TRB 2016 Blue Ribbon Committee
16th National Transportation Planning Applications Conference

MoPac Expressway Corridor, Austin, Texas: Data Visualization and Outreach Experience

Corresponding Author: Dee Anne Heath, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

Presented By: Dee Anne Heath, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority


Data visualization is critical to both presenting project needs and findings and is extremely vital for success of a project. It is important to prepare visualizations that are appropriate for the desired audience. While there are several visualization tools such as graphs, plots, and tables that are commonplace for technical audience, newer techniques are becoming available for preparing visualizations that appeal to general public.

This presentation is to discuss the public involvement techniques useful for decision makers and non-technical stakeholders as was used for the MoPac Expressway improvements study. The MoPac Expressway study corridor is located just west of downtown Austin and includes several bottleneck locations. This nine-mile-long study corridor provides connectivity to several arterial and local streets.

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) has successfully used 2-dimensional videos with audio annotations and has found it to be cost effective and an efficient technique for public outreach as part of this project. Video clips with audio annotations were developed to illustrate pros and cons of different proposed geometric configurations at key bottleneck locations. Analysis results were presented at several occasions including virtual open-house, on-line meetings and technical workshops with City of Austin and other public agencies.

As opposed to developing 3-dimensional visualization that illustrates operations from a human eye level perspective, videos that illustrate system level operational challenges, as shown below were developed. This assisted in conveying the overall challenges the project faces to the public who are often focused on localized concerns. Clear and succinct audio annotations were used along with the video to explain observed operational challenges. With use of audio annotations, the videos were posted online for a virtual open-house and were made suitable for independent viewing by stakeholders at their own convenient times.


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