The Importance of Community Engagement on Pavement Projects

Will Kratt, PE, PTOE
Transportation Business Unit Leader
January 17, 2019

When it comes to pavement projects and repaving roads, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. These roadways are often lined with residential homes and businesses, making minimal disruption to daily life very important. It is equally as important to making sure the project is on-budget, on-schedule, and to the quality the client expects. With the wrong project manager at the helm, this kind of project could throw a wrench in day-to-day life and travel for municipalities and their residents.

This hasn’t been the case for clients that have worked with ISG Project Manager Nick Frederiksen, who was recently recognized as the Consulting Engineer of the Year by the Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa (APAI). The award celebrates the consulting engineer “that has shown exemplary knowledge of asphalt construction in both design and construction of asphalt projects,” as described by the APAI.

“Nick truly understands and exemplifies what it means to be part of a team working toward the common goal of a successful project,” states Derek Johnson, PE, Vice President and leader of ISG’s Des Moines office. “ISG places an emphasis on open and direct communication with clients and contractors because it fuels effective and efficient projects of all kinds—especially for asphalt paving. These projects often happen nearby community homes, so that level of communication and responsiveness makes all the difference."

With this communication-driven approach, ISG has undertaken some key pavement projects, including the West Des Moines hot mix asphalt (HMA) resurfacing projects for which Nick won the award.

Traffic Rerouting

ISG worked directly with the City of West Des Moines to tackle resurfacing projects in 2017 and 2018, providing the plans, designs, construction documents, and the eventual implementation of the construction. The 2017 project included 7.7 lane miles of HMA resurfacing, and the 2018 project included 8.7 lane miles.

Like most roadway projects, handling traffic was the largest challenge for the City of West Des Moines. Providing resurfacing for cities requires thoughtful strategies for traffic control, staging, and phasing to ensure that people can get where they need to be without too much disruption. As most city staff and engineers will tell you, that’s always easier said than done.

“One of the biggest challenges is traffic control,” says Nick. “The City of West Des Moines has approximately 65,000 residents, which swells to more than 100,000 during business hours.”

With that many people on the move every day, the City of West Des Moines needed a clear plan of action to keep residents moving about their daily lives. Balancing the need to decrease interruptions with cost control is no easy task, as the team’s designers worked to find the sweet spot to reduce disruption and costs.


Open Communication

The project team and the City of West Des Moines achieved this through close communication throughout the process. Nick and the project team established an open line of communication from the get go with the City’s public works, engineering, and traffic departments. By engaging them in the process, the City was able to approve traffic control plans, staging, and phasing of the work.

That same culture of communication within the project team was extended to local business owners and residents. By coordinating with those who are adjacent to work areas or are affected by them, the design team was able to develop plans that worked for the community. The team visited residents, sent emails, and delivered newsletters that kept everyone in the know about upcoming work. The team also worked with the post office and waste collection services of the City to ensure continuity of service.

“They communicated their plans and answered any questions; and most of all, they did a great job. Best contractors I have ever dealt with, and we’ve lived in this home since 1978.” – City of West Des Moines Resident

Communication with the nearby Dowling Catholic High School was vital given the significant planning required when working around a school. The design team strategically planned staging and phasing of work with school representatives around the beginning of the year, end of the year, and key school activities to ensure a smooth construction schedule.

“The effort put in to work with us on coordinating this project was greatly appreciated. Every effort was made to work and ensure there was effective communication and transparency in the process.” – Matt Meendering, Principal, Dowling Catholic High School

Asphalt paving projects require a finely tuned thoughtfulness to keep all stakeholders’ expectations in line, and strong, organized project management is central to that. By keeping everyone informed and listening to the concerns of City staff and residents, these projects can move along as smoothly as the newly finished pavement.

Join the Conversation #ISGIngenuityatWork #ISGTransportation #ISGPublicWorks

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Will Kratt, PE, PTOE
Transportation Business Unit Leader
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Will Kratt, PE, PTOE

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