Let’s Take a Field Trip

22 Jun

The old Virginia Street is currently being demolished. The ‘grande dame’ of Reno has been working hard since 1905, allowing traffic to cross the Truckee River for over 100 years!. The bridge was showing signs of extreme wear and it needed to be replaced for safety reasons.

virginia street bridge renoThe bridge was on the National Registry of Historic Places and as such, the project to replace it required special attention and a prescribed process.

Among the requirements were public meetings to discuss the “historic parameters” based on national criteria and how they could be incorporated into new bridge designs that were being considered.

So, why am I tell you this story?Because I had the opportunity to be involved in this step of the process back in 2011.  The meetings were a bit contentious as there were differing opinions about the “new” look of the replacement bridge.

We even adopted meeting ground rules and a definition of consensus so that members would know when they have arrived at it!

The engineers and historical experts presented lots of beautiful pictures and illustrations of what the new bridge might look like.  They were very pretty but somewhat abstract.

You see, the elevation of deck of the new bridge will be about 3 feet higher than the existing one due to flood considerations.  This meant a longer approach on each bank and also an impact to building access alongside the river.  The pictures were nice, yet it was all still pretty hard to visualize.

So, I came up with the idea of an ‘field trip’ so that the concepts on paper could be described in ‘paces’ to show distance and with ‘stakes’ to demonstrate height. The idea was for the committee to leave their board room seats and walk to the bridge and see it for themselves. I heard it was a great success.

Just a thought, if you ever have a group that needs to envision or make decisions about something that can be ‘viewed,’ think about incorporating a field trip. If a picture is worth 1000 words, viewing something personally may be worth a million!




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