Public Engagement Strategies for ThoroughfaresPosted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 by Peggy Amor
In Transportation Engineering, tagged in Tags: public engagement, thoroughfares
For our public engagement series, we interviewed Affinis co-workers on strategies, best practices, and lessons learned. In our third and final installment, we’re sharing thoughts from Ryan Fleming, PE, ENV SP. Here, he offers insight into his work on large, thoroughfare projects.
How often do you work on large thoroughfare projects?
With whom do you typically engage on projects like this?
The audiences we engage with differ from project to project, but typically, we work with a combination of businesses and neighborhoods. In addition to civic leaders, we may work with nearby schools, home owners’ associations (HOA) and individual residents on a given project.
Which strategies do you use for getting the information out to stakeholders?
There are a number of strategies we use to inform stakeholders, but most of the time, we partner with cities and counties to host public meetings. There, we distribute FAQ sheets that answer routine questions. We also bring displays and plans that show the project. These meetings offer residents the opportunity to speak with those involved with the project directly.
That being said, the strategies we use are determined by our client’s needs, so they can vary widely. On one project, we conducted impromptu surveys at a local grocery store. In contrast, for another client, we provided a menu of options to residents at the public meeting, so they could prioritize amenities, like lighting, trails, and park benches, alongside cost together.
Is there something you wish you’d known about public engagement when you started? What have you learned?
I wish I had been aware of how clear you have to be with everything you say. Most community members do not have a full grasp on the ins and outs of road construction, so many of the concepts are difficult for them to understand. Being patient and listening to their concerns is so important. I’ve also learned to just present the facts. Anything more or less can be taken out of context. Providing clear, concise information is the best way to keep residents informed and leads to less confusion.
What do you think works best?
In my experience, one-on-one communication is best. It allows you to explain the project and its impacts in a way where less is left to interpretation.