Michael Anderson, Streetsblog USA
f you’d like to cut the project time of a new protected bike lane by 90 percent and the cost by 75 percent, Mike Sallaberry has some advice.
A senior transportation engineer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Sallaberry has a short piece in the new issue of ITE Journal sharing useful details on three projects in 2016 and 2017 that used the “quick-build” method. Instead of spending two years getting every detail right and then pouring permanent curbs, SFMTA built first — using paint, plastic and removable concrete islands — and asked questions both before and after.
The result, as Sallaberry explains, is a potentially more inclusive public process and a project that’s far more efficient.
“Common practice in San Francisco has been to identify the ideal result then wait for design, funding, contracting and construction to deliver the design,” says Sallaberry. “While this makes sense for many situations, a new approach was used recently where intermediate designs were implemented in the near term to act as ‘stepping stones’ to a longer term design.”
Maybe most important, the inherent flexibility of the quick-build approach makes it institutionally easier for a public agency to innovate. Without so much “fear of installing something that does not work,” Sallaberry explains, city staff feel free “to try new ideas to solve challenging issues.”
The agile process recalls modern software engineering, so it’s fitting that San Francisco is among the first cities embracing it. Here are five lessons we saw in Sallaberry’s piece for other cities interested in becoming fast followers.