Public Involvement Techniques
1.D - Taking Initial Action Steps
Getting started in public involvement need not be difficult. Here
are some steps an agency can take to organize a process that involves
people in transportation planning and project development:
- Determine what kinds of information are needed for and from
the public, when, and why.
Clearly define the goals and objectives of the public involvement
program—make them specific to the needs of the particular
transportation project or plan. Ask: Who is the public
for this venture? What information does the public need in order
to understand it? What kinds of information does the agency need
from the public? When in the process will this information be
most timely? In what ways will it be used to develop the best
possible project or plan?
- Meet with community members and key people to further refine
the goals and objectives.
Make initial contacts with people known to be interested in or
directly affected by an agencys proposal or planning process.
Include residents and businesses from the general area where improvements
are proposed. Include a representative sample of stakeholders
from throughout the planning region as well as the transportation
underserved and other hard-to-reach groups. Solicit initial comments
on the proposal itself, on who the appropriate target audience
is, and on how best to involve them in the process. These might
be individuals, community representatives, or special interest
groups (such as business, freight, and environmental organizations).
Document the input and note the reasons for specific approaches.
- Scan for stakeholders and potential participants.
Identify potential participants from a list of people likely to
be directly affected by a project or planning process. Include
special interest groups, other agencies, freight interