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Hubert Dürrstein1

1 Consultant with Dendron AG, Bündenweg 23, CH-3286 Muntelier, Switzerland.


In the mountainous region of Vitznau, Central Switzerland, three opening-up alternatives:

· opening up by roads,
· mountain railways and ropeways combined with branch roads,
· a combination of alternative 1 and 2

are evaluated and compared taking into consideration economic, technical and environmental concerns.

The following aspects were mainly taken into account:

· fulfilling the demands of mobility of the local population to guarantee the existence of agriculture,

· preservation of protection forests,

· impact of opening up on landscape and environment,

· realistic costs of construction, running and maintenance.

In addition, all relevant interests and needs must be addressed according to their importance. For that reason the parties concerned (agriculture, forestry, tourism and nature conservation) were invited to participate directly in the decision procedure.

An appropriate method for considering different needs, risks and effects is the cost-efficiency analysis. This method was chosen because

· it can be used in a simple and transparent way (a precondition to be able to integrate concerns of individuals with differences in education, knowledge, toleration, etc.);

· the influence of the investment costs remains distinguishable until the end of the evaluation. were:

The most important elements allowing all sides to accept the decision-making procedure

· an extensive goal system with 39 criteria, which were structured according to their relationship to needs, risks or effects,

· the weighting of the criteria by the parties concerned (for these 15 representatives of the interest groups were invited to a one-day workshop),

· a logical selection of the most recommendable opening-up alternative.

The experiences of this project can be summarized as follows:

· to gain satisfactory compromises and solutions the parties concerned must be participate directly in the decision-making procedure; for this, simple and understandable methods must be available;

· results worked out exclusively by specialists run into more and more opposition and the realization of such projects, which are very important for the economic and ecological development of the regions and individuals concerned, becomes doubtful.

Keywords: Road planning, public participation, cost-efficiency analysis.


In the forestry sector of Central Europe, the demands on road planning procedures and results have changed basically. In former times the planning was primarily an internal task and the knowledge about construction allowed the realization of even the most difficult projects. Since the 1980s pressure groups require an increasing degree of participation and today there is hardly a chance to realize any project without integrating the parties concerned. However, the problem is to find generally accepted methods which

· permit consideration of all relevant interests and needs,
· can be used in a simple and transparent way.

The opening up of the mountainous region of Vitznau, Central Switzerland, makes evident the above-mentioned situation. The most important steps of this development, which have taken nearly ten years and for which finally a satisfactory solution could be found, can be summarized as follows:

· 1986 - planning of an opening up concept by the forest service (without participation of non-forest pressure groups).

· The cantonal commission for nature conservation was opposing the proposed alignment.

· 1989 - working out of an expertise, which included the aspects of nature conservation for different opening-up alternatives by roads.

· The representatives of nature conservation criticized the fact that opening up by the existing mountain railways and ropeways, combined with branch roads, had not been taken into account sufficiently.

· 1991/1992 - additional branch road concepts were worked out.

· It was concluded that, in order to complete definitively this long planning procedure, which gave rise to increased criticism, only an all-side accepted method for finding the optimal opening up alternative could achieve success.

The task was to evaluate the following opening-up alternatives:

1. opening up by roads (variant A)
2. mountain railways and ropeways with branch roads (variant B1)
3. combination of alternatives 1 and 2 (variant B2)

and to compare them to the status quo (variant C) by considering the economic, technical and environmental aspects and by including all interests and needs.


In order to consider all the relevant interests, the following aspects were mainly taken into account

· fulfilling the demands of mobility of the local population to guarantee the existence of agriculture,

· preservation of the protection forests,

· impact of opening up on landscape and environment,

· and, as regards investments, realistic costs for construction, running and maintenance.

