Changing The Communication Landscape Through Construction

By Chad Gamble Public Service Director City of Lansing, MI | March 2010 Vol. 65 No. 3

In conjunction with the separation of the combined sewers, the CSO Control Program collaborates with businesses including the Lansing Board of Water and Light, Consumers Energy, AT&T and Comcast to integrate underground construction planning and execution. Updating the infrastructure for new technologies, this cooperation eliminates the need for future underground construction projects and saves resources, energy and funds.

The integrated planning of the CSO Control Program and the city of Lansing has also aided in the enhancement of city streetscape and infrastructure programs. Major areas of enhancement in the last several years included the creation of bio-retention rain gardens along city sidewalks, beautifying the landscape along the Michigan Avenue corridor, and a main thoroughfare for traffic leading up to the capitol building.

The CSO Control Program also aids in the improvement of public health and aquatic habitats for businesses, residents and wildlife along Lansing’s waterways. With a new City Market and the Accident Fund Insurance headquarters opening on Lansing’s Grand River in 2010, these benefits are increasing property values and have business owners taking a second look at Lansing’s riverfront property potential.

What made the 2009 construction season a success for Lansing was not only in construction and environmental advancements, but also the communication. A major component that was missing from the CSO Control Program (and many underground construction programs across the nation) was a solid, creative campaign to make businesses and the public care about the issues that the CSO program is working to correct.

“So many business owners and community members who see the tractors and backhoes tearing up their street think we’re just repairing Michigan roads,” said Nicole McPherson, project engineer for Tetra Tech. “It takes a strong message and concerted effort to help them understand what we’re doing is so much more than what’s on the surface.”

In 2008, the CSO Control Program contractors teamed up with the city of Lansing and Motion Marketing & Media (M3), a local marketing firm, to create an integrated communication plan to raise awareness of the positive results of the project. Through the work of M3’s creative talents and the visionary planning of the CSO team, the heart of their plan began with a CSO mascot: Swish the Fish.

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