ACEC/MW – VDOT 2020 LAP Forum

ACEC/MW Transportation Subcommittee Chair, James Thomas, P.E., discusses his key takeaways from the VDOT LAP Forum.
ACEC Metropolitan Washington (ACEC/MW) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) held the annual NOVA LAP Forum on August 20th which was, for the first time in the 6 years of this event, held entirely virtual. The presenters provided updates and information on a wide variety of topics related to Locally Administered Projects, specifically related to projects in Northern Virginia. VDOT NOVA District LAP Manager, Terry Yates, made the opening remarks which touched on the strong partnership in the NOVA District between VDOT, Localities and the Consultant community. He mentioned that of the 167 active projects currently in design, almost 70% are Locally Administered Projects (LAPs).

A major theme of this year's forum was the discussion regarding the District's current performance in FY2020, as shown on VDOT's Dashboard. VDOT's NOVA District Construction Engineer, Bill Cuttler, showed that for Project Development the District was currently at 91% on-time and on-budget for VDOT administered projects and 49% on-time and on-budget for LAPs. For Project Delivery those two metrics were 91% and 41% respectively. During the panel discussion, he remarked that the results could be improved by 10% or more simply by inputting the correct milestone dates into the Dashboard and emphasized that VDOT would like to see consistent attention paid to the Dashboard. 

Amir Salahshoor, Assistant Manager NOVA Local Assistance Section, walked through the LAP MAP while also emphasizing the importance of the Scoping Phase for putting projects on the right path to obtaining Greens on the Dashboard. He recommended getting Consultants engaged in the process as early as possible during the Scoping Phase (Baseline 1) as a more thorough review during this phase of development will ensure the Dashboard stays Green throughout the life of the project.
Related to the Dashboard scoring, Todd Minnix, Chief Transportation Design Division for Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), noted during his presentation that FCDOT had been entering the substantial completion date for their projects, as opposed to the final completion date required by VDOT's Non-VDOT Administered Projects (NVAP) system. This mis-entry had led to most of their projects showing as behind schedule due to there being an average of 95 days between the two completion dates. Todd also provided an in-depth overview of FCDOT's lessons learned concerning LAP projects and how they have used VDOT's tools to take projects successfully through development and delivery. One aspect of this is FCDOT's use of VDOT's LAP Schedule Tool. The LAP Schedule Tool provides a generic project schedule based on statewide averages that was developed for internal use. FCDOT has expanded on this tool by adding in additional activities that are specific to the County to help them provide a more accurate project schedule.

Lloyd Arnold, Local Assistance Manager from VDOT Central Office, provided insight on the data that was available through the Dashboard and the LAP Scorecard.  He said there will be an upcoming webinar from the Local Assistance Division (LAD) at VDOT to present scheduling tips for Localities and Consultants. More information on that will be released by VDOT soon. He also discussed VDOT's joint effort with VCU to better predict VDOT's oversight costs for projects and hoped that it would lead to better estimates statewide. Another tool that will be rolled out soon for LAPs will be the use of ProjectWise as a delivery method for project submittals. Some Localities are utilizing ProjectWise already, but having all Localities on-board with this process should lead to better coordination with VDOT moving forward.

Sherry Eagle from VDOT's Central Office - Construction discussed some of the issues VDOT has seen with the information Localities are entering into the Non-VDOT Administered Projects (NVAP) system. VDOT has observed that bad data entry into NVAP has led to bad performance metrics in Dashboard. She emphasized the need for Localities to enter the information into NVAP on-time and accurately to ensure good Dashboard scores.

Finally, Denise Cantwell, Project Controls Manager for NOVA District, followed on Sherry's comments by discussing some of the useful construction contract tools available from VDOT for locally administered projects. As she stated, the Dashboard measures when a contract is ready for closeout and not public satisfaction.  It should not be used as a tool to gauge the public's view of a project. She wanted to let Localities know that the LAP Team is currently working to streamline the relationship between Localities and VDOT permits. As Todd touched on during his presentation, localities like FCDOT require a land use permit for construction, whereas VDOT does not require this additional permit for the projects they manage. The difference in obtaining this permit and receiving the final C-5 from VDOT can lead to poor performance in Dashboard as it will show the delay between the substantial completion and final completion dates.  

While the 270 attendees may have missed out on the coffee and pastries, this year's event provided thorough and valuable presentations on the status of Locally Administered Projects in the District. Both Terry and Bill let the attendees know that VDOT has not seen a slowdown in projects currently in design or construction due to Covid-19, and they remain committed to moving projects forward in the near future. For those that were unable to attend, the presentations are available on ACEC/MW's website.

ACEC/MW Transportation Committee
The NOVA LAP Forum is a partnership between ACEC/MW and VDOT, specifically the ACEC/MW Transportation Committee which has organized this event with VDOT for the last 6 year. I joined the Transportation Committee, and ACEC, 2 years ago and it has provided great opportunities for me, as a Consultant, to meet with clients on a State and Local level outside of the usual project related interactions. Due to our strong relationship with entities such as VDOT, through ACEC, we are able to enact change and continue to grow our industry for the benefit of everyone, not just the Consultant community.

The ACEC/MW Transportation Committee meets monthly on the last Friday of the month with the next meeting on August 28, 2020.  The committee covers MDOT, DDOT and VDOT, rail and aviation.  It is the largest committee within ACEC/MW.  If you are interested in joining the committee, please email ACEC/MW.

James Thomas, PE, is a Principal Engineer at Parsons Corporation, a global Engineering Firm specializing in Critical Infrastructure and headquartered in Centreville, Virginia. He has over 14 years of experience designing and managing transportation projects throughout the United States and Canada for State and Local clients. James is a member of ACEC/MW and currently serves as the Virginia Transportation Subcommittee Chair.


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