With construction season nearly upon us, our most recent deep dive webinar featured the timely topic of planning and implementing successful road construction projects. Speaker Brian DeNeve, communications director for Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Southeast Region, provided an overview of the design, planning and construction process, including pointers on strategies for incorporating local desires into the project and reducing the impacts of construction on local businesses. Jeff Gates, of Mosinee, and Wendy Gehlhoff, of Florence, provided insights from their own recent successful projects on potential funding sources and potential opportunities to use construction projects as a catalyst to better define a community’s brand and image. Some useful takeaways from the presentation included:
- Encourage community discussions on connectivity, safety and amenities now, rather than waiting for a project to come along. Existing plans demonstrate consensus and carry a lot of weight in the decision-making process.
- Onsite visits and discussions are important; schedule a community walk of the project area, and do the same with the project manager. This will ensure that decisions best reflect the reality of your community.
- Identify community champions for various aspects of the project (or of the community). Examples might include a business liaison, pedestrian/bike coordinator, accessibility lead, etc.
- Use the design period to explore options locally. Inventory the location and condition of amenities you already have (trees, benches, bike racks) and test out (with permission, bench, bike rack or crosswalk locations to see which are used most frequently.