Just as the County’s Waste & Recycling unit requires HB Councilman Matt Harper and four other staffers to handle Public Relations, we’re learning that the PR needs of the OC Transportation Authority are similarly complex — but in this case it’s not an obscure County Department, it’s a FREEWAY. THE 405 NEEDS A “Public Outreach” consultant — for six years, and $4.7 million! We’d speculate the majority of these funds come from Measure M.
The OCTA released RFP 2-2053 yesterday. They’re looking for:
“…consultant assistance to help develop and conduct a comprehensive public outreach program working in tandem with the technical team/contractor during the pre-construction / construction phase of the I-405 Improvement Project. The consultant will be an extension of OCTA staff. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, OCTA is responsive to the concerns and needs of the community during construction. The outreach program will share with the public the general scope of the project, anticipated and real construction impacts, mitigation measures and traffic management plan (TMP) details, as well as the project’s progress.
We’re especially pleased that OCTA considers themselves “stewards of taxpayer” dollars — otherwise we’d believe that they’re wasting them on a communications campaign to warn us that their piddling single lane widening of this heavily used freeway might cause us some delay or inconvenience.
The spokeshole’s goals are:
…to inform motorists, merchants, employers, local residents, elected officials, civic organizations and government agencies about project parameters, as well as anticipated construction impacts and steps that can be taken by OCTA and the contractor to minimize those impacts. The Consultant shall assist OCTA with providing public information proactively through written and electronic media sources, and provide quick responses and resolutions to community concerns prior to and during the construction period. The public outreach program will educate the community on the requirements of construction and ultimate project benefits. When community members are notified of construction needs, it has been determined they are much more tolerant of construction. Some of the anticipated construction impacts include long-term closures, temporary lane and evening full freeway closures, detours, vibration, noise, and dust.
Put another way, have a Facebook page and the phone numbers of a few dozen Council members and a couple of bored reporters for the affected cities in your cell phone, go to their meetings, apologize for the noise and dust, and the one $1.3 billion lane this mess will produce when two could have been had for just $100 million more (7.7%).
Easy money for the right PR flak, but a waste for those who suffer this freeway every day. When we voted and barely passed Measure M (twice). little did we know that the OCTA and the freeway would have a stronger voice than us.