Practical design

The outcome of the planning process is a recommended set of multimodal strategies that are cost effective and meet the goals and objectives set early in the planning process. Recommended capital investment concepts carry forward to the project development stage.

In the design phase of project development, we continue with our performance-based approach to making project decisions. Local stakeholders are engaged at the earliest stages to ensure their input is included at the right stage of project design.

Focus on specific project needs:
With practical design, decision-making focuses on maximum benefit to the system, rather than maximum benefit to the project. The goal is to allow more needs to be addressed system wide by meeting individual project performance objectives for the least cost.

Changing with the times:
Technology and society are evolving and changing the needs and demands on the transportation system. Practical design encourages efficient, effective, and sustainable transportation decisions that can achieve:

  • Maximum results within limited funding
  • Tailored solutions for the project’s purpose and need
  • Phased solutions that address more critical and current needs
  • Design guidance that transitions from a rigid structure to a more flexible framework
  • Freedom to innovate

Practical design is an important component in implementing WSDOT’s strategic plan:

  • Innovation and solutions are encouraged
  • No compromises to safety
  • Community engagement is important to making decisions
  • Collaboration ensures a wide array of perspectives

By using practical design, project decisions will build the most efficient solutions for the state’s transportation needs.

In 2015, the WSDOT Design Manual received significant updates to reflect WSDOT’s shift to the Practical Solutions way of doing business. The 2015 Design Manual update outlines a uniform approach to design and communicates other vital information to engineering staff and consultants. Changes include guidance on examining and confirming the need for a project, considering the context and community input about a project, and an approach to translating these needs and concerns into performance metrics and targets.

Additional resources

Implementing Practical Design on Design-Build Contracts (pdf 22 kb)
WSDOT is committed to incorporating practical design principles to align our project decisions with the needs of the project and to look for cost-effective solutions. On design-build projects, WSDOT has implemented several specific processes to ensure we are embracing practical design to the fullest extent possible. Here is a summary of our efforts to champion practical design on design-build project.

FHWA Performance-Based Practical Design

Active Transportation and Demand Management Program
This FHWA video describes the differences between static, responsive and proactive system management. The video also provides example of implementing an operation solution, including some WSDOT solutions.