When it comes to managing Pennsylvania’s vast network of more than 120,000 miles of roads, both PennDOT and its local government partners know the stiff challenges they must overcome.
Increasingly, both of these entities are turning to the cooperative Agility program, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
One of the most compelling Agility success stories is the solid relationship that has developed between PennDOT’s Butler County operation and Cranberry Township.
“It’s one of the best programs that has been offered around the state for municipalities in general,” said Jason Dailey, Cranberry’s Utilities director and former Public Works director. “We have certainly had a really good experience with the program.”
Chris Robinson, roadway programs coordinator for PennDOT’s Butler County operation, applauded Cranberry Township for its involvement with Agility.
“They and Jason have been absolutely great to us and been a big help,” Robinson said. “We’ve actually received compliments from some of the other groups we’ve had meetings with on how we were able to make that happen. It’s been good for everybody.”
One innovative aspect of the Cranberry-PennDOT relationship is access to much- needed meeting space the township provided.
“We’ve always been creative with it,” Dailey noted of the Agility arrangements. “And that goes to the district being very open with it and very forward thinking as well and having a really good insight into how we can utilize this program.”
Added Robinson: “In their case, the meeting space isn’t really about us saving money, but having a resource available to us that wouldn’t otherwise be available, which is a good thing.”
Regarding Agility overall, Robinson noted, “There are always opportunities. You always look for things you can do easier than they can. And that is usually where you can find the sweet spot of where the savings are.”
Robinson cited how an Agility agreement helped increase winter service on U.S. Route 422 in Butler County. It was a spot not near any PennDOT stockpiles, and PennDOT worked out an arrangement to park one of its plows at a municipality’s stockpile.
“The first year we did that, we had phone calls praising us for the increase in service without us actually telling the community anything about it,” Robinson said. “So, it was a noticeable difference right off the bat. It is things like that. A little creativity and a little bit just talking about things, you’d be surprised what you can come up with.”
Dailey pointed to what he called PennDOT’s well-earned reputation for its expertise.
“Some of the program offerings, PennDOT is very well known for the high product quality it puts out for its single and double seal applications, and we have taken advantage of that program,” he said. “We’ve taken advantage of their line painting program. In trading for different things, the expertise that it brings, the high-quality product that a local municipality can take advantage of as part of this program. We always realized significant savings.
Dailey noted the simple bartering aspect of Agility.
“Essentially, the Agility program is a this for that,” he said. “One is providing one thing and you are getting a good quality product from PennDOT in return. This program really has been a big benefit for us in that fashion.”
Besides getting a quality service from PennDOT, cost-savings is another important benefit, Dailey said.
“If it’s not 50 percent savings, often times it’s pretty close to that, if not more” he said. “There’s a mutual benefit that’s being shared across between the two entities involved in the program.”
Dailey said Cranberry Township has aggressively checked the quality of the Agility services and it has always been excellent.
“And we’ve looked at the cost benefit and found it always pays to participate in a program like this,” he said.
Dailey said Agility inspires creativity on both sides of the transactions.
“The creativity you can bring to it, the flexibility the district offices have to make this program work for everyone, the opportunities are really endless,” he said. “If you can think it up, your district will work with you to work to make that happen.”
Dailey urges municipalities to take a good look at Agility participation.
“If you are a large municipality or a small community, this program has something to offer everyone,” he said. “It is really not just for a sophisticated community. This is a very achievable program than can be done whether you are a township, borough, or third-class city. This program is for everyone.” For more information about the program, visit the Agility page on PennDOT’s website.
This is the second in a series of articles celebrating the 25th Anniversary of PennDOT’s Agility Program. Read the first article in this series to learn about Agility's beginning.