Transportation design and construction firms and public agencies from Hawaii to New York were recognized for “excellence in community relations and public education” during the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) 2010 Pride Awards ceremony, held May 25 in the Nation’s Capital during the association’s Federal Issues Program.
Established by the ARTBA board of directors in October 1999, the Pride Awards honor outstanding programs that enhance the image of the transportation design and construction industry. An independent panel of public relations professionals and journalists reviewed nominations and selected winners.
Awards were presented in the following categories:
• Community Relations: Honors programs and activities which demonstrate positive involvement with the community in which a public agency, firm or association is located.
• Public-Media Relations/Education: Recognizes programs and activities that educate the public and opinion leaders about the significant contributions the industry make to the economy and/or quality of life.
Community Relations: Private Sector
• First Place: Stacy and Witbeck Inc., & Kiewit Western Co. “UTA West Valley TRAX Light Rail Project”
Building a new 5 mi. (8 km) transit line near Salt Lake City that impacts established neighborhoods and businesses is no easy task. But, Stacy and Witbeck and Kiewit Western, a joint venture contractor for the Utah Transit Authority on the West Valley TRAX line, was able to earn strong public support for it because of a well-executed, $500,000 outreach plan. It included having face-to-face meetings with residents and business owners to educate them about the project before it launched, distributing flyer and e-mail notifications in advance of major construction activity, establishing a 24-hour telephone hotline to field questions, and hosting a regular series of events such as the “Construction Snow Cone Safety Party” to keep the community updated on the project’s progress.
• Second Place: O.C. Jones & Sons “TLC for Kids Ballparks Program”
Due to a local construction company with a long-history and a big heart, a little league field in San Jose, Calif., was fully renovated for free. O.C. Jones and Sons Inc. partnered with KNBR 680/1050 AM Radio to hold a contest called “TLC for Kids Ballparks Program” to select a substandard park for renovation. The donated work included complete removal and reconstruction of the existing field, new irrigation, sod, infield and associated work. O.C. Jones & Sons also addressed the needs of dugouts, fences, bleachers and repaired an adjacent, unused lot for a warm-up and practice area. The Eastridge Little League Field was selected the winner and more than 240 children from ages four to 18 will be able to play softball and baseball there during 2010.
• Third Place (Tie): Stacy and Witbeck Inc., Granite Construction and Wildish Construction “South Corridor Constructors (SCC) — Education Outreach”
Dedicated to education and community outreach, the team implemented a construction education program for Clinton Kelly Elementary School in Portland, Ore. It spanned 15-months and included a series of workshops and presentations on heavy civil construction practices and careers hosted by SCC representatives. SCC also donated materials and labor to build the school’s new playground. The students were provided a detailed schedule so they could better understand the construction process. The process of building the playground and the finished product were tools to help the students gain a deeper appreciation of the industry’s contributions to society.
• Third Place (Tie): Tilcon New York Inc. “Tilcon’s Community Relations Program”
Tilcon New York Inc., a division of Oldcastle Materials, has made community relations a key part of its corporate culture, and aims to educate the public about the industry and the company. Tilcon donated significant financial and materials to local causes such as youth sports teams and area fire and rescue squads. The company also hosted an open house tour for nearly 3,000 people that included plant tours, equipment, engineering and environmental displays, and information about the importance of mine reclamation and how mine products are used in everyday life.
Community Relations: Public Sector
• First Place: Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) “Access Utah County”
UDOT’s Access Utah County team, which included HDR Engineering, simultaneously managed six distinct design-build projects with a $600-million combined construction budget to vastly improve traffic mobility in Utah County.
The agency’s community outreach team created and executed county-wide strategic communication plan to educate the public about the efforts to improve the roadway infrastructure and also developed public involvement strategies for each individual project. Tactics included: developing project Web sites, use of interactive electronic maps and animations to show construction work, distributing e-mail notifications, conducting door-to-door canvassing, and hosting individual and public stakeholder meetings before major road closures or other construction activities.
Surveys showed strong public understanding of the project’s vision and progress as a result of the UDOT’s outreach, and more than 95 percent said that they understood the importance of the project to the community and the major construction impacts were worth it.
• Second Place: Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) “Cell Phones for Soldiers Campaign”
As an extension of its efforts to appropriately dispose of outdated agency cell phones, MDOT launched a statewide initiative to increase participation in the “National Cell Phones for Soldiers” — a program that recycles and resells donated cell phones and uses the profits to purchase 60-minute calling cards for military personnel overseas. The agency made it convenient for residents to recycle phones by developing and placing distinctive drop-boxes statewide. In partnership with other state agencies and schools, MDOT produced and placed public service announcements, designed and distributed distinctive giveaways produced and placed public service announcements, designed and distributed distinctive giveaways imprinted with drop-box locations, and placed signage to increase awareness of the drop-box locations. The result: more than 4,000 cell phones have been collected since November 2008.
Public-Media Relations/Education: Public Sector
• First Place: Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), PB Americas “Statewide Storm Water Management Program”
Storm water runoff can have an adverse impact on waters surrounding urban areas — especially when that area is the state of Hawaii. The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), in partnership with PB Americas, developed and implemented a comprehensive program to educate the general public about ways to keep the state’s water clean. Over four years, PB Americas conducted 140 training sessions for more than 5,000 HDOT employees, contractors and consultants about sustainable construction and design practices. The group also produced a “Stick it to Storm Water Pollution” sticker book that was distributed to 80,000 elementary school children, while television and radio public service announcements reached an audience of more than one million.
• Second Place: Louisiana TIMED Managers, Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LADOTD) “Huey P. Long Widening Project Public Relations Plan”
Widening the 75-year old Huey P. Long Bridge, one of the three main Mississippi River crossings in the New Orleans-area, with some 50,000 daily crossings, is a mammoth public infrastructure project. Under the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED), LADOTD initiated an awareness program to educate elected officials, the public, and area businesses about the impacts — and benefits — of the bridge project.
The campaign relied on both traditional and social media programs to communicate with key audiences, and hosted a series of 20 public meetings to connect with 1,900 members of the public. It also featured a series of special events for the public, and bridge and construction/engineering career education programs with 2,000 local students.
Overall, the TIMED Managers posted more than 800 photos on the project Web site which received more than 1,700 visits per month, collected some 600 Twitter and Facebook connections, and conducted nearly 40 media interviews.