The Transportation Research Board held its annual meeting earlier this month in Washington DC. More than 11,000 people descended on the three hotels that host the series of discussions, workshops, poster sessions and committee meetings. In the broader transportation world, TRB’s annual meeting is the ultimate place to catch up with industry leaders and hear the latest in research trends and successful tactics.
For the transportation communicator, TRB’s annual meeting includes many important sessions, and one that I always enjoy is the 90 minutes dedicated to the winners of the “Communicating Concepts with John and Jane Q. Public” competition. The TRB Planning and Environment Group each year asks transportation organizations to nominate their best work at communicating a particular aspect of transportation to the public.
The 2013 competition theme focused on transportation modeling and simulation and five organizations were honored for their efforts. The top prize went to the Utah Department of Transportation for its effort to help the public understand an innovative intersection design that eliminates left turns in favor of “ThruTurns.”
According to Utah DOT’s Adan Carillo, the ThruTurn intersection in Draper, Utah, was a controversial solution to a congested and troubled commercial intersection near Interstate 15. The staff and its consultant created two instructional animation videos to help people understand how a ThruTurn intersection works and why it was considered a viable option for that particular location. A post construction video (see above) was created to help the public understand the decision-making process and to highlight overall benefits of the new intersection. (Also, check out this article on the cool technology used to make the Utah DOT video).
We often talk about choosing the right tool for the job. In some instances a new social media channel is an excellent way of reaching target audiences. Other times a traditional news release or public meeting is a great choice.
Clearly, though, the Utah DOT use of design visualization animation and video was an excellent combination of the right tool with the right message, and ultimately led to a successful implementation of an innovative intersection design.
By the way, others recognized in the John and Jane Q Public competition included:
- The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission for its use of an interactive travel time and house cost map during is recent long-range planning effort.
- Metrolinx of Ontario, Canada, which used a three-pronged approach to public engagement during its recent long-range planning effort. The “Big Move” included use of Conversation Kits, public round table meetings and an in-depth “Residents’ Reference Panel.”
- Parsons Brinckerhoff, working for the Washington State Department of Transportation, created a web-based tool that allows the public to see the project at key points in the schedule and to view detour routes and impacted areas from different angles.
- Sinclair Knight Merz for a tool that converts spacial software and modeling data into Good Earth software to increase public access to the raw data.
Congratulations and well done. These certainly were efforts worth of recognition.