Problems in Agency Coordination

Title: Problems in Agency Coordination

Phase(s): Pre-Preliminary Engineering, Preliminary Engineering and Final Design

Category: Management

Date: January 17, 1995


1. Background
The St. Louis Light Rail Project, known as MetroLink, involved the federal government, two states, the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County in Missouri, the City of East St. Louis, Illinois, and a host of participating and affected agencies. As stated in the MetroLink Project Management Plan (PMP): "One of the most critical elements in the successful implementation of MetroLink is coordination by and between local, regional, state and federal participants. Inter-governmental and inter-agency coordination is required throughout final engineering, construction and pre-revenue operations for guidance in the execution of the technical work of the project at a minimum, and in some cases, for expediting specific approvals, permits, licenses, etc."  Contact with the various agencies was complicated on the MetroLink project by change of grantee. East-West Gateway Coordinating Council was grantee for the alternatives analysis and preliminary engineering, and Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA) was grantee for final design and construction. This change was made because BSDA was to be the eventual owner and operator of MetroLink.  The change of grantee necessarily introduced a new cast of characters, and interrupted the coordination process. The subsequent planning and execution by BSDA and its new consultants needed to be very thorough and quick.

2. The Lesson
Every new-start rapid transit project can benefit by the experience of other properties and the PMOC in compiling the list of participating and affected agencies. This process should start during the alternatives analysis phase to ensure that all interested parties are contacted in time to identify their particular interests and to make known whatever limitations they need to impose on the process. Some of the limitations are procedural requirements that will impose time restraints. Other agencies/affected parties will have space restraints imposed by their facilities that need to be considered in the planning and design. Citizen groups will want to influence what the system looks and sounds like, and where it will relate to their neighborhoods.

The prudent grantee will contact and interview even more agencies and potentially affected parties than are on the active list of participants. This public participation process contributes to increased knowledge on the part of both the grantee and the other parties. The attached matrix indicates the parties and most of the interests that BSDA included in its PMP. Many more intersections could be marked of interest to the FTA's PMOC.

3. Applicability
Early and thorough agency coordination will apply to every rapid transit project and will be of great value to new-start projects.

4. References
MetroLink Project Management Plan b. FTA Program Guidance Circulars, especially C 5010.1A