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A Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making

How the Decisionmaking Starts

For many of us, transportation projects seem to come from nowhere. Others may vaguely remember a project "promised" years ago. Too often, too many people have negative impressions of how transportation projects come about.

Instead, try comparing the transportation decisionmaking process to the creative process for producing a piece of pottery. The potter begins with a mass of clay and an idea for the final creation but as the mass begins to take shape, there are changes and adjustments that have to be made, with some clay added here and there. You, the public, are involved in the shaping and adding to make the creation as beautiful and useful as possible. We, at the FHWA and FTA, want, and look forward to, your involvement from the beginning to the end of each transportation project.

This guide only discusses federal requirements for the transportation decisionmaking process. The federal role is to provide funds, standards, and planning for state and local decisions. The states, MPOs, and transit operators make project decisions. There are other state, regional, and local rules and requirements affecting transportation decisions that are not discussed in this guide.

Transportation affects almost every aspect of a person's life. With your help, the FHWA and FTA can do our part to keep the U.S. transportation system one of the safest and most efficient in the world! We also want the system to be one of the most community and environmentally friendly as well. Please read this guide, and contact us with any questions you may have.

FHWA logo with three pictures; train, a bridge, and a bike path
Updated: 03/28/2012
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