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demolished and the new structures were rolled into place. It created a much safer environment for everyone and allowed the work to be completed as quickly as practical. “We recognized the challenges and risks to the traveling public in performing construction over an active roadway, which is why the decision was made to choose the alternative option of building the su- perstructure completely off-line and away from traffic. Using SPMTs allowed us to build the superstructure bridge decks, bridge abutments and lightweight approaches away from traffic,” said Brian Hartness, who served as Cianbro’s second superintendent during the weekend bridge move. A significant public information and outreach campaign was imple - mented to advise the public of the planned closure, strongly encourag- ing motorists to avoid the area during the interstate closure, and to share the benefits of accelerated bridge construction. These factors were critical to successfully managing traffic and informing the public of the benefits of the project approach. We had many in-person meetings and workshops with the public and project stakeholders before the pandemic. During the pandemic, when the project went out to bid and then into construction, we relied on virtual public involvement to maintain our policy of transparency and open communication. We found it to be more effective, efficient, and far-reaching than traditional communication channels. Leading up to this project, our virtual public involvement process consisted of pre-recorded presentations played on-demand with public comments collected and responded to as they were received. For this
project, we implemented MaineDOT’s first virtual podium meeting. Through this process, we provided a live presentation online. Offer - ing the meeting online gave constituents the opportunity to attend and participate from wherever they were. Following the live presentation, the meeting attendees were invited to type questions or comments in a chat box; those questions were then answered in real-time by project team members. The benefits were significant: • We engaged a larger, broader audience. • We were able to correct misconceptions instantly, as would be done at an in-person meeting. • We made the recorded meeting available on-demand for those who could not attend the live meeting. The success we experienced with virtual public involvement on the Veranda Street Bridge Replacement Project reaffirms MaineDOT’s in - tentions to move forward with virtual public engagement as a standard practice in the future. Earning the public’s trust Implementing accelerated bridge construction for the Veranda Street Bridge Replacement Project resulted in a new, lower maintenance bridge delivered in record time and with broad public support. The successful delivery of this project allowed MaineDOT to build public trust and further position our DOT as a progressive, innovative agency constituents can count on when every day counts. DEVAN EATON, PE, is project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation. BEN WALZ, PE, is resident engineer for the Maine Department of Transportation.
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