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FHWA/FTA Questions and Answers on Public Involvement in Transportation Decisionmaking

[2] What are some of the key considerations in planning for effective public involvement?

An effective public involvement process provides for an open exchange of information and ideas between the public and transportation decisionmakers. The overall objective of an area's public involvement process is that it be proactive, provide complete information, timely public notice, full public access to key decisions, and opportunities for early and continuing involvement (23CFR450.212(a) and 450.316(b)(1)). It also provides mechanisms for the agency or agencies to solicit public comments and ideas, identify circumstances and impacts which may not have been known or anticipated by public agencies, and, by doing so, to build support among the public who are stakeholders in transportation investments which impact their communities.

Six useful key elements in planning for effective public involvement are: (1) Clearly-defined purpose and objectives for initiating a public dialogue on transportation plans, programs, and projects, (2)Identification of specifically who the affected public and other stakeholder groups are with respect to the plan(s), program(s), and project(s) under development, (3) Identification of techniques for engaging the public in the process, (4) Notification procedures which effectively target affected groups, (5) Education and assistance techniques which result in an accurate and full public understanding of the transportation problem, potential solutions, and obstacles and opportunities within various solutions to the problem, and, (6) Follow through by public agencies demonstrating that decisionmakers seriously considered public input.

Updated: 05/16/2013
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