20151002 Engaging communities on the value of infrastructure 370x298

A panel discussion called for genuine community engagement that sells the benefits of infrastructure projects at a Roads Australia forum in Melbourne this week.

Coffey Business Development Manager Transport Infrastructure Sukumar Pathmanandavel, a principal geotechnical engineer, chaired the discussion, which questioned how the industry encourages a more rational debate on the value of infrastructure.

The panel included Metropolitan Planning Authority Director Technical Services Mark Knudsen, City of Whittlesea Director – Advocacy & Communications Griff Davis, EastLink Corporate Affairs and Marketing Manager Doug Spencer-Roy and MosaicLab Co-founder Keith Greaves.

“With a growing number of transport infrastructure projects beginning in Australia, this is an exciting time for our industry – and the communities that will benefit from these projects,” Sukumar said.

“It’s essential we explain these benefits from planning and through design and construction to ensure new projects ultimately meet local needs.”

The panel called for community engagement early, to understand community needs, and to indicate how new road projects could support local development.

This included getting the balance right between urban and regional road projects, inviting community representatives to be part of the planning process and ensuring regular updates that explain the reasons for and benefits of a project.

“Effective community engagement can contribute to project success – and it’s essential that the transport infrastructure industry plays a role in this process,” Sukumar said.

“As our cities grow our road networks become more important than ever, so we must engage in an active conversation on what makes a great infrastructure project – and the positive impact it can have on communities over the long term.”

The forum formed part of a regular Roads Australia event series aimed at addressing issues of national, community and stakeholder interest in relation to road transport.