Performance-based project evaluation model

Learn how performance-based project evaluation helps WSDOT compare future projects and make recommendations to the State Legislature for funding projects that best meet statewide transportation goals.

Statewide transportation policy goals

The evaluation model measures projects based on the six Transportation Goals (RCW 47.04.280) established by the State Legislature.

  • Safety: To provide for and improve the safety and security of transportation customers and the transportation system.
  • Preservation: To maintain, preserve, and extend the life and utility of prior investments in transportation systems and services.
  • Mobility: To improve the predictable movement of goods and people throughout Washington, including congestion relief and improved freight mobility.
  • Environment: To enhance Washington's quality of life through transportation investments that promote energy conservation, enhance healthy communities and protect the environment.
  • Economic Vitality: To promote and develop transportation systems that stimulate, support, and enhance the movement of people and goods to ensure a prosperous economy.
  • Stewardship: To continuously improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of the transportation system.

Additionally, the evaluation model uses the 2021 Health Environment for All (HEAL) Act to consider health and equity in making decisions and recommendations about projects and programs.

What we’ve already done

In 2020, the Washington state Legislature directed us to study the feasibility of performance-based evaluation of transportation projects. Our study included:

  • Looking at how WSDOT has used the transportation policy goals to make decisions.
  • Reviewing our current tools and procedures for evaluating performance.
  • Asking for feedback from stakeholders, including traditionally underserved and historically disadvantaged populations, to help inform how we and the Legislature could evaluate transportation investments.
  • Analyzing how we engage and communicate with stakeholders, including people who have been historically underrepresented, about project evaluation.

WSDOT provided results of the study to the legislature in the 2020 Performance-based Project Evaluation Feasibility Report (PDF 926KB).

In 2022, the Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to complete a performance-based project evaluation model based on the 2020 feasibility report. We created a summary of the model functionality and implementation recommendations to the legislature in the 2023 Performance-based Project Evaluation Model Summary Report (PDF 1MB).
The evaluation model evaluates a list of proposed transportation projects in three steps:

  • Expert staff prioritize each project in meeting the needs of transportation system.
  • WSDOT subject matter experts score each project on how well the meet Washington's six transportation policy goals.
  • WSDOT experts assesses potential benefits and burdens from each proposed project on overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.

Once the evaluations are done, the model provides ranked project recommendations that the legislature may use in making transportation investment decisions.

Our next steps and opportunities for your input

First, we need data to give our experts the ability to compare projects consistently and effectively. We do this by:

  • Choosing the best data sets to inform how we measure performance.
  • Setting ways to consistently compare measures between projects.
  • Knowing any gaps in available data and ways to overcome them.
  • Looking at how data and methods remain current over time.

We need your input on the model to represent your values and interest. We want to work with interested partners and the community to explain how the model works and get your ideas to make it better. We'll begin the next effort in early 2024 with events between February and May that may include:

  • Facilitated virtual workshops.
  • Online open houses.
  • Interviews with transportation partners and community groups.

Sign up with GovDelivery to be contacted about upcoming events. You can also download and share this Performance-based Project Evaluation Model Information (PDF 276KB) with friends and family.

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Even one life lost is too many.

Fatal work zone crashes doubled in 2023 - Washington had 10 fatal work zone crashes on state roads.

It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.

95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.