“By rethinking streets, localities can deliver better economic performance, new transportation choices, and a higher quality of life,”

- Quick Builds supporters

Cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, and groups such as PeopleForBikes, are leading the charge in pushing “Quick Builds” as a new project delivery model for better streets. Supporters, some of whom refer to Quick Builds as “tactical urbanism,” say cities should rethink the purpose of streets and recognize that the freeway era is gone. (Evidently, they haven’t been in Southern California during rush hour traffic.)

Supporters say streets should be designed for pedestrians, bicyclists, and of course, the occasional car and that “by rethinking streets, localities can deliver better economic performance, new transportation choices, and a higher quality of life.”

San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transit Agency’s Livable Streets Unit uses Quick Build for both small and large-scale capital projects, as well as for a number of what it calls “hybrid” projects that incorporate both geometry changes and large-scale construction changes. The work is performed by San Francisco’s Livable Streets Unit and its Department of Public Works. The Livable Streets Unit does the installations, such as pavement color or plastic delineators, while Public Works does the concrete pouring and asphalt resurfacing. Based on initial research, it appears that Quick Build projects use force account labor rather than bidding out the work.

Quick Builds supporters look to local sources of funding instead of state and federal sources because of the delays and because state transportation departments question the new street designs and their implementation strategies. Also, many states control highway routes that double as city streets, which adds another barrier to the use of Quick Builds as a delivery method. In response to these obstacles, cities such as Seattle are working at the state level to arrange state and federal funding support specifically for Quick Build projects.

On this note, it’s interesting that the City of Los Angeles Council discussed a report for maintaining and expanding the bike path network in Los Angeles. This report was 36 pages in length. During the same meeting, the council received and filed a report entitled “Fiscal Year 2019-20 Failed Street Reconstruction” which was one page.

In this report, one of the items discussed is that failed streets with previous liability payouts and service requests will be one of the priorities and that these streets will include coordination with the city’s Department of Transportation to include elements of their programs and bike lanes. (Los Angeles defines “failed streets” as having a Pavement Condition Index of 40 or lower.)

The use of Quick Builds as an alternate delivery method by municipalities deserves watching.

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