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Inclusion: Community Engagement

What is community engagement?

WSDOT is developing and maintaining stakeholder relationships, both traditional and with under-represented, under-served communities. We're endeavoring to engage stakeholders before, during and after projects, and in general outreach. We are engaging stakeholders by (click through the tabs to discover):


Learning from Engagement Training

How do we measure learning from engagement training?

Through appropriate training, WSDOT is working to increase awareness and desire for employees to engage with the public. In a survey conducted after Community Engagement training, we asked employees if they feel prepared to conduct effective, inclusive community engagement.


Progress     Target    
August 2019
   
August 2020
60%  Arrow to right  80% Needs Improvement status icon
Needs Improvement

Why did we pick this target?

Between August 2017 and August 2019, a total of 93% of those surveyed after completing Community Engagement training answered “yes” (60%) or “somewhat” (34%) when asked if they felt prepared to conduct effective, inclusive community engagement. We believe focusing on raising the “yes” response gives us a better opportunity to grow as an agency as we learn from engagement training, develop ongoing relationships, ensure engagement opportunities and focus on developing trust. WSDOT employees receive community engagement training to improve their engagement skills. After receiving training many WSDOT workers felt they are prepared to conduct effective, inclusive community engagement.



Quantitative survey result

Source: WSDOT Communications & Engagement Planner Multimodal Planning Division


More about learning from engagement training

Why is community engagement training important?

When WSDOT employees are out in the community, they represent not only themselves, but also the agency. Ensuring we share consistent, helpful, accurate information on behalf of the agency is important if we want to engage community leaders and the public effectively. Community engagement training is important because it teaches tenets of who, when, how and why to engage. It also includes cultural competency and risk management. These tenets help to ensure we are aware of our audience’s perspective and can communicate with this perspective in mind. This helps develop and continue trusted relationships with those we serve. This helps to ensure early and ongoing community engagement, which ensures diverse viewpoints are considered. This enables better decision-making for WSDOT projects, plans and programs.

How are we doing?

WSDOT has created a training program consisting of training curriculum and materials. We’ve trained more than 40 staff as trainers to deliver the curriculum. Classes are ongoing. WSDOT has increased our emphasis on community engagement agency wide through efforts such as the Community Engagement Plan, the Community Engagement Training Program, our agency strategic plan, and emphasis from managers, executives and supervisors. WSDOT employees increasingly understand that it is everyone’s job to do community engagement. As we engage communities, our employees increasingly understand what is expected of them and what tools and methods are available.

What are we working on?

Trainers are in the process of conducting classes statewide. We have created an e-learning module, are scheduling classes, and preparing an executive-level training. We are developing a work plan for community engagement objectives so that employees understand the importance of developing connections, seek new ways to connect and include community perspectives in decisions. The Community Engagement Training Program is ongoing, and we will be updating the WSDOT Community Engagement Plan soon.

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Spotlight on developing ongoing relationships

Spotlight Spotlight on developing ongoing relationships

How do we measure developing ongoing relationships?

WSDOT is developing ongoing relationships with community groups to ensure the agency has a presence in local outreach opportunities. The agency is working to determine how to measure our success. A good example of developing ongoing relationships is the work done on the SR 409 - Columbia River Bridge at Puget Island - Deck Replacement and Painting project.

Puget Island Project overview

WSDOT is installing a new timber bridge deck and repainting the steel members of the SR 409 Julia Butler Hansen Bridge. This bridge is the only way for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians to get from Washington to Puget Island, which is home to approximately 900 people. A ferry operated by Wahkiakum County connects the island to Westport, Oregon. The bridge is a vital travel link for residents of the area, with large employment in Oregon and shopping and services in Washington. In order to replace the bridge deck on the narrow 20-feet wide truss spans, crews needed to fully close the bridge during the replacement of the deck panels. Construction began in 2018, and the project is scheduled for completion in 2021 at a cost of approximately $17.2 million.

SR 409 Julia Butler Hansen Bridge image
SR 409 Julia Butler Hansen Bridge
Open house for the new bridge deck and repaint of the bridge image
On Thursday, Feb. 23, 2019 more than 100 members of the community attended an open house to learn about work to install a new bridge deck and repaint the SR 409 Puget Island Bridge.
Narrow ped, bike access path on bridge image
Narrow ped/bike access path.
Pre construction ped, bike rail on bridge image
Pre-construction ped/bike rail.
Deteriorating timber bridge deck image
Portions of the timber bridge deck are deteriorating and in need of repair.

More about developing ongoing relationships

Why is it important to develop contacts?

Successful project development, design and construction are often contingent on building ongoing trusted relationships with agency partners and with people in the communities in which we serve. Understanding that the closure of the bridge would highly affect area residents, during the design phase of the project the project team established a stakeholder working group. The project office identified who should participate by talking to local leaders, the Chamber of Commerce and emergency service responders. The group not only helped shape the contract, they also helped deliver information about the project to area residents.

The project team learned that a large number of area residents walk and bike across the bridge, and asked if WSDOT would install a higher walkway rail as part of this project. While design work to include improved pedestrian and bike access took more time, the contract was delivered to meet the needs of the community, and with its support.
Early and ongoing relationship building helped to shape the final scope of this project and its delivery, as well as the relationships that will carry on long after project completion.

How are we doing?

