Rouse Avenue – Main to Oak
Fall 2018 – Fall 2020
Montana Department of Transportation
Challenge: It’s no secret that the Gallatin Valley is expanding rapidly. That growth is putting significant pressure on existing infrastructure, leading to traffic congestion and safety challenges. To help meet this increased demand and to provide the safest travel routes for years to come, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) reconstructed a significant portion of one of Bozeman’s most important thoroughfares—Rouse Avenue from Main Street to Oak Street. This stretch of road is uniquely challenging as it’s extremely busy and highly residential. When Big Sky Public Relations first joined the project, the neighborhood was upset, tense and angry. The initial utility work took longer than expected. Residents had questions and no one to answer them.
Approach: Big Sky Public Relations started public outreach by holding a neighborhood meeting. Here, residents had the opportunity to ask their questions directly to the project team. This also was a great occasion to introduce the community to our team so they could begin to feel they were being heard. This public involvement not only eased previous issues; it engaged a powerful outreach network which remained fully engaged throughout the project. Through the course of the project, weekly updates were distributed so questions were answered before they even came up. Public awareness efforts also included a large media push which was supported by on an ongoing basis of targeted digital and social media advertising, broadcast advertising, weekly website updates, robust media relations outreach and complaint mitigation. As the project continued to progress, significant and unplanned street closures occurred but complaints were minimal. The community had a resource to lean on to keep them informed throughout construction.
Results: Rouse Avenue public involvement and public awareness efforts created an overall positive community and stakeholder response, despite a rocky start. The prime contractor also felt supported by the community – resulting in one neighborhood bar buying them pizza. Overall, we had over 130 resolved complaints from our project hotline/email correspondence with stakeholders.