SURVEY SAYS: An Inside Look at the LIRR Expansion Project’s Innovative Community Scorecard

3Q2019 Community Scorecard Results Public

Have you had the chance to grade design-build contractor 3rd Track Constructors (3TC)? Want to know more about how it’s done? AModernLI.com (AMLI) was lucky to chat with Mark Roche, LIRR Expansion Project Executive, and Hannah Spierer, Project Outreach Coordinator, to get more information on the cutting-edge Design-Builder Incentive Program and Community Scorecard.

AMLI: Tell us about the Design-Builder Incentive Program (DBIP).

Hannah Spierer (HS): The DBIP is a quarterly program that ensures the LIRR Expansion Project design-builder 3rd Track Constructors adheres to a series of “good neighbor” commitments. If 3TC meets or exceeds these commitments, they are eligible to earn a maximum of $250,000 each quarter. The Community Scorecard we distribute each quarter is one of the main ways we determine whether 3TC earns that award.

AMLI: What made you want to include a program like this?

Mark Roche (MR): We have a 9.8-mile project corridor that runs through several developed communities – people’s backyards extend right up to our property line. We need to build this project and build on time, but with the least amount of impact possible on these residents. This program encourages 3TC to exceed those commitments. We get input directly from residents, which allows us to address issues head-on. When we worked with the communities during the planning phase, we heard from hundreds of residents, and we want to continue that momentum.

AMLI: Shouldn’t 3TC already be doing all this in the first place?

MR: A contract is a floor. 3TC is contractually obligated to meet certain environmental and community quality of life commitments but, with this quarterly incentive, we want and expect more. We want to incentivize 3TC to go above and beyond, to ensure they’re being a good neighbor during construction.

AMLI: Can you give an example of this incentive in play?

MR: This program helps 3TC save money. The potential of earning $250,000 a quarter incentivizes them to be proactive and allocate the funds for construction mitigation measures that support community quality of life, such as for street cleaning. It’s a win-win for 3TC and for the communities.

AMLI: The scorecard is offered both online and mailed to people’s homes. Why’d you make that decision?

HS: We’re aware of the varying demographics throughout the project corridor, and we wanted to make sure that everyone can partake – some of the residents don’t have computers. So far, residents have participated using both paper and online options, most quarters seeing a roughly 50-50 split. It’s a testament to the success of both these mediums.

AMLI: How do you choose the questions for the scorecard?

HS: We initially based the questions on the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) signed between the LIRR and the neighboring communities, which outlines the community safety and quality of life standards by which 3TC must abide. Since the program kicked off in the summer of 2018, we’ve received a lot of helpful suggestions from residents and elected officials about the scorecard content itself, and we’ve adapted questions accordingly.

AMLI: What feedback have you gotten from the community on the program?

MR: Elected officials have embraced the Community Scorecard, saying it’s an effective tool for keeping their communities engaged. They’ve posted our scorecard on their Facebook pages and their Village websites.

HS: Even further, we’re finding people are seeking out the Community Scorecard each quarter to give feedback and submit comments to 3TC. We’re excited to see this level of engagement from stakeholders: the more feedback we get, the better we can evaluation construction techniques and tailor mitigation measures.

AMLI: What do you think the future this program holds?

MR: The project has seen immense success with this program. We’re especially proud that we’ve sustained community involvement throughout construction. This program will be a model for other MTA-mega projects as we embark on the historic 2020-2024 Capital Program. We’ve even inspired our colleagues in other parts of the world to adopt this method of community feedback, so we’re immensely proud of the program’s success.

About the LIRR Expansion Project

The construction of a third track from Floral Park to Hicksville will reduce train congestion and delays and enable true bi-directional service during peak hours with a more reliable rail network. This transformative work includes several related projects, including the construction of parking garages and accessibility improvements, retaining walls, improvements to rail bridges and the removal of eight street-level grade crossings. Construction is being managed to minimize the impact on daily routines, with extensive mitigation and public outreach efforts in local communities. For more information please visit the LIRR Expansion Project Floral Park to Hicksville project page on AModernLI.com.