Engagement is the Key to a Transport Infrastructure that Works for Everyone

Engagement is a chain that ultimately leads to better outcomes from infrastructure projects. By this, we mean creating rail and highways assets that are reliable, cheap to maintain and a joy to use. We know that earlier engagement of contractors and specialists delivers better quality and fewer project delays, but engagement doesn’t end there.

As contractors, we can’t really preach early engagement to our customers if we don’t practice it ourselves. Our engagement with end users and customers of the road and rail networks is just as important. We are talking about national assets that have a massive impact on the prosperity and quality of life of the communities that are served by them.

We talk a great deal in the infrastructure sector about end user experience. We can’t get on top of this issue without early, continued and meaningful engagement or the flexibility to change our approach to better meet people’s needs.

Sometimes it’s small-scale measures that matter. On a recent road bridge refurbishment project in Essex, it was possible to carry out the work without a closure. It would be easy to assume that local engagement wasn’t an issue. But nearby properties did have a concern, mainly about the environment and wildlife.

Osborne staff spoke to the residents at least once each week and attended parish council meetings before and during the project to update the community and listen to any concerns. The underside of the bridge was securely encapsulated to prevent any materials entering the local water supply and acoustic curtains kept disturbance from sandblasting to a minimum.

On a grander scale, early engagement is the most effective way to safeguard against late redesigns, rework, cost escalation and delayed completion of infrastructure projects. It’s about getting the right expertise together when the project is scoped and designed so that technical challenges are pre-empted and solved before work starts.

Being more interactive at every level and every stage of infrastructure projects is an investment that ultimately saves time and cost and produces a better outcome for everyone.

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