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Salem launches program to enhance communications during major construction projects

Posted by Terri Ogan  April 25, 2013 09:13 AM

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The city of Salem has launched a public information effort to improve communications and address constituent concerns related to major construction projects in town.

The initiative, entitled "BuildingSalem," is expected to last through 2017, as Salem prepares to undergo nearly $1.5 billion in public and private projects throughout the city, according to the mayor's office.

The primary goal of BuildingSalem is to limit disruption to the city's neighborhoods and businesses and facilitate better communication between project partners, residents, and city government.

“Salem is a growing, thriving community,” said Mayor Kimberley Driscoll in a recent announcement. “But we are also a city with older infrastructure, transportation challenges, and other barriers to growth. There are dozens of projects already underway or scheduled to commence in the next few years that will go a long way towards addressing and remedying those issues. It’s going to be dusty and, at times, noisy, but that’s the sign of a city that is moving forward.”

The program will consist of a number of components including a BuildingSalem hotline and email address, that constituents may call with their questions or comments about construction-related matters, a website with the program's goals and contact info and Facebook and Twitter accounts, among other things.

“This effort will build on the lessons learned from previous major construction projects in Salem,” Driscoll said. “It is singularly focused on minimizing disruption and maintaining open lines of communication between those planning or executing projects and the residents and businesses of our City.”

The mayor added that the campaign will not replace existing public information and corporate relations efforts being undertaken by specific projects.

Instead, BuildingSalem is focused on smoothing out issues related to resident and business outreach and communications from the city when it comes to major projects.

Some of these major projects include the MBTA commuter rail station and garage, Canal Street improvements and the National Grid cable replacement project.

The campaign coordinator, Beth Debski, will also function as a project manager, facilitating communication between different projects and project partners to ensure that residents and businesses are notified about potential disruptions.

Debski said that the initiative was planned in the last couple of months.

"As a result of the projects that went on on Bridge Street, which was a state construction project, the mayor wanted to better manage the projects going on and get the word out to the business owners and residents about what's going on," Debski said. "People might ask, 'What do I do if this happens? How do i know if this street is closed?'"

The two-year Bridge Street project, which ended in 2012, entailed newly paved sidewalks, roadways, new curbing and new landscaping.

Debski added that there will be so many projects going on at the same time, officials want to try to make it the least disruptive possible.

Signs will be located throughout downtown Salem on trash receptacles, notifying residents and visitors about the program's hotline and website.

In addition, signs with the campaign’s contact information will also be placed at all major construction sites throughout the city for the duration of the initiative.

Below is BuildingSalem's information:

-Facebook: www.facebook.com/buildingsalem
-Twitter: https://twitter.com/BuildingSalem
-Hotline: 978-619-5605
-Email: buildingsalem@salem.com
-Website: www.buildingsalem.com

Terri Ogan can be reached at oganglobe@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter.

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