framework to integrate the myriad of tools developed for the Program, including environmental performance standards, a joint batched-programmatic biological opinion, environmental and engineering baseline reports, and a web-based GIS. The purpose of this framework is to identify environmental concerns early in the project development process and communicate these concerns to design teams and regulatory agencies to promote environmental stewardship through impact avoidance and minimization.

Innovative and creative use of technology has been a keystone to the framework. Environmental professionals input the relevant environmental data for a project in a comprehensive, on-line Pre-Construction Assessment (PCA) form. The data are used to identify project challenges (e.g., archaeological sites or wetlands within the project footprint) and compile electronic reports to the regulatory agencies. Environmental metrics, such as exempted T&E species “take” and wetland fill quantities are tracked using the GIS database. One framework meets the needs of many stakeholders.

Now, after almost three years of execution, OBDP and ODOT have some great successes and lessons learned to share. OBDP have continued to adapt and develop tools to be successful – as well as shift the Program operating structure. The focus of this presentation will be on the framework that has been utilized to maintain compliance and strive for environmental excellence.

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