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Engaging Communities in the Functional Planning and Geometric Design Process


The planning stage of a roadway project is the forerunner to the design and construction stages.
In various jurisdictions the planning stage can be broken down into several components including
General Location Planning, Preliminary Engineering Review, Detailed Functional Planning and
Detailed Location Reporting. Each component is vital to establishing the parameters that will be
used to design and eventually construct the project. As such, there has been a trend with
jurisdictions to involve stakeholders earlier and earlier in the life of a project to manage impacts,
risks and expectations. Many jurisdictions now require a comprehensive communications
strategy to be implemented to guide the input of stakeholders that have an interest in the
development and outcome of project requirements. The intent of early engagement is to
minimize the amount of potential rework and inherent delays and budget overruns that can
sometimes occur within the project lifecycle when the project objectives have not been properly
Many of the decisions related to a project occur during the planning stage of its life cycle. For
example, the route alignment, design criteria, initial right-of-way requirements, avoidance or
mitigation of environmentally sensitive lands, utility impact mitigation can be addressed at the
onset of the project to raise awareness and make adjustments where possible.
Tetra Tech EBA Inc. (Tetra Tech), has been involved in the planning of several important key
infrastructure projects for Western Canadian jurisdictions. The intent of these projects is to
improve key routes to economic growth areas through enhancedmobility and access. With most
infrastructure projects, the owning jurisdiction seeks to make improvements for the benefit of
the majority; however, there is always an inherent disadvantage to some, mostly in the minority,
when it comes to land loss and localized transportation impacts. Through collaborative
engagement of local stakeholders, Tetra Tech and their project partners have developed and
implemented effective communication strategies to involve key stakeholders from the onset of
a project.
Traditional planning exercises usually imposed the decisions made by technical parties, without
much consideration for the local stakeholder impacts. By taking advantage of the local
stakeholder knowledge of project areas and surrounding constraints, Tetra Tech has been able
to develop infrastructure options that seek to balance project impacts and objectives. This early
engagement has led to municipalities working alongside one another to meet project objectives,
rather than apart as had been the previous relationship. It has also led to municipal advocacy
towards stakeholders sharing their feedback and being heard, when previous opinions suggested
that all feedback would fall on deaf ears. The intent of this paper is to discuss project case studies
that involved local stakeholders in the decisionmaking process and the project advocacy that has
been observed subsequently.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Geometric Design – Lessons Learned: Linkages Between Design Standards and Road Safety
Steel, P.H.A.
Stobbs, T.
Geometric design