Amid the growing concerns of COVID-19, PennDOT District 11 acted quickly to cancel the State Route 28 Highland Park Interchange Reconstruction Project public meeting just one week prior to the scheduled March 19, 2020 date. However, in lieu of the public meeting, the project information that was to be presented was made available electronically on PennDOT's website.
The final resources for the public to view online were an introduction video to explain the information and reason for canceling the in-person meeting, a presentation of the final designs of the project, a video rendering of the current and future configurations of the roadway, and a comment form for the public to submit feedback.
“I believe the public involvement was still very successful in spite of cancelling the scheduled public meeting at such short notice and providing the information electronically on our website for the public to view," Project Manager Erik Porter said. "This was a huge effort to cancel the meeting where we had to notify several hundred residents, legislatures, and municipalities, as well as get the message out to the general public and the news media."
"Additionally, we had to work diligently to get the project information onto the website in a timely fashion, all while teleworking away from the office," Porter added. "This could not have been possible without the extraordinary people in our office that pulled this together in such a short timeframe."
Analytics revealed that 289 individuals visited the page within the first week of the information being posted, with many more viewing the different resources and providing feedback through the comment form.
“Public involvement and outreach to obtain comments from the community on transportation projects has been progressing for years," Environmental Manager Mark Young said. "Expanding on the way we reach out to our customers through social media and other means continues to evolve. Although the COVID-19 crisis has been challenging in so many ways, we have been able to use the Highland Park Interchange project as an opportunity to improve the way we present information as well as receive feedback from the public."
The solution which District 11 arrived at affirms PennDOT's commitment to providing the highest level of customer service. All teams involved overcame unique and unforeseen challenges to provide a realistic solution to the current situation the commonwealth is facing today.