The National Cooperative Highway Research Program released last week a guide that advises state transportation departments how to communicate the value of preserving the nation's highway infrastructure to various stakeholders. The guide, formally titled "NCHRP Report 742: Communicating the Value of Preservation: A Playbook," helps state DOTs better understand and better speak to the reasons to invest in the U.S. highway system. The publication aims to help transportation agency staff influence leadership, elected officials, and the general public to remember why resources are vital to keeping highway infrastructure well-maintained.
More specifically, the document seeks to help state DOTs show that preservation matters by putting it in the minds of its stakeholders, get preservation recognized as something that should be a priority, create a network of supporters who also believe preservation is a major priority and that can help state DOTs reach their goals, and create a call to action through rallying supporters to advocate on behalf of preservation.
The guide stresses the importance of highway preservation, which the report defined as "encompassing work to extend the life of existing facilities (and associated hardware and equipment) and to repair damage that impedes mobility or safety. The purpose of system preservation is to retain the existing value of an asset and its ability to perform as designed. Preservation counters the wear and tear of physical infrastructure that occurs over time due to traffic loading, climate, crashes, and aging. It is accomplished through both capital projects and maintenance actions."
"This document is written as a guide that agency staff can use in formulating an effective strategy for communicating the importance of highway maintenance and preservation, applying criteria and methods for evaluating the effectiveness of a campaign strategy, and adjusting a strategy if necessary to ensure its effectiveness," the report states. "Applying the methods and examples presented in the guide can help an agency's stakeholders to understand the scope, scale, and urgency of their highway system's preservation and maintenance needs."
The 197-page guide is available in PDF form at bit.ly/NCHRPcommvalue.