Connecting state and local government leaders
“Our first goals were to protect the pavement as an asset and make sure people and visitors to Seattle were able to travel,” said the city’s Project and Construction Coordination Office manager.
The Seattle Department of Transportation has used a right-of-way management platform for quite some time, but the legacy software was designed prior to the GIS boom.
While it was good at tracking projects, the city sometimes struggled with inputting data and analysis.
All the while, Seattle has witnessed unprecedented growth with a skyline punctuated by numerous cranes and fueled by a booming economy.
“We knew we had a problem,” Heather Marx, SDOT’s Project and Construction Coordination Office manager, told Route Fifty by phone. “We knew that we had to … make sure we were sequencing projects.”
Bolstered by the $930 million Move Seattle transportation levy passed by voters in 2015 for repaving and other street improvements around Seattle—projects which provide utilities an opportunity to connect their infrastructure to mainlines under the streets—the city issued a request for proposals for a right-of-way management tool project managers could use.
Seattle contracted with Los Angeles-based SADA Systems in February and had dotMaps fully functional in August. Since then, Marx’s office has seen about $800,000 in savings due to improved interagency coordination with $7 million in savings projected in the first year, after reduced construction costs and disruptions are factored in.
DotMaps visualizes all construction in the city on a map, showing project managers and utilities where resources are allocated and highlighting potential conflicts. Projects are listed by type, lead agency, project lead, and timeline and alerts can be set for new additions to the map.
Construction engineers can group projects based on geography where development is most dense, compartmentalizing timed construction sequences.
“It’s clear that cities and other government agencies can be huge beneficiaries of fast, intelligent and interactive mapping and planning solutions,” Tony Safoian, SADA Systems CEO and president, said in a statement.
The city’s coordination meetings have seen increased attendance because the data helps Marx’s office know who to invite.
Other public and private utilities can use dotMaps, the city’s choice, for capital planning. That helps, for instance, Puget Sound Energy relocate gas mains along First Avenue in downtown Seattle, which is being rebuilt to accommodate the future Center City Connector streetcar line.
SDOT has also managed to save 22 construction days on average through better sequencing of projects, saving time and money plus reducing the number of disruptions for users of the city’s street infrastructure: pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, private vehicles and commercial vehicles.
“The first thing to do is really understand what you’re trying to do. Have a goal,” Marx said. “Our first goals were to protect the pavement as an asset and make sure people and visitors to Seattle were able to travel.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.