Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
Office of Operations 21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Public Outreach Practices

Slide 01: Public Outreach Practices: Lessons Learned from an Informal Survey

Jakia Torrence and Will Mallett

Battelle: The Business of Innovation

Slide 02: Introduction

  • We undertook an informal study of ~30 work zones around the country to discern good practices
  • Asked about situation of work zone
    • Duration, location, etc
  • Asked about public outreach related to travel (not outreach related to project itself)
  • Developing guidance document for FHWA
  • Today we'll share observations on best practices and lessons learned

Slide 03: A Plan is Best (see handouts)

  • Needs
  • Resources
  • Partners
  • Audiences
  • Message
  • Communication methods
  • Communication timing
  • Evaluation, including mid-course correction

Slide 04: Needs Are Different

  • Public outreach effort determined by scale and nature of project:
    • Facilities affected, duration
    • Amount of delay, anticipated safety problems
    • Special conditions such as heavy truck traffic, weather
    • Disruptions of other modes e.g. airport traffic
    • Evacuation/hazmat route
    • Number and location of emergency responders affected (hospitals, fire stations, military)
    • Number and location of businesses and residents affected
    • Number and location of planned special events affected

Slide 05: Do Your Homework

  • Information gathering
    • Agency sources
    • Analytical tools (e.g. QuickZone)
    • Survey of travelers
    • Community meetings
    • May be ongoing effort

Slide 06: Exploit a Wide Range of Resources

  • Diversity of resources
  • In-house expertise
  • Some contracted with public relations firm
  • Existing IT (e.g. website) and ITS (e.g. cameras, VMS)
  • Partners
    • Other state and local agencies, elected officials
    • Major employers
    • Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), business associations,
    • Neighborhood associations
    • Traveler information providers
    • Planned special events coordinators

Slide 07: There Are Many Audiences

  • Types of travelers
    • Pre-trip, enroute
    • Personal (commute, non-commute, long distance)
    • Commercial (local, long distance truck drivers)
  • Types of attractors
    • Major employers, malls, business districts, other modes, planned special events
  • Types of people
    • Residents, workers, small business owners, limited English, elderly, children

Slide 08: Variety of Messages

  • Safety first
    • Workers, motorists, others
  • How to minimize delay and frustration
    • Work zone details
    • Travel times and delays
    • Alternatives (mode, route, timing, destination)
  • We care
    • Public acceptance
    • Building trust
    • Relationship building

Slide 09: Many Methods of Communication

  • Project website
  • Email alerts
  • Web-connected traffic cameras
  • Direct mail (community contact letter, other materials)
  • Brochures/flyers/factsheets
  • Newsletter
  • Public meetings/workshops/events
  • Project model display with related information
  • Newspapers advertising and articles
  • TV advertising, articles, traffic spots
  • Radio advertising, articles, and traffic spots
  • Maps
  • Employee newsletters
  • Video
  • CB radio network (for truckers)
  • Information center or kiosk
  • Billboards
  • Project hotline
  • 511
  • Dynamic Message Signs (DMS)
  • Highway Advisory Radio (HAR)
  • Personal contacts
  • Press kit
  • Business survival kit
  • Branding

Slide 10: Examples of Communication Methods

  • Website - (e.g. Katy Freeway
    • Cameras
    • Email alert
  • Printed flyers, brochures, newsletters (see handouts)
  • Dynamic Message Signs (e.g. Central Arkansas)
  • Mass media
    • Free ("earned media") (e.g. I-64 in Louisville, KY)
    • Paid Advertising (e.g. I-64 again, Upgrade I-74 in Peoria)
    • Press kit (Upgrade I-74 again)

Slide 11: Communication Methods (continued)

Slide 12: What Did the Public Notice? (California DOT's Central Freeway Replacement Project)

bar graph of survey results
Image Details

Slide 13: Timing is Everything

  • Before
    • General details, where to go for information
  • During
    • Specific details, timing important
  • After
    • Project is completed!

Slide 14: Lessons Learned

  • Plan early and often
  • Spending on outreach not frivolous
  • Partners are important
  • Define your audiences
  • Define messages
  • Use variety of methods
  • Communicate before, during, and after
  • Evaluate effectiveness