The Chicago Department of Transportation recently launched the Project Coordination Office to oversee roadway repair and maintenance projects that not only cost the city money but continually inconvenience local residents. In a bustling city such as Chicago, reducing the number of construction projects could significantly improve congestion issues while reducing maintenance-related costs. In its first year of existence, the Project Coordination Office was able to save the city $10 million, with larger cuts expected in the future.
The Chicago Project Coordination Office works collaboratively with all city departments and private utility providers to work out project schedules more effectively so projects can overlap as much as possible, thus reducing the amount of time residents are inconvenienced.
Furthermore, when utility projects are launched, roadways are often torn up to allow access to pipes, gas lines and electrical infrastructure. This requires frequent maintenance on roadways that expedites the demand for complete repaving of streets to maintain structural integrity and safety for drivers.
Therefore, when the Project Coordination Office is able to schedule maintenance initiatives in certain locations simultaneously, roadways undergo less construction, residents experience minimal inconvenience and significant funding is saved.
How It Works
The Project Coordination Office makes use of automated database scheduling focused on algorithms to prevent conflicts and streamline processing. In-person meetings of department representatives are also part of the scheduling initiative, making sure concerns, issues and complaints are heard and factored into the strategies. The office has deployed an Underground Coordination Database where private and public organizations submit their information as well as nightly reports on all activities. Continually evaluating the processes and encouraging discussions between departments has increased collaboration and minimized costly, time-consuming conflicts.
In addition, the Project Coordination Office has also enabled the Chicago Department of Transportation to repair infrastructure faster and more efficiently. Because Chicago is known for not only its traffic congestion but also celebrations and neighborhood festivals, it is imperative that the roadways are preserved and made available for such community activities. The new scheduling program has allowed the city to work around the festivals and activities to limit community disruption and increase public value.
In 2012, the Project Coordination Office saved Chicago more than $10 million while allowing 1,224 ADA sidewalk ramps, seven miles of 55 blocks of sidewalk and 10 miles of 77 blocks of street resurfacing to be completed.
The city’s new infrastructure improvement program calls for the replacement of 75 miles of water mains, 17 miles of sewer mains and 49 miles of sewers by the end of the year. About 64 miles of arterial streets, 130 miles of residential streets and 20 miles of alleys are also to be worked on while saving millions of dollars.
Chicago is effectively reducing one of two negative externalities from economic activity, according to researchers from Rice University. Pollution and congestion are most commonly cited as downsides to redevelopment projects. Thus, coordinating projects to reduce time, money and community impact will lessen these effects and boost overall performance.