By Regina Campbell,2014-09-26 09:38
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    The MBTA Design and Construction Department routinely has to deal with the public whenever a design or construction project causes impacts. The Project Manager needs to coordinate with the MassDOT Communications Department on all such projects. The following is the role of the MBTA’s CRD during design and/or construction projects, and

    how the Project Manager should coordinate with them.

    4.1 Introduction

It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to involve the MassDOT Communications

    Department (MassDOT CD) early during the initial design development stage, and to continue to work with MassDOT CD through until the end of construction.

    The MBTA’s Community Relations Department was created to centralize, coordinate, and streamline the public outreach efforts of all the MBTA’s Departments. MassDOT CD

    works in cooperation with all MBTA departments on all community relation initiatives. MassDOT CD is committed to building and maintaining a positive and lasting relationship with all communities and seeks to accomplish this through a concerted communication and outreach effort.

    The objective of the MassDOT CD is to develop a level of trust and accountability between the MBTA and impacted neighborhoods, our commuters, and their elected representatives. This proactive approach has proven to substantially reduce the number of abutter and passenger complaints and sets up a program to address concerns in a timely and informed manner.

The MBTA’s method of community involvement is more than just informing stakeholders

    and developing/fostering relationships; it includes maintaining a dialog and managing project developments to acknowledge stakeholder input and gain acceptance of the completed project. Consensus does not necessarily mean that all are 100% satisfied with the project results; it means stakeholders have worked together toward a project outcome that best achieves their individual goals.

    Organizationally, the Communications Department is held in a high standing within the MBTA's construction project hierarchy with the department reporting straight to the General Manager. MassDOT CD staff members have extensive project experience as well as strong communications skills. These MassDOT CD members become the bridge

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    between neighbors and engineers, translating the needs of each to the other and mediating inevitable disagreement. Almost any construction project can benefit from a well-planned and organized communication and coordination strategy. Commitment to the program by all levels of management is essential for its success.

    4.2 Agency Communication Channels

    The public outreach effort rests on utilizing multiple communication channels to distribute information to affected constituencies. The MBTA typically communicates to the general public through one or more of the following methods:

    ; Agency website

    ; Customer service lines

    ; Press releases, posters, flyers, and mailings

    ; Newspaper, radio, and television advertisements

    ; T-Alerts

    ; Signs and handouts available in vehicles and at stations

    ; Public meetings

    ; Information stands at local events.

    Some of these communication tools are geared specifically toward customers, while other methods are intended to reach community members at large.

    Public meetings are planned and publicized as early as possible, at least three weeks in advance. Early engagement allows the MassDOT CD to develop a public community-involvement process tailored to each individual project to allow full participation by all stakeholders. It is the responsibility of the MassDOT CD staff or the MBTA department charged with the coordination of the public meeting to ensure that the location is accessible to people with disabilities by providing appropriate room set-up, alternate formats of handouts, sign language interpreters, and assistive listening devices at meetings when requested. Notices of public hearings related to service changes are also available on the MBTA and MassDOT websites.

    In addition, all monthly MBTA Board of Directors meetings include time for public comment. This provides an open forum for individuals to present their concerns regarding transit construction, operations, and policies directly to the General Manager and Board.

    4.3 Outreach Program Objectives

    Outreach Program efforts are achieved through attendance at regular community meetings, creation of project websites, stakeholder database, as well as conducting regular project updates to elected officials. MassDOT CD Managers attend project meetings and work in cooperation with Construction Project Managers to make efforts to mitigate actions or events that may impact abutters or passenger service. Examples of

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    these impacts may include but not be limited to: weekend shutdowns, extensive construction noise, extended work hours, demolition, blasting, and changes in the path of travel (access) for transportation customers.

    4.4 Identification of Project Stakeholders

    The MBTA's Project Manager shall work closely with the MassDOT CD who is responsible for communicating and, to the extent possible, assisting in the mitigation efforts, regarding the impacts MBTA construction projects and other service oriented initiatives have on the public. Individuals can be described as project "stakeholders" if they are affected, either by their interest in or proximity to, a given project or initiative. Potential stakeholders include (but are not limited to):

     MBTA passengers

     Local residents

     Local businesses

     Neighborhood business associations

     Local officials, including elected officials, town and city officials, and emergency

    service providers

     Academic, religious, civic, and other non-government organizations and institutions

    4.5 Development of Individual Project Programs

Given the individual characteristics of the MBTA’s projects, the MassDOT CD will develop

    a suitable course of communication and outreach. Early involvement through the construction planning and design stages allows the MassDOT CD to assess the program scope for each individual project. Major projects, like the Green Line Extension or an upgrade of a Commuter Rail or Subway Line, are by definition going to have multiple stakeholders. The linear nature of these projects could impact as many as thousands of direct abutters, dozens of community interest groups, and affect numerous constituencies of both local and state officials. Other major projects such as multimodal transportation hubs, although limited to one project site, can have a far-reaching impact as service from these hubs extends well beyond the project limits. Smaller projects such as a rural bridge replacement may have minimal local impact or extended impacts.

