The Kansas Transportation System moves to modernize its transportation infrastructure
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is beginning an innovative program to maintain and modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure over the next 10 years. The Eisenhower Legacy Transportation (IKE) Program is focused on flexible and responsive investments to meet the shifting needs of residents, address safety concerns and keep pace with the accelerating rate of economic and technological change.
KDOT is partnering with IKE Transportation Partners (ITP), a joint venture of Garver and Burns & McDonnell that will serve as KDOT’s first-ever program management consultant. ITP provides project controls and monitoring of all projects in the $9.9 billion program through assistance with project planning, program review and support, and industry and public engagement. This joint venture also delivers various project-level support activities, such as design oversight, environmental studies, construction engineering, and facilitation of new technology integration and process improvements. This broad spectrum of services is structured to allow KDOT to not only deliver on the ambitious commitments of the IKE Program, but also strengthen the agency to deliver future programs.
Here is some additional insight into what’s happening with the IKE Program:
Why did KDOT select a program management consultant to deliver the IKE Program?
Public agencies have relied on program management consultants to help deliver transportation programs for many years, but the IKE Program marks the first time KDOT has taken this approach. Like many agencies, they see it as an effective way to expand staffing capacity and bring unique skill sets to the agency. And since we have advised them on numerous projects in the past, our team was able to hit the ground running.
Program management consultants also bring best practices to agencies. We are working hand-in-hand with KDOT to deliver this entire program, and our combined experience means we can tackle a wide range of challenges aligned with the operational improvement goals of the agency.
This kind of broad oversight will also help KDOT develop solutions that are most effective across its entire transportation system. It is common for many transportation safety projects to be reactive and focus on specific types of incidents at specific locations. As a program management consultant, we help KDOT view this work more broadly and take a proactive approach to safety across the entire system.
What are the benefits of making transparency and accountability core components of the IKE Program?
KDOT is committed to delivering this transportation program in an accountable, collaborative and transparent manner. Many organizations struggle with internal silos to some extent. With increased transparency, KDOT’s leadership and staff across the agency can make more informed decisions. One way in which KDOT is increasing transparency immediately is by launching a new website, which will inform constituents about the IKE Program and various other work underway with KDOT.
Increased transparency will also help KDOT address a common staffing challenge facing transportation agencies: the loss of institutional knowledge when employees retire or leave the organization. To meet this challenge, KDOT leadership is wisely leveraging the program management approach to document knowledge and data in a way that will facilitate knowledge transfer. This includes a plan to pull KDOT data into advanced systems that will help executives make better decisions based on data, streamline processes and deliver projects more effectively.
What innovative approaches does KDOT have planned for the next 10 years?
Many of the technologies and approaches within the transportation industry have stayed relatively stagnant over the past 40 years, but the next 10 to 20 years will bring exponential change. This accelerated change, coupled with a shift in agency staffing, will require KDOT to effectively manage its current project delivery while planning for the future. While these trends are exciting and create a lot of interest, we need to balance them against the needs of an agrarian state like Kansas that must continue to support the delivery of valuable commodities. We’re also focused on helping KDOT right-size projects more effectively, which will require a shift from a one-size-fits-all approach so KDOT can strategically tailor solutions for each location.
How does the IKE Program allow KDOT to focus on flexible and responsive investments?
The IKE Program is being delivered in a more flexible way than past programs, so it requires the rethinking of processes and extensive team collaboration. These efforts will help the program keep pace with the evolving technologies shaping the industry and transition to more flexible investments. For example, KDOT can shorten its project delivery with a design-build approach or another delivery model, allowing the agency to be more responsive to constituents and opportunities that arise.
Howard Lubliner, PE, is the lead program manager within the Transportation Group of Burns & McDonnell. Lubliner works with numerous DOTs, private clients and national industry organizations to model and improve transportation safety. Prior to joining the firm, he worked at KDOT for 16 years in a variety of roles, including roadway design, construction oversight and Highway Safety Manual (HSM) implementation.