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Case Studies

Case Studies provide examples of innovative practices that State Departments of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, public transportation providers and other organizations are using to promote effective public participation in transportation decision-making.

Public Involvement Evaluation

Under ISTEA and related regulations and continuing under TEA-21, State DOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations need to have a proactive public involvement processes. Many States and agencies in major metropolitan update their public involvement plans and procedures regularly using input from staff experience and the public; nonetheless, transportation professionals continue to express interest in learning about understandable and professionally accepted methods for evaluating how well public involvement plans or procedures work. Following is the first of a series of case studies that illustrate effective methods for performing public involvement evaluation.

Brevard Metropolitan Planning Organization (Viera, Florida): Understanding the Purpose Upfront - The Brevard Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) adopted a new Public Involvement Plan (PIP) and Evaluation Handbook in November 2000. The PIP provides the policy to support evaluation and details the full complement of public involvement techniques and their application. The Evaluation Handbook takes this one step farther by delineating evaluation criteria, performance goals and methods to meet each goal for all of the techniques outlined in the PIP. By developing these documents together, the agency has created an effective framework to simultaneously conduct, evaluate and refine its public involvement policy and techniques.

Alaska: Evaluation Through Public Engagement - The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT) began in 1996 to redefine the agency's relationship to the public. This effort was inspired by Governor Tony Knowles who set a clear goal at the beginning of his term to improve public participation in the planning process. Through self-assessment, the ADOT determined that its communication was too oriented to public relations, which resulted in a one-way flow of information to the public. The Statewide Planning Division saw the requirement for proactive outreach to the public in the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act as an opportunity to create a two-way communication process and better define the role of the public in agency decision making.

Other examples of public involvement evaluation can be found on the Transportation Planning Capacity Building program web pages: from Florida DOT and from Minnesota DOT.

Additional Case Studies

The Transportation Capacity Building Program Peer Program

The Transportation Planning Capacity Building (TPCB) peer programs includes examples of effective public involvement.

From Albany, New York (June 13-15, 2001) "Noteworthy Practices of Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC)" - The peer exchange highlighted noteworthy practices and the underlying philosophy of the Capital District Transportation Committee such as their Long Range Plan development process which laid the foundation for the MPO's other activities including Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) development, corridor studies, and Congestion Management System (CMS).

From Melbourne and Orlando, Florida (April 30-May 2, 2002) "Techniques for Public Involvement" - The peer exchange was arranged to provide an opportunity for the Michigan MPOs to learn how to improve their community-based public involvement processes in order to make them more effective in engaging diverse neighborhood groups in the transportation planning process.

From Tucson, Arizona (October 4-5, 2004) "Effective Public Involvement Procedures throughout a Multi-Disciplinary Agency" - The Exchange was designed to provide the hosts — Pima Association of Governments (PAG) and Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) — with new techniques that could be applied to improve their public involvement processes.

FHWA Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program Projects

The Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program (TCSP) project in Hartford, Connecticut, "Picture It Better Together: Taking Transportation Goals From Policy To Reality," was a collaborative effort between the City of Hartford, on behalf of Parkville neighborhood organizations, and the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG). Recognizing their mutual interests the two groups joined forces. At the regional level, project sponsors decided to focus initially on education and dialogue, in order to introduce people to alternative development concepts and determine reactions to these concepts with Parkville serving as one of CRCOG's three prototype communities.

For the TCSP project in Houston, Texas, "The Main Street Corridor Planning and Research Project," an important emphasis was building broad-based public and private partnerships. The absence of zoning laws in the City of Houston means that public agencies have little authority to implement land use policy unilaterally. As a result, cooperative arrangements are necessary to guide land use and development.

Public Involvement and Environmental Justice Examples

In Madison, Wisconsin, the "Verona Road/West Beltline Needs Assessment Study" example illustrates the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's efforts to involve stakeholders - including low-income and minority residents - early in the planning process, which resulted in a number of key issues and concerns identified that might otherwise have been overlooked.

In Oakland, California, the Fruitvale Transit Village project case study illustrates a number of key themes and effective practices that are central to incorporating the principles of environmental justice into transportation planning and design including a commitment to public involvement by the lead agencies involved.

In Tucson, Arizona, the South Park Avenue Improvement project provides an example of creative and effective public involvement strategies the gave community residents a strong sense of project ownership. For example, community residents voted on project designs and created artwork integral to the project.

Updated: 8/1/2013
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