By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — PennDOT has a new approach. The agency says it’s going to listen to locals first, before putting shovels in the ground.

Local neighborhoods have wants and needs associated with any PennDOT project. Now, PennDOT plans to meet with local governments and planning organizations first, before projects are designed.

State Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards unveiled the approach called “PennDOT Connects” at a meeting of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

“Having these discussions at the forefront, before our projects are even in design, is allowing us to fully consider what’s important in every single community,” Richards explained.

She uses the South Street Bridge as an example of a project designed for the needs of drivers, bikers and walkers who all had input. Collaborating earlier, she says, can also reduce costly changes after a project is underway.