Polling system used by state to gauge first reactions
by Hawkins Teague
Jul 25, 2007 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the government holds a public meeting, the purpose is theoretically to actually hear what the public has to say about an issue. But what really happens? Many of those who attend simply listen and don’t speak up. The conversation between officials and the public then tends to be dominated by a few insistent voices.

The day before last Thursday’s public meeting regarding the design of the bridges that will replace the Henry Lawrence Bridge and Eggner’s Ferry Bridge, University of Kentucky Transportation Research Center said that they had taken a big step toward solving this problem.

“We’re here to support the overall bridge construction process,” said Ted Grossardt, the research program manager of the project. “The polling will act as an interface between the designers and the public. Once we collect the data, we can then go back and give detailed answers about which designs the public prefers.”

Keiron Bailey, of the University of Arizona Department of Geography and Regional Development, is working with the research center on the project. He said they call the overall bridge design process “structured public involvement.” The system involves showing members of the public possible designs for the bridges, after which they must enter a number from zero to nine on a keypad to indicate whether or not they liked the design. After the polling data is analyzed, another public meeting will be held sometime in October and preliminary designs will be reviewed.

“At most public meetings of this sort, there’s no clear feedback from the public, and they don’t feel included,” Bailey said. “Because of this, there is a disconnect between the public and the designers. The question is, how do the designers get the information they need about public opinion?”

Find out how the polling works on page 2A of The Cadiz Record.
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