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Transportation Planning Process Resource Guide

Introduction and Purpose

Public Involvement is a fundamental component of effective transportation planning, project development, and implementation. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005 - continued to broaden opportunities for public participation in transportation decision-making.

Interested persons have the opportunity for a voice in how our transportation system is developed. This public input provides critical information to State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), public transportation providers and resource agencies to more fully understand and assess potential impacts from possible transportation projects as viewed by the community. Early and continuing public involvement allows transportation and resource organizations to be aware of potential issues, problems and impacts, to discuss them more comprehensively, and to determine how to address such concerns.

Public involvement occurs at all stages of the transportation lifecycle. At the planning stage, public involvement is less about specific project development and more about setting strategic directions and long range objectives. While it can be more challenging to engage interested parties at this stage, there is tremendous value in emphasizing the benefits of public involvement and public participation at these early stages.

This Resource Guide has been developed to briefly review key issues in public involvement/public participation, summarize key requirements, and highlight a variety of notable practices, tools and techniques, particularly in the transportation planning process. It provides a range of websites, publications, notable practices, training and other resources on public involvement/public participation. While the primary focus of this guide is on public involvement/public participation at the planning stage, related references and resources are highlighted that are also applicable and useful throughout project development and delivery. The key emphasis is that effective public involvement is part of the transportation development continuum.

This guide was created by Federal Highway Administration's Resource Center Planning Team in September 2008. It is intended to be updated periodically to keep up with current information. We welcome your suggestions or if you need additional assistance, you can contact Jocelyn Jones ( or Katiann Wong-Murillo (

Key Acronyms

FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FTA Federal Transit Administration
DOT State Department of Transportation
MPO Metropolitan Planning Organization
PPP Public Participation Plan
NHI National Highway Institute
NTI National Transit Institute
TRB Transportation Research Board
SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Public Law 109-59, 2005
AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
STIP Statewide Transportation Improvement Program
TIP (Metropolitan) Transportation Improvement Program
PI Public Involvement/Public Participation


Updated: 3/21/2013
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