Batemans Bay Bridge Replacement Project, Australia

Designing an engagement programme with a bespoke digital strategy

Roads and Maritime Services is replacing the bridge over the Clyde River at Batemans Bay to provide a more reliable connection across the river and to improve traffic flow and access to Batemans Bay. Batemans Bay is a major regional centre on the New South Wales south coast and the closest coastal town to Canberra, making it a popular holiday destination.

Aurecon was engaged by Roads and Maritime Services to carry out the concept design and environmental assessment for the project, including community engagement and consultation.

Aurecon commenced consultation as early as possible and in a very clear manner to ensure stakeholders were aware and accepting of the project’s benefits and provided with an opportunity to give meaningful feedback. This also allowed for the quick resolution of issues as they arose.

A community survey was carried out at the preferred option stage of the project to find out what the community valued and to ensure their feedback was fed into Aurecon’s design work. The survey provided critical information on the views and values of the community, which influenced Aurecon’s development of the concept design.

A wide range of communication tools were used – from traditional to digital – to ensure the wider community had a chance to have their say. Information sessions were held in the main shopping centre and along the river foreshore in Batemans Bay town centre. These were supported by static displays throughout the region, an extensive letterbox drop, and videos distributed via social channels and media outlets. The project team also communicated in a proactive, responsive and sensitive way to property owners through face-to-face door knocking, information sessions and meetings.

Transforming traditional engagement with digital tools

Aurecon designed a bespoke digital strategy to communicate with harder to reach groups, including young people, the elderly, diverse minorities, and those who did not reside in the area such as property owners and visitors. To allow the entire community, including those without home internet, the opportunity to visualise the project in a meaningful and engaging way, as well as experience the latest 3D technology, Aurecon developed the following visualisation techniques:

  • Fly-through animation: Aurecon developed an animated fly-through video including developing the concept, scripting, storyboard, voiceover recording and visual production. Created in Aurecon’s VIZ-RT platform, the design of the bridge was brought to life for the community. The fly-through, which was also available for viewing at information sessions, received more than 90 000 online views, attracting the attention of local and state media.
  • 360-degree video: compatible with multiple devices including tablets, mobiles and virtual reality headsets, and made available on Facebook and at information sessions, the video helped to bring the project to life and enabled Aurecon to inform the viewer in a personal, friendly and engaging way. The video received more than 17 500 views online, with successful engagement on Facebook.

Feedback received from the community that directly influenced design:

  • Height of the new bridge – a new bridge height of 12m was adopted to ensure the majority of boats, including all commercial operators, travelling upstream can pass under the new bridge
  • Visual design – Aurecon’s fly-through animated video during the concept design consultation phase showed the community how the bridge would look and allowed for feedback
  • Access from Princes Highway to North Street for large vehicles – the project team undertook further traffic studies in this area and proposed an upgrade to the intersection to allow heavy vehicles to turn safely
  • Local road access at Old Punt Road – the project team is proposing to widen Old Punt Road to allow wider lanes due to community concerns about the road width accommodating caravans and holiday trailers
  • Foreshore improvements, including boat facilities – the community will continue to be consulted on planned improvements to this community space, to boating and fishing facilities and pedestrian and cyclist connections, as the project progresses
  • Tribute to the current bridge – suggestions included a mural, a sculpture and display at the local museum, which will be considered in the next stages, with the community consulted once options have been developed

Aurecon’s engagement programme delivered meaningful contributions from the community to the design of the new bridge. Roads and Maritime Services remains committed to working closely with the community and stakeholders throughout the next stages of the project.

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