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Case Studies

Transportation agencies across the United States are using INVEST to evaluate and improve sustainability within their agency and on their projects.

Case studies focus on the general use of INVEST and its implementation and/or scoring practices. Some focus more on process/application, some focus on a few select criteria, some focus on the overall experience of using INVEST. Case Studies are developed by the agency which submits them, with review and input by FHWA.

Use the map and filters below to find case studies relevant to your projects and/or agency.

Western Federal Lands - Highlighting Best Practices and Identifying Areas for Improvement

Title: Utilizing INVEST to Highlight Best Practices in Sustainability and Identify Areas for Improvement

Lead Agency: Federal Lands Highway

INVEST Modules: Project Development


 Download the Implementation of INVEST Operations and Maintenance Module at Denali National Park & Preserve Report (411 kb)

 Download the Implementation of INVEST System Planning Module on Federal Lands Collaborative Long Range Transportation Plans Report (606 kb)

 Download the WFL Best Practices Case Study (1,339 kb)

Starting in 2012, the Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFL) within the Federal Highway Administration used the INVEST Project Development (PD) module to evaluate the sustainability of its projects, increase awareness, and identify areas of improvement for current and future projects. As part of this process, WFL compiled a list of eligible projects and selected three projects that were representative of WFL work on various Federal lands to evaluate. The three projects, Powers to Agness Road, Grand Loop Road, Canyon to Tower, Phase 2, and Teton Pathways, Phase 1 and 2, averaged a score of 49 (Silver level) using the INVEST Rural Extended Scorecard. With assistance from the project managers, WFL staff carried out desktop assessments for all of the projects and field assessments for the Grand Loop Road and Teton Pathways projects. This initial year of project evaluations was mostly retrospective, and as a result, sustainability improvements were limited. However, WFL staff became more proficient and efficient at evaluations. Based on the 2012 review and how informative and educational the INVEST evaluation process was, WFL decided to select a representative sample of projects to assess in 2013. WFL selected the following under-construction or recently constructed projects:

  • Deweyville Neck Lake Road
  • North Park Road, Jackson Lake Lodge to Leeks Marina
  • Idaho Ketchum-Challis Highway (highlighted below)

Idaho Ketchum-Challis Highway

The Ketchum-Challis Highway runs along the Salmon River in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho. This project consists of reconstruction of approximately 1.3 miles of Forest Highway 26, better known as State Highway 75 (SH 75). SH 75 provides one of a few east-west links across central Idaho. Road reconstruction includes widening the existing road, stabilizing slopes prone to rockfall, installing cross-drain culverts, constructing retaining walls, and performing the secondary activities needed to support these actions. This project received a total of 43 points (Bronze level). Sustainability highlights included:

  • PD-03 Context Sensitive Project Development. This project is representative of most WFL projects with its perfect score for this criterion. Incorporating the six-step context sensitive solution framework into the project development process is a key focus of WFL projects.
  • PD-15 Historical, Archaeological, and Cultural Preservation & PD-16 Scenic, Natural, or Recreational Qualities. Many of WFL projects are along America’s Byways, State Scenic Byways, or Indian Byways and as such have significant historical, archeological, or cultural intrinsic qualities as well as scenic, natural or recreational qualities that require preservation. This project incorporates numerous actions to protect, preserve, and enhance historical, archeological, and cultural resources as well as scenic, natural, and recreational qualities. 

Moving forward, WFL will continue to use INVEST to rate a statistically significant number of projects each year and will evaluate if the project-level scores can be utilized to make WFL a more sustainable organization. WFL will be sure to select a representative cross section of projects each year with a base-line of three projects for 2014. WFL also plans to train a small number of its staff to use INVEST to increase awareness of sustainability.

Key Outcomes of Using INVEST:

  • From scoring many projects, WFL identified where they tend to score well and where they do not tend to score well. The criteria highlighted above as part of the Idaho Ketchum-Challis Highway illustrate the areas where WFL projects score well. Other criteria where WFL projects receive high scores include PD-05 Educational Outreach, PD-18 Site Vegetation, PD-22 Longlife Pavement Design, and PD-28 Construction Quality Control Plan.
  • WFL has also identified areas for improvement including:
    • PD-29 Construction Waste Management. Currently, some projects are tracking waste diversion, while others are not. While some larger contractors have their own Environmental Management Systems, which incorporate waste diversion, many smaller contractors do not. The WFL contract specifications are on a six year update cycle, so as part of the next update WFL is considering adding a requirement for contractors to track waste diversion.
    • PD-19 Recycle and Reuse & PD-20 Recycle Materials. While some of WFL’s projects have scored well with these criteria, WFL is looking to improve overall performance in these areas. WFL is particularly interested in exploring how to better reuse rock. Reusing rock can result in significant cost savings, as new rock material must be heated and washed prior to use to avoid invasive species, an expensive procedure. WFL is also examining how to better utilize reclaimed asphalt pavement for road base.
    • PD-23 Reduced Energy and Emissions in Pavement Materials. WFL is investigating how to transition from hot mix asphalt to warm mix asphalt in order to reduce energy use and emissions.
    • Using INVEST to look across a set of projects to make adjustments programmatically to overall processes as described above helped WFL maximize sustainability improvements.
  • WFL provided feedback on improvements to the INVEST tool so that it can better respond to the unique nature of Federal Land Management Agency work and the specific types of projects they carry out.

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