WSDOT has increased our emphasis on community engagement agency wide. WSDOT employees increasingly understand that community engagement is part of everyone’s job. As we conduct formal and informal engagement, our employees further understand what is expected of them and what tools and methods are available.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is teaching staff to identify interested parties and how to capture and share the contacts once they have been identified. A work plan is being developed for how to compile lists of known contacts for use among agency staff. We are developing a work plan for community engagement objectives so that employees understand the importance of developing connections, seek new ways to connect and include diverse community perspectives in our decision making process.

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Ensuring engagement opportunities

How do we measure ensuring engagement opportunities?

WSDOT is working to ensure stakeholders have the opportunity to engage before, during and after a project. The agency is working to determine how to measure our success. One element of ensuring engagement opportunities is developing an event calendar. This measure is under development; check back in February 2020.


 
Under development Under Development status icon
Under Development

US 395 North Spokane Corridor and Children of the Sun Trail Placemaking Project meeting event calender
This event calendar example comes from the US 395 North Spokane Corridor and Children of the Sun Trail Placemaking Project. See more details on the project on the “Spotlight on developing trust with the community” tab of this dashboard.


US 395 North Spokane Corridor and Children of the Sun Trail community engagement events information site

More about ensuring engagement opportunities

Why is an event calendar important?

An event calendar will help us identify opportunities to engage at meetings that are already planned and organized. It will also let us coordinate our outreach efforts and potentially better use staff time. Community engagement is an integral part of the transportation decision-making process that ensures consideration of and benefit to community needs and preferences. Early and ongoing community engagement ensures diverse viewpoints are considered, which enables better decision-making. Diverse community input ensures transportation decisions are collaborative, which ensures decisions that work for communities and builds trust between public agencies and the communities they serve.

How are we doing?

We currently encourage staff to engage at events that are already planned and present to groups that already exist, but there is no centralized calendar. WSDOT has increased our emphasis on community engagement agencywide. WSDOT employees increasingly understand that it is everyone’s job to do community engagement. As we do formal and informal engagement, our employees increasingly understand what is expected of them and what tools and methods are available.

What are we working on?

We’re forming a work plan to better capture and share opportunities to engage with groups that already exist and/or at meetings that are already scheduled. We are developing a work plan for community engagement objectives so that employees understand the importance of developing connections, seek new ways to connect, and include community perspectives in decisions.

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Spotlight on developing trust with community groups

Spotlight status icon Spotlight on developing trust with community groups

WSDOT is working to develop trust with community groups. A good example of this is the US 395 North Spokane Corridor and Children of the Sun Trail Placemaking Project. WSDOT is engaging stakeholders to ensure projects align with community needs, blend diverse inputs, enhance understanding, improve participation, maximize creativity and innovation, avoid costly delays and provide outcomes of which we are collectively proud.

Image: A flyer adverstising a community engagement workshop.
A flyer advertising a community engagement workshop

Image: Illustration from the Children of the Sun Trail Preferred Route survey.
Illustration from the Children of the Sun Trail "Preferred Route" survey

Image of Stakeholders provide input, helping ensure the project aligns with community needs.
Image of Stakeholders provide input, helping ensure the project aligns with community needs.

Stakeholders provide input, helping ensure the project aligns with community needs.


More about spotlight on developing trust with community groups

Why is developing trust with community groups a priority?

When done well, community engagement helps to ensure projects align with community contexts, blends diverse inputs, enhances understanding, improves participation, maximizes creativity and innovation, avoids costly delays and provides the outcomes we collectively are proud of.

In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking brings arts, culture and creativity into government and community-led planning and community development efforts.

How are we doing?

WSDOT is engaging with five neighborhoods and other stakeholders to “create place” in and around the North Spokane Corridor (NSC). WSDOT is partnering with Eastern Washington University, the City of Spokane and other agency stakeholders to gather community input through "listening posts", charrettes, workshops and other events. The input has been used to shape the project, especially with ensuring the Children of the Sun Trail provides access to community "special places." The trail is a non-motorized companion route to the US 395 North Spokane Corridor. Over the past year, community volunteers (the NSC Collaboration Team) have reviewed and refined ideas. The outcome of this effort is a " preferred" route for the trail from Columbia Avenue (south of Francis) to the Spokane River. As the trail is further developed, WSDOT will continue collaboration with the Spokane Tribe, who provide the name of the trail to enhance it's cultural experience. To date, the placemaking effort has been a success, neighborhood representatives have emerged as "placemaking champions" and have committed to ongoing, continuous, meaningful and transparent engagement.

Upcoming events for this project can be found at: NSCPlace.com

What are we working on?

After more than 70 years of research, planning, legislation, and community engagement, the North Spokane Corridor, when complete, will be a regional multi-modal corridor. When completed by 2030, the corridor will improve mobility in metropolitan Spokane. The fully funded NSC, conceived in 1946, will provide a dedicated corridor for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and freight to connect to destinations south and north.

Ultimately, the NSC will provide both a 10.5-mile north-south limited access highway and a separated 10.5-mile non-motorized trail, named the Children of the Sun Trail. On the south end, the NSC will connect to I-90 in the vicinity west of the existing Thor/Freya interchange. On the north end, the NSC currently connects to US 2 at Farwell Road and US 395 at Wandermere. The NSC extends in and around over five neighborhoods with unique identities. The corridor will relieve local north-south streets by moving vehicles and freight traffic from the local network and presenting opportunities to develop community context along local streets (example: Complete Streets, commercial districts, etc.)

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