UTS Library

Compton Road Upgrade Project


Brisbane City Council

PR Company: 

Marcom Communication

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2004 B 4



Executive Summary: 

The Compton Road Upgrade provided a significant step forward in environmentally sensitive road upgrade design.

Dividing two significant and sensitive environmental areas  Karawatha and Kuraby Forests  the section of Compton Road between Persse Road and Acacia Avenue, Kuraby, remained the only two-lane section of this four-lane road. 

Traffic volumes demanded an upgrade, while local environmental group pressure had prevented it, due to the impacts on safe fauna movement between the forests across a four-lane road.

A traditional road design would not be successful in winning the support of the powerful environmental lobby.  A standard community communication program also faced little hope of success. 

A highly targeted community communication program was implemented that worked collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a final upgrade solution that was publicly supported by environmental groups and could be constructed without fear of opposition.

Situation Analysis: 

A difficult project in a difficult area

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />

Compton Road

is a major east-west arterial road linking the southern Brisbane suburbs of Calamvale, Runcorn and Kuraby to the western Logan suburbs of Woodridge, Slacks Creek and Springwood.  The road had been progressively upgraded to four lanes within the BrisbaneCity and Logan City Council jurisdictions to address ever-increasing traffic demands.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

In July 2003, Brisbane City Council identified the need to upgrade the last remaining two-lane section of the road, between Persse and Acacia Roads, Kuraby.  This would provide four lanes for the full length of

Compton Road

, improving travel times, safety and accessibility.

The Problem

This section of

Compton Road

is located in an isolated area, not subject to urban development.  It had not been upgraded previously due to the major environmental issues associated with its location between two environmentally significant and sensitive areas  Karawatha and KurabyForests.

These forests are home to a number of Australian native animals, which regularly cross

Compton Road

to access each forest:



Squirrel Gliders

Grey Kangaroos

Common Dunnarts

Sugar Gliders

Swamp Wallabies

Common Planigales

Wallum Froglets

Rednecked Wallabies

Greater Gliders

Green-thighed Frogs

While broader community concern was unlikely due to the projects location away from residential areas, a very strong and vocal environmental movement existed to protect fauna and connectivity between the two forests.  

The Opportunity

An approach was required that would win the support of this environmental movement.

A traditional road design would not be successful.  A standard community communication program also faced little hope of achieving success. 

MarCom Communication was contracted to deliver a communication program that, in cooperation with flexible design, would ultimately achieve the support for the upgrade. 


Key issues identified

Extensive research was undertaken prior to development of the communication strategy, to identify:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

  • stakeholders with a potential interest in the project
  • fauna species inhabiting the forests and relevant protection issues
  • other issues relevant to the project.

The following research methods were employed:

Stakeholder identification

Meetings with local Councillors

- to gather information about constituents and local action groups

Web research

- to identify environmental groups relevant to the area

Stakeholder identification workshop

- to identify all internal and external stakeholders

Fauna investigations

Discussions with recognised environmental specialists (James Cook and <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />GriffithUniversities)

- to determine fauna issues associated with this project

Project issues

Issues assessment workshop

- to brainstorm possible issues, their impact and mitigation measures

The results of this research were used to develop a comprehensive communication strategy, which included:

  • a complete list of key stakeholders (target publics)
  • thorough assessment of potential project issues and possible mitigation measures
  •  a program for consulting stakeholders on an evolving design, to maximise the opportunity for success.

Target Policies: 

Critical to success

Two primary target publics and one secondary broader public were identified, based on their likely level of interest and potential impact on the project.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Primary Target Publics

Environmental Interest Groups

  • <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />KarawathaForest Protection Society
  • Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee


Critical to project success! 

The pressure these groups exerted had seen previous projects collapse and was the reason this section of road had remained two lanes for so long.

The potential for negative media and public campaigns generated by these groups could not be underestimated.


Brisbane City Council
  • Lord Mayor
  • Chairperson
  • Local Councillors
  •  Urban Management Division

 A primary target public for two key reasons: 

  •  As the client, Brisbane City Council was publicly accountable for project outcomes, including management of issues.  It was imperative that accountable political personnel were aware of project discussions, agreements and undertakings, particularly when responding to media inquiry.
  • As the key decision maker about funding for the project, significant lobbying of Council stakeholders was required.  The additional environmental features negotiated presented an increased project cost, requiring full Council support.

Secondary Target Publics

Broader Southern Brisbane Population

  • Residents
  • Businesses
  • Road users
Important for two key reasons:
  • This public needed to be aware of project features, objectives, benefits and timing and be provided the opportunity for input if desired.
  • With significant environmental features, this project was a benchmark for environmentally sensitive road design and the opportunity to promote Councils positive legacy could not be overlooked.

Communication Strategy: 

Targeted & collaborative

Strategy<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Due to the isolated nature of this road and its distinct identifiable interest groups,

a strategy employing highly targeted communication was used,

rather than a mass-communication approach.

