Arcadis Jacobs commissioned Traverse to help them deliver pre-construction stakeholder engagement on behalf of Highways England, about the M4 J3-12 upgrade to a smart motorway A case study for the wider stakeholder engagement can be found here. This case study focuses on the set of Public Information Exhibitions (PIEs) that Traverse delivered as part of this work.
The PIEs and communication around them were a re-introduction to the scheme for the public and other stakeholders, intended to inform audiences of the smart motorway principles, purpose of the upgrade, expected benefits, construction timescale, and potential impacts.
The planning, materials and delivery of the PIEs required input from several different organisations: Highways England, the design stage contractor (Arcadis Jacobs), the construction contractor (BBV JV), and Traverse.
A collaborative PIE planning team with members from each organisation was created, to ensure that the right knowledge was involved, whilst retaining a close working dynamic. Traverse lead this team by creating and owning the project plan, updating it amongst a changing wider project context, organising and chairing regular planning meetings, and managing the delivery of all required outputs. These outputs included:
• Comprehensive stakeholder mapping
• Tailored VIP invites to 198 identified priority stakeholders
• A 12-page A5 leaflet produced and distributed to 8,000 households (available here)
• Advertising placed in local newspapers, and a press release resulting in newspaper, radio and TV coverage
• 14 display banners to communicate clear and accurate information at the exhibitions (available here)
• A 5 metre, table-top map of the full length of the scheme for visitors to discuss with project team at the exhibitions
• A 3D fly-through video of the full length of the scheme, and separate visualisations of key structures (available here)
Highways England ensure quality and accuracy of outputs with a multi-level approval process on all deliverables. Traverse liaised directly with project team members from each organisation to manage their input as experts into key materials, and to organise staffing and briefings for each exhibition.
The exhibitions were planned around the prioritised target audiences (local residents, local businesses, local community groups, local authorities and elected representatives), located in venues that would be accessible to impacted residents, and open at times that would suit a variety of different schedules.
Feedback and further queries about the scheme were captured via feedback forms at the exhibitions. Traverse coordinated the processing and reply to each of these, with input from all relevant experts within the project team
All six PIEs were delivered successfully, with an overall turnout of 1,140 visitors.
Alongside the traditional village-hall format, the team included a new style of exhibition during this series; a condensed, pop-up style exhibition in high-footfall areas (shopping centres near to the scheme) in order to raise awareness of the scheme and reach a far wider audience.
This was a successful approach, with high number of visitors who were engaged with the materials and the experts available. The visitors were often users of the M4, who do not live within close proximity of the planned works, and who had less or no awareness of the planned upgrade prior to their attendance. This format will now be carried forward by Highways England and included in the next series of PIEs as construction progresses.
Following the delivery of a test run exhibition, allowing both the wider design and construction team to comment as well as the Highways England Project Committee, Highways England recognised the work of Traverse and Arcadis Jacobs as best practice and tangible benefit to the scheme.