Managing Undefined Scope

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Title: Managing Undefined Scope

Phase(s): Preliminary Engineering

Category: Cost and Scope

Date: September 16, 2008


1. Background
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) South Corridor Light Rail Project (SCLRP) is located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and links Uptown Charlotte’s Central Business District to the I-485 Station.  The light rail line operates within the existing Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSRR) Right of Way (ROW) for approximately 9.6 miles. 

The Convention Center Modifications were necessary to allow LRT operations, but the detail scope could not be defined.  This contract included construction renovations to the Charlotte Convention Center to allow for the operation of the light rail system through the building and was managed by the City of Charlotte Department of Engineering and Property Management. The FFGA budget for this line item was $9,300,000. From this budget amount, $8,900,000 was committed to Edison Foard in the initial contract.

CATS halted bid activities in June after the Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Authority indicated it may not be willing to fund the entire project amount due to new studies for expansion of the Convention Center for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  In October 2005, the Convention Center Authority, City Engineering, City Property Management Department, and CATS identified an alternative for pedestrian circulation and proposed solutions that reduced budget and schedule impact.  This portion of the contract was reviewed by FTA/PMOC as part of the recovery plan analysis and removed from the FFGA budget as part of the Recovery Plan proposal and reclassified to be completed and funded by the City of Charlotte.

2. The Lesson
CATS management was able to handle a difficult situation with undefined scope, cost, and schedule with the following:

• Early planning of this work removed the convention center from project issues.
• Cost and schedule were established and remained unchanged.
• Project risk issues were reduced by transferring responsibility and risk to the party responsible for construction.

3. Applicability
Large projects such as CATS LRT require interface with everyone on its path.  Minimizing and/or eliminating any of these interfaces reduces risk to budget and schedule.

4. References
Documented in PMOC reports

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