Research identified the project would be of specific interest primarily to the active environmental interest groups.  The broader community, including residents in surrounding suburbs, were unlikely to be interested in the project due to the lack of direct impact on these areas and the ability to construct the project without delay to motorists. 

Communication resources were arranged to focus on key target publics, while still informing secondary publics.


The implementation of the communication strategy involved a three-stage approach to allow discussion of design features, refinement and further refinement to reach a final solution developed in collaboration with key target publics.

Stage One  Project announcement and concept discussion

Stage Two  Concept refinement and investigation

Stage Three  Final design presentation.

The following matrix demonstrates the individual communication tactics employed to support the communication strategy during each of these stages.

Stage One

Stage Two

Stage Three

Primary Public Communication

Councillor briefings




Council meeting presentations



Direct mail letters




Face-to-face meetings




Telephone conferences




Secondary Public Communication

Media release




Web site






Public display


Free-call project information line




The rationale for this implementation methodology was developed based on the following:

Councillor briefings

At the commencement of each stage, briefings were held with Councillors to ensure awareness of the project status and of the process for further development of the design solution.  

Rationale This would ensure Councillors ability to respond effectively to media and stakeholder inquiry, reducing the spread of misinformation. 

Face-to-face meetings and telephone conferences

Meetings and telephone conferences were held with environmental interest groups to present the upgrade concept, seek feedback on environmental measures and clarify issues of interest. 

Rationale This would ensure the issues of this public were identified and managed proactively.  Any media inquiry to these groups was less likely to receive a negative comment, due to their advance awareness of design features and ongoing dialogue. 

Council lobbying  

Following review of outcomes of environmental group meetings, formal presentations were made to Council to recommend design features and seek funding approval.

Rationale Presentations were needed to support the request for additional features, rather than relying on briefing papers, as is more often the protocol.  It allowed the reality of the project to be presented and the Lord Mayor to form a first hand impression of project benefits.

Media articles, advertisements, web site and public display

These activities were used to raise awareness of the project and to provide opportunities for the communities surrounding <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />

Compton Road

to comment on design features. 

Rationale These activities would ensure that communities closest to the project would have an opportunity to learn about and comment on upgrade plans if desired, ensuring  involvement in the planning process and identification of any unknown stakeholders.


Free-call information line

Established as the main point of project contact.

Rationale This would provide a direct line of communication between the project and its targetpublics for lodging of comments and information requests.  It would also ensure consistency of information through a single source.



A template for future projects Primary Target Public Outcomes<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The first and most significant result of this community communication program was the achievement of support from the two key environmental groups, one noting it as:

a template for future resolution of similar conflicts.

Through the series of targeted meetings with these groups and Council, the original concept plans for the project were amended to produce a final design supported by all.

Review of the original and final upgrade plan shows the dramatic difference community communication made (see appendix A):

Initial Concept Two under-road fauna crossings at either end of the project area

Full-corridor fencing

Final Design Three under-road crossings

One mid-corridor fauna overpass

Three arboreal crossings (rope structures for tree-dwelling fauna)

Full-corridor fencing.

Consultation with environmental groups revealed that fauna would be more likely to use mid-corridor, open-air crossings.  An overpass and arboreal structures were initially thought by designers to be inappropriate, due to the impact on surrounding vegetation.  However, further discussions revealed sections of degraded vegetation that could easily make way for these structures.

The design solution was presented to Council, highlighting its benefits for stakeholder support and the positive Brisbane City Council legacy of environmentally sensitive road design.  Funding was approved for this design solution. 

Secondary Target Public Outcomes

Coverage in numerous media articles included positive references to the environmental initiatives of the project, even early in the project when environmental group suggestions had not yet been incorporated into planning outcomes.

Public display and other broad feedback was limited, confirming the low level of interest from secondary publics. 


Extremely successful 100% achievement

When evaluated against initial objectives, <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

this community communication program is confirmed as extremely successful.

Stakeholder Involvement Ensure all (100%) stakeholders with a direct interest in the project are identified and involved in consultation activities.

  • All identified stakeholders were invited to comment on the project through direct mail contact. 
  • Several meetings were held with the key groups during development of the final design. 
  • No previously unidentified stakeholders appeared late in the project.

Stakeholder Support Ensure all (100%) identified key stakeholders are supportive of the final design outcome and of the upgrade in general.

  • Support for the final upgrade design in this previously untouchable area was expressed by identified key stakeholders in meetings, letters of support and media articles.  

(see letters of support and articles in appendix A).

Environmental Positioning Ensure communication about the project, whether generated by the project team or reported in the media, highlights the significant environmental initiatives of the project.

  • Review of project communication reveals environmental initiatives were highlighted as a priority.
  • Over 80% of each media article was focused on environmental features, not the usual infrastructure features.

(see appendix A)