    Stakeholders are often identified during the public process in the design phase. MassDOT CD support and participation during this phase is predicated on need and should follow the guidelines below:

     The MassDOT CD is involved with the early planning stages for all primary and

    secondary construction projects to determine the scope of its program and the

    resources required to be included in project contract documents.

     The MassDOT CD will be represented at internal design review meetings as

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    needed for all projects through Conceptual (15%), Preliminary (30%), and Final

    Design (60, 90, & 100%) phases. At a minimum, the CRD will provide input at the

    Preliminary (30%) and Final (60%) design phases.

     A member of the MassDOT CD will be advised of, and attend as needed, the

    Design Directorate's public meetings at 30%, 60%, 90% and 100% completion

    phases. CRD will work with the Design and Construction Directorate and

    Construction Project Manager to ensure that project stakeholder’s interests are

    identified and addressed through this phase of the public process.

    These MassDOT CD efforts during the design phase will help to ensure that the project is designed from the start with maximum awareness by the community while facilitating an open dialog for issues and concerns that may arise throughout the design process.

    4.6 Program Implementation

    Any construction project will affect the adjacent community in some way. Because of this, community stakeholders desire to voice their opinions and be kept informed regarding these impacts.

Construction Impacts and Abatement

    The noise, traffic, delays, and other impacts of construction may be more inconvenient at certain times of day; in some cases, for example, the MBTA may need to perform construction operations at night in order to minimize the extent of passenger service interruptions or delays to the public. Neighbors can accept disruption more easily when prepared in advance. In order to quickly inform affected neighbors about construction activities, the CRD develops a project specific database with the contact information of identified project stakeholders who wish to receive updates on projects.

Media Relations

MBTA construction projects can be targets of attention from the local news media. The

    Project Manager should always refer all media inquiries to the MBTA Public Affairs Department. Local newspapers in particular may spotlight alleged setbacks and controversy. The possibility of biased or inaccurate reporting necessitates cooperation and coordination with the MBTA's Public Affairs and Community Relations Department to ensure the proper dissemination of information that could be construed negatively.

Public Support

    Obtaining public acceptance and support for construction projects can present difficult challenges. The dialogue enabled through the efforts of the MassDOT CD meets this challenge by fostering cooperation between the MBTA and the community with an

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emphasis on mutually beneficial outcomes.

Construction Phasing

    The MassDOT CD construction phase programs are developed in cooperation with the construction project managers and include:

     Coordination and participation in the initial public meetings upon MBTA issuance of

    project notice to proceed. At this meeting the MBTA's contractor is introduced and

    the project scope, schedule, and potential impacts are reviewed. Construction

    project managers and MassDOT CD staff generally conduct these meetings.

    Support materials such as presentation boards, Power Point presentations, and

    project element mock-ups are provided by the project for these meetings.

     Attendance and / or hosting, as needed, of informational community meetings

    throughout the construction process. This will include attendance at neighborhood

    association meetings and MBTA-sponsored meetings to provide project updates

    and to inform stakeholders of substantive project impacts including (but not limited

    to) weekend shutdowns, anticipated extensive project noise, extended work hours,

    demolition, blasting, and changes in the path of travel / access points for MBTA


     Development of a multifunctional database to serve as a central repository of

    community information regarding the project. This is to be supported by access

    to updated project websites, frequent email updates, and project advisories.

     Development and dissemination of clear informational materials to project

    stakeholders to provide advance notification of service impacts and disruptive

    construction activities.

     Attendance of regular project meetings as necessary; project managers will

    inform the MassDOT CD of all substantive project impacts, scope changes, and

    service impacts.

     Coordination with project managers on all interaction with local administrative

    and elected officials.

     The MassDOT CD will be responsible for scheduling, planning, and implementing

    all project “groundbreaking” and “opening” events.

    4.7 Financial Support for Communication and Coordination Objectives

    In establishing force account budgets as described in Section 2.7.1(Conceptual Budget for soft cost force account) the Project Manager must include costs associated with

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potential community involvement issues.

    At a minimum, MBTA construction projects need to provide funding for:

     Notification of service interruptions, diversions, and other substantive project

    impacts. This item needs to fund advertisements in local papers, informational

    signage and project informational materials.

     Presentation materials necessary for conducting public forums on the project.

    These include presentation boards, models, etc. as determined in the project

    planning and design phase.

     Provision of accessible services for public meetings to include (upon request)

    sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, and materials in

    alternative formats.

     Provision by project consultants of presentation material in Power Point

    compatible format as needed for public forums.

     Language translation necessary to provide project information to impacted non-

    English speaking neighborhood groups.

     Incidentals necessary to support project groundbreakings and openings.


    The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s objective of customer service, consensus building, and promotion of positive relationships with project stakeholders pays dividends beyond the life of construction projects. The MBTA acts, after all, as a good neighbor by providing reliable public transportation to those with whom we have partnered during the construction process. Balancing the long-term positive of improved transportation services with temporary negative impacts of a construction project is a key principle behind community relation efforts.

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