Public involvement: Wisconsin IH 90/94 corridor study

Posted in: Highways

S_140804_N21We can all agree the success of many projects hinges on public involvement efforts. Connecting clients and owners with communities to establish true partnerships and build consensus on a project can make or break perceived success. The current Interstate Highway IH 90/94 Corridor Study demonstrates the value added by simply bringing stakeholders into the equation.

Mead & Hunt is leading a team of consultants and working with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the IH 90/94 corridor. The study covers a large territory and requires an in-depth look at the current operational and safety issues of the highway, review of the interchanges and ramps within the corridor, and evaluate expansion possibilities.

With a wide variety of stakeholders along the corridor, ranging from residents and farmers to local business owners and federal property managers, a comprehensive public involvement effort was needed. The project team went a step beyond general public meetings. To reach, inform and solicit information from all involved parties, our team assembled a Policy Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee.

TAC members have a technical background such as county highway commissioners who provide input about the design aspects of the project. The PAC members have a more “big picture” view of policy issues associated with the project. Members of the PAC include local officials and business owners.

Together, members of the TAC and PAC:

  • Help review and suggest refinements to the project’s study purpose.
  • Help improve communication between the study team and the organizations, boards, committees and constituents.
  • Provide advice concerning the most effective way to reach the public at public involvement meetings, including effective meeting times, meeting format and exhibits.
  • Help review and suggest refinements to alternative solutions.
  • Help review environmental analysis and documentation.

This approach to public involvement allows us to reach more people from varying backgrounds and disciplines so we can better understand the issues facing the corridor. We can better share the information we collected and prepared. The end result will be an environmental document that accurately documents the issues concerning the corridor and improvement alternatives addressing the geometric, traffic and safety deficiencies with the current system.

This approach to engage stakeholders may be applied to all types of projects. Gathering and analyzing information from all angles allows us to make more informed design decisions, improving the quality of our roadways while keeping the public safe during their travels.

Rusty Chesmore, PE

About the Author

Rusty Chesmore, P.E., has a strong background with high profile projects requiring extensive public involvement efforts. He welcomes public opinion on his projects, frequently working with outside organizations like historical societies and environmental bureaus to find the best possible solutions for his clients. In addition to his public involvement role, Rusty manages and provides quality assurance for transportation projects nationwide.

Read more posts by Rusty Chesmore, PE

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