State transportation agencies (STAs) have increasingly turned to practical design and performance based practical design (PBPD) to inform project development and implementation — and to reduce project costs while optimizing systemwide benefits. PBPD is a design-up philosophy that encourages agencies to formulate projects to meet the purpose and need rather than adhering to ostensibly immutable design standards. This paper reviews practical design and PBPD concepts and initiatives and their application in a variety of contexts. It also summarizes best practices STAs can use to develop a PBPD program. As a holistic approach to project design, PBPD underscores context sensitive solutions that balance the needs of all roadway users, including motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Common PBPD solutions include opting for low-cost enhancements, such as striping, signing, and rumble strips, as opposed to realignment; narrowing shoulder widths; redesigning projects to lower right-of-way costs; modifying interchange designs; and using design exceptions to build projects that fulfill project objectives. STAs committed to establishing robust PBPD programs will typically require 18 to 24 months to get a program off the ground. For an initiative to succeed, it is critical for executive leadership in an agency to advocate for PBPD; that agency staff learn about practical design and ongoing PBPD programs in other states; that a baseline performance evaluation of the tools, concepts, and resources currently used for project development be conducted; and that changes made to the project development process are thoroughly documented. The report closes with a series of recommended performance metrics the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet should consider adopting to improve its monitoring of critical bridge and roadway assets.

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© 2018 University of Kentucky, Kentucky Transportation Center

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