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Planning Process for Road and Rail Infrastructure Projects 


The chapter presents an overview of the infrastructure planning process in the Nordic countries. Process stages have been named to accommodate eventual differences between countries.


3.1 Planning Process Description

Planning of roads and railways is a stepwise process where the levels of accuracy and detail increase as the planning proceeds.

Figure 3.7 illustrates an approximation of the process of road and railway planning in Finland, Sweden and in Norway. The planning process stages are feasibility study, design consisting of preliminary engineering planning and final engineering planning, construction and operation & maintenance. The plans are coordinated with the land use planning. The engineering plans are approved by formal approval decisions.Planning of roads and railways is a stepwise process where the levels of accuracy and detail increase as the planning proceeds.

Figure 3.7 illustrates an approximation of the process of road and railway planning in Finland, Sweden and in Norway. The planning process stages are feasibility study, design consisting of preliminary engineering planning and final engineering planning, construction and operation & maintenance. The plans are coordinated with the land use planning. The engineering plans are approved by formal approval decisions.

The impacts of the project are assessed in all planning phases when alternatives are being decided upon, compared and chosen. When the potential negative environmental impacts of a road/rail construction project are at significant level and extent, an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) is done. LCA can be used for assessment of impacts in each planning phase as well as operation and maintenance. 

 
Figure 3.7 Approximation of the planning process of road/railway in Finland, Sweden and in Norway.

At the feasibility study -stage the necessity and the timing of the project are the main questions to consider. Moving into the design phase, at the preliminary engineering planning the approximate location of the road/railway corridor is examined. The final engineering planning phase determines the precise location of the road or the railway, areas required for the road or the railway, intersections, solutions for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and public transport, other detailed solutions such as measures necessary to the prevention of negative traffic impacts and the cost estimate of the road or railway. After design is complete, the construction phase starts and covers the drafting of the documents that are required for construction of the road or the railway. The plan is usually done by the contractor and during the phase the actual construction materials and products, working methods and working order are decided.


3.2. Decision Makin in Road Planning Process

The principles that are chosen for planning of a road/rail project have a big influence on the potential impacts of the project. To give a concrete example, if the principle decision is that the road will have interchanges instead of level intersections, there will be significant impacts on right of way and the need for bridges. The planning principles are formally approved in the preliminary engineering planning phase and in the final engineering planning phase (see Figure 3.1, “Approval decision”). Planning principles that are formally approved in the preliminary engineering plan are usually no longer subject to change through objections or appeals in the final engineering planning phase. The formality of the planning process must be taken into consideration when assessing the impacts of a road/rail construction process. 

The outcome of a feasibility plan is project goal setting, evaluation of alternatives, preliminary impact assessment and cost estimation.

At preliminary engineering planning the following principles/solutions are processed/approved:

  • approximate location of the road/railway 
  • general traffic and road engineering and landscaping solutions including: 
    • number of lanes, 
    • principles of connections to road network (intersections/interchanges), 
    • road dimensioning speed, 
    • principles of organizing local traffic and walking and cycling 
    • principles of landscaping and green areas 
    • bridges (length, width, underpass height)
  • principles of prevention of negative impacts on the environment (see section 3.3)
  • preliminary estimate of costs and division of costs (if available)
At final engineering planning the following principles/solutions are processed/approved:
  • precise road/railway area (right of way)
  • detailed traffic and road/rail engineering and landscaping solutions
    • specific location, alignment and elevation of the road 
    • typical cross section (lanes, shoulders, slopes) 
    • technical cross-section, pavement
    • drainage solutions
    • road gear and road equipment
    • bridges
    • tunnels
  • solutions of prevention of negative impacts on the environment (noise and groundwater protection solutions)
  • estimate of costs and division of costs

During construction, the actual materials, products, working methods and working order are decided by the contractor according to the requirements that are set by the customer of the construction project.

During operation and maintenance, the materials, products, working methods and working order of operation and maintenance are decided by the contractor according to the requirements that are set by the customer of the works. The level of maintenance is decided by the road/rail owners and it is dependent on the importance of the road/rail connection and traffic, amongst other things.



​Figure 3.3 Determination and accumulation of costs and GHG-balance, traffic costs and effects not included

 

The aim of Figure 3.3 is to illustrate at which phase the most important decisions are made that have an influence on GHG-emissions and at which phase the GHG-emissions accumulate. The GHG emissions of traffic are not shown.


3.3 Using LCA in Road and Railway Planning 


Example: Use of Lca in the Planning Process

During the preliminary engineering planning, LCA is used to calculate the GHG emissions and compare impact of different choices of alignment of the infrastructure. In tools used in the Nordics, there are standard measures which describes the normal workflow in a measure, for example, material and energy used per kilometer of a concrete tunnel, and a standard number for the GHG emission of that measure. In this phase, approximate amounts of bridges, tunnels and road or rail construction methods are calculated for each alignment and the amounts are used in the tool with the standard measure data. The results from the calculations is one basis of many to consider when deciding upon an alignment.

In the next phase, the final engineering planning phase where the alignment has been chosen, the tool is used in two ways: 

  • to evaluate different technical construction solutions
  • to calculate a total amount of emissions and energy use for the whole infrastructure (not including traffic) as it gets more and more precise.

The first calculation of the whole chosen alignment is considered the baseline for the project. From the result of the baseline calculation, there are requirements from the NRA to reduce the GHG emission by a specific percentage. As the calculations proceed, the standard measures are changed for more specific data on amounts and sizes, according to the specifics found in the early civil engineering, but still there are not any specific data on materials, i.e. EPD-data. The calculation is hence more specific than in the former phase, but still quite unspecific as there are no specific suppliers of materials yet. As the project proceeds, it gets more and more detailed. In the implementation phase (which also includes the structural design phase and selection of construction materials), the calculations follow the same pattern as described above. The final calculation gives input to the procurement process, where it sets the baseline on climate emissions requirements for the contractor to follow and reduce.

After procurement, the contractor supplies update the model with specific material data and completes the calculations.

It is important to mention that the above example is not without limitations in data availability and the need to make assumptions that would ideally be covered by specific data.


Oprettet
15-05-2020.
Senest opdateret
02-11-2020.