A successful highway process includes public involvement. To be effective, public involvement must be sought from the beginning, during the definition of need for the project. The public should be involved while there are the greatest opportunities for changes in the design. This will result in a smoother and faster process.
Public input can also help in assessing the characteristics of the area and determining what physical features are most valued by the community, thus having the greatest potential for impact. Knowing the features of an area are valued may help designers avoid them altogether and reduce the need for mitigation and the likelihood for controversy. After working with the community to define the project and assess the physical character, continuous public involvement is important to gain input on possible alternatives.
Identifying community values, defining the project need with the public, gathering information on the area, and solving design conflicts with the public necessitate a proactive public involvement effort going far beyond the usual presentation of well developed design alternatives at formal public meetings and hearings. For example, by using a workshop meeting format early in project design, highway designers can ask members of the public to identify types of design features that they find appealing or unappealing.
Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision making helps highway designers who are seeking ways to enable the public to contribute constructively to planning and design issues. The project presentations and statements from the public during traditional public meetings and public hearings are often more conducive to taking stands than to solving difficult design issues. This publication offers both highway designers and citizens a wealth of specific ideas and contacts for more information in the following topic areas:
- “Informing People Through Outreach and Organization” provides a variety of ways to orchestrate public contacts to enable a flow of information between the public and the agency, where it can be used effectively in the design process.
- “Involving People Face to Face Through Meetings” shows how to make meetings interactive occasions where people can discuss design issues and work together on solutions.
- “Getting Feedback From Participants” provides new ideas and perspectives and helps agencies determine how well citizens understand complex issues. Feedback may indicate that more information is needed for better understanding.
- “Using Special Techniques To Enhance Participation” provides ways to capture and maintain attention in today’s busy environment. Gradually declining attendance and a lack of questions from citizens may indicate that involvement is faltering and in need of rejuvenation.
For more information on “Public Involvement” contact: