North Carolina Department of Transportation

There are times when community input requires skilled facilitators to manage a carefully designed process that will enable and empower those who are most passionate and most affected by a project to join in partnership with the NCDOT to strengthening opportunities for successful planning and results. Partners for Impact designed and facilitated this kind of process for the I-440/Glenwood Ave Interchange Project.



North Carolina Department of Transportation

Services Provided:

Planning and Design, Evaluation

The Problem/Challenge:

Residents from the Ridge Road neighborhood organized and expressed concerns about the Glenwood Avenue/I-440 interchange redesign. NC DOT wanted to try a different approach to community engagement in order to design the interchange.

Our Process:

We mobilized facilitators and hosted 22 listening sessions/focus groups (2 facilitators in each focus group), transcribed, compiled and analyzed the data to identify priorities to the community as the project was being developed and constructed.

End Result:

Generated a report and presented the results to three engineering firms who made designs that honored the values for the community impacted by the road construction.

Continued Success:

The project was placed on hold as a result of listening to the community to wait after the redesign of the Wade Avenue/I-440 interchange which is approximately two miles away.



The interchange at Glenwood Avenue and I-440 is being redesigned. Accidents that involve both pedestrians and automobiles at Crabtree Valley Mall, along with congested traffic, require a new design in order to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety. The Ridge Road neighborhood is located right next to this interchange and residents had concerns about the impact any design changes would have on their neighborhood. NCDOT took a different approach to engaging community members in feedback sessions. As a result, Partners for Impact organized 22  facilitated listening sessions of 8-14 people each for this project. The approach to this process of community input used facilitated discussions/focus groups as a means of gathering data. Using the community input, Partners for Impact made recommendations for three engineering firms as they created construction project concept designs. These designs took into consideration the values expressed by participants in the listening sessions. An interesting note is that Partners for Impact attended a meeting where six different designs (two from each firm) were shared. All three design firms started brainstorming ideas and ways to enhance each other’s projects. Prior to the decision to postpone the project, the intent was to go back to the community with a checklist of community values and the designs for the community to review and to choose the one that best represented their prioritized values.

This process was different from traditional public forums hosted by NCDOT where designs and ideas are presented about the project and the community gets to express their approval and/or disapproval along with various reasons for their position in an open meeting. The structured listening sessions provided time and respect for each community member/stakeholder to share their concerns, values, and ideas about the project before the project was designed. Traditional community forums where there are large audiences can disincentivize some people from sharing their thoughts and opinions. In fact, as participants left the listening sessions, some people acknowledged that they would not have shared in a larger context, many thanked the team for providing this opportunity, a few admitted being skeptical in the beginning but felt the meetings were productive and helpful, and some acknowledged that they remained skeptical of the process even as the meetings concluded. Facilitators reported at the end of each session they asked the groups if they felt they had been listened to and if they felt heard. An overwhelming majority of participants affirmed feeling heard. You can view the final report.