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Freeway Interchange Planning: A Public Involvement Success Story


For planning of major transportation projects, technical analysis is important, however public
engagement is playing an increasingly critical role in the development and acceptance of
technically complex transportation infrastructure.
Over the past two years, the City of Edmonton has completed a freeway interchange planning
project for Yellowhead Trail using a collaborative approach with area stakeholders. This
approach stemmed from a desire to develop a technically feasible conceptual plan while
building understanding and support from area stakeholders.
The bulk of the planning study was completed by in-house City staff. To aid in some of the
more technically complex aspects of the planning study, the City retained the services of a
consultant to advise the team through the technical details of developing and refining
interchange options. Additionally, a public involvement consultant was retained to support
public engagement and communication aspects of this project.
The study area is currently fully developed and most interchange configurations have the
potential to impact numerous operating businesses. The project team designed a program to
allow area stakeholders to participate during the development, refinement, and selection stages
of the interchange planning process. This approach was used as a means of reducing potential
public and political backlash that may result from large, transformative projects.
Throughout the study, the project team worked with a group of area stakeholders assembled to
provide the City with input to aid in decision making processes. Over a series of workshops, the
stakeholder group was educated regarding interchange planning, discussed site-specific issues,
developed and reviewed options, prepared evaluation criteria, and assisted the City in refining
and narrowing down options.
The process successfully solicited input from stakeholders and ultimately resulted in
understanding and general agreement with the recommended option. A unique solution was
arrived at for the area which balances the needs of the City with the needs of area stakeholders.
This solution may not have been selected through a traditional planning process.
The public engagement process utilized in this planning study has provided insight and valuable
lessons learned that will be implemented in future studies to enhance public engagement.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Best Practices in Urban Transportation Planning (B)
Lazurko, N.
Gibbard, R.
Transportation planning