These criteria differ in the rate of assessment (quantity and quality) as in their importance for the parties concerned. Therefore, on the one hand, only methods like the goal-achievement analysis or the cost-efficiency analysis come into question, which allow integration of criteria with different units of measure and different weighting of the criteria. But, on the other hand, these methods seem very complicated and, for that reason, are hardly suitable for a useful application. The consequences are doubts and lack of acceptance.

Therefore, an adequate solution had to be found to overcome the discrepancy between scientific and the practical demands.

The principal decision for a method was taken in favour of the cost-efficiency analysis because this method allows to:

· abandon the integration of the investment costs into the weighting procedure, which would be more favourable regarding the participation of all parties concerned (overweight of the costs as against the benefits and effects),

· keep investment costs distinguishable until the end of the evaluation.

As shown in the flow chart in Figure 1 the cost-efficiency analysis normally includes ten working steps, which can be grouped in four fields of activities:

1. Preliminary work with

· definition of the needs
· proposal of the opening up alternatives
· selection of the effects and risks

2. The weighting procedure

3. Computations

· calculation of the value per criteria and opening-up variant

· transformation of these values in order to be able to compare different measured economic, technical and socio-economic criteria

· calculation of efficiency for each opening-up variant

· calculation of the cost-efficiency factor

4. Ranking of the opening up alternatives

For the parties concerned it is above all important to be able to participate in the concluding steps of the decision-making procedure (fields I and II) and, in that way, individual differences as to education, knowledge, and toleration are considered as far as possible. In addition, pressure groups are interested in selecting the most recommendable opening-up alternative in a logical way (field IV).

The complicated computations in the background (field III) are more or less accepted. Therefore, it is recommended to give up detailed expositions and to treat this scope like a black box, which works with standardized computing routines.

Figure 1. Flow chart of the cost-efficiency analysis

1. Preliminary work

First, as a basis for planning the opening-up variants, the needs had to be found. At last the following main requirements could be defined and taken into account within the planning procedure:

· safety (protection from natural danger)
· mobility
· guarantee of service (like medical security)
· accessibility for forestry and agriculture
· nature conservation

Road planning generates positive and negative consequences. Which risks and effects must be considered under given conditions, should be determined by specialists and harmonized with the ideas of the parties concerned. During the decision-making for the Vitznau area, this process was combined with the evaluation of all aspects, which should be considered in a detailed goal system. The representatives of the pressure groups were asked, in due time before the weighting was planned, to express their opinion concerning the proposed evaluation criteria, which were described extensively. Finally 39 criteria were considered and integrated in an adequate goal system (Figure 2).

Because of methodical requirements the structure of the goal system was fixed from the beginning with:

· the principal partition in efficiency and costs, the main elements of the cost-efficiency analysis (layer 1);

· the logical order of the efficiency in the three fields of needs, risks and effects (layer 2);

· the general defined criteria, which have to be considered (layer 3) but which cannot be measured or estimated yet;

· layer 4, which contains the measurable criteria.

2. Weighting

The main point of public participation is the weighting of the criteria including all parties concerned. In our case we have invited a very heterogeneous group of 15 representatives of

· farmers,

· forest owners,

· private organizations of nature conservation,

· diverse boards (like hunting and fishing, forestry, agriculture, environmental protection, land use planning, landscape protection).

Based on our experiences the following procedures stood the test:

· presentation of the situation and choice of the weighting procedure,

· presentation of the purpose of the weighting, which individually allows the estimation of

- the most important needs,
- the highest risk,
- the most favourable needs,

· preparation of very detailed documents, which allow the participants to follow the weighting of the different criteria because of their clearly arranged structure

· stepwise weighting from level to level to point out the characteristics of the criteria, to avoid time-consuming manual calculations and to work with all the participants always at the same level.

Figure 2. Goal system

Figure 3 sets an example of how the weights on the different levels (= level weights) are determined including two or three criteria. In principle, two criteria are compared and one criterion, which is estimated as more favourable, gets more of the available hundred points. Regarding only two criteria (like on level 2) it is very simple to divide the hundred points. With three criteria, a correct result, based on the comparison of two aspects, can be achieved by the comparison by pairs, adding up the figures per line and calculating the percentage of the total value.

Figure 3. Weighting method

Following this method, all the participants could finish the weighting in a one-day workshop in spite of a very extensive goal system.

3. Calculations

This step is not part of the participation but used to

· compute and transform the measurement results per criteria

· to calculate the definitive weight per criteria on level 4 (by taking into account the previous level weights)

· to combine the weights with the transformed measurement results to achieve at first the efficiency per criteria and by adding up these single values the efficiency per opening up variant, which serves as base for the final ranking

Standardized computer programmes, like e.g. Excel, are appropriate for these calculations.

4. Ranking of the opening-up alternatives

As a result of the calculations, the efficiency per opening up variant and per weighting alternative (of the 15 representatives of the parties concerned) is available. After summing up these individual efficiency values per opening-up variant, the total values show which variant achieves the best efficiency regarding all criteria with their variable weighting.

Figure 4 shows the total values of efficiency. The opening up variants A and B2 obtain more than 1500 points with an insignificant difference. Compared to them, the status quo (variant C) has clearly less points and variant B1 is the less favourable of both branch road alternatives. That is why the variants B1 and C were eliminated and the calculation of the cost-efficiency analysis could be confined to two variants (A, B2).

Figure 4. Total value of the efficiency per opening-up variant

The costs per year (construction, running, maintenance) for the remaining opening up alternative are

· Variant A:

» US$ 400 000

· Variant B2:

» US$ 250 000

Because of this difference of investments, variant B2 achieves, without exception, the more favourable cost-efficiency factor. This results, by less or equal expenses, in more efficiency relating to all evaluation criteria and their weighting (Figure 5). In addition, the steadiness of the result should be emphasized and this in spite of the variable weighting with a strong polarization.

Figure 5. Comparison of opening-up variants A and B2 based on cost-efficiency factors

Final remarks

The main remarks by the participants concerning the procedure can be summarized as follows:

· The integration of all parties concerned and the transparency of the process (including the early but logical elimination of variants B1 and C) were judged positively.

· Concern was expressed regarding the strong polarization, which is caused by the structure of the goal system.

This structure of the goal system with the main division in needs, risks and effects was chosen to guarantee that all demands of the parties concerned were included. However, the polarization inherent to the structure of the goal system, did not cause any problems with regard to interpretation. This is illustrated by the above-mentioned steadiness of the result. The quality of the result can be additionally confirmed by comparing the fulfilment of the different demands. Figure 6 shows that only opening-up variant B2 is balanced because it

· satisfies the needs,
· limits the risks,
· achieves the effects.

Figure 6. Comparison of the transformed values

Variant A is more favourable with regard to the needs and effects, but only accepting a high risk. The status quo (variant C) creates fewer risks, but cannot be satisfactory as to the advantages of an adapted opening up.

Therefore, regarding the realization of the opening it was recommended

By considering the chosen conditions (namely opening-up variants, goal system and weighting) variant B2 is the most favourable one compared to variants A, B1 and C.

In the meantime the first steps for the realization of variant B2 have been started.


Dendron, A.G. 1992. Stichstrassenobjekt zur Erschliessung des Vitznauer Berggebiets.

Dendron, A.G. 1993. Sicherheitsplanung zum Vitznauer Berggebiet.

Hahn, P. & Näf, B. 1986. Generelles Wegnetz über die Basiserschliessung des Vitznauer Berggebiets - Technischer Bericht.

Heinimann, H.R. 1993a. Vorlesungsmanuskript zur Erschliessungsplanung.

Heinimann, H.R. 1993b. Kursunterlagen zur Weiterbildung an der Eidg. Forstdirektion.

Kuonen, V. 1989. Gutachten zur Erschliessung des Vitznauer Berggebiets.

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