Would you be willing to talk to us about a project if you could do it from home?
Before you see construction workers building a bridge or expanding a highway, our engineers spend a lot of time carefully planning and designing a project. We do our best to engage you and your neighbors to help us make the best decisions along the way; however, we’ve noticed that fewer and fewer people are coming to our public meetings and open houses. We understand that you’re extremely busy and that it’s difficult to take time to talk with us about a project that might not be built for years. You can always call us, e-mail us, visit our Web site, read our newsletter or send us a letter, but none of those offer much opportunity for conversation and feedback. We need your perspective to help build community values into our plans and projects. How can we gain your perspective if an open house or public meeting doesn’t fit your busy schedule or isn’t your cup of tea? We’re looking for new ways to engage you in discussion about our projects that will affect all of us.
How about a virtual open house?
A virtual open house is an Internet based meeting where we can meet online and discuss transportation projects -- an online version of an open house. Anyone can attend the virtual open house by logging on to a Web site and joining the conversation. We could offer a live camera feed of presentations, documents and other materials and an opportunity to participate in discussions ask questions and receive feedback. You could participate without fighting traffic, hiring a babysitter or even putting on a pair of shoes.
Would you be more likely to attend a virtual open house instead a physical open house?
Our first virtual open house
The I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project is a $525 million, rural highway widening project located in the Cascade Mountains. This isn’t just a local project. It affects millions of people from Puget Sound’s deep-water ports and metropolitan cities to the farm communities, industries and outdoor recreation areas of eastern Washington.
In the summer of 2005, we held several public meetings in an effort to engage the public regarding the project. We held five meetings across the state in Seattle, Tacoma, Hyak (at the Summit of Snoqualmie Pass), Ellensburg and Spokane. This was an exhaustive and costly process. On average about 90 people attended each meeting.
The following year, we needed to talk with the public again. In an effort to increase public participation and save time and money, we tried a virtual open house in conjunction with just one public meeting held in Hyak. In addition to the 90 people who attended the physical open house, over 100 people attended the virtual open house – effectively doubling the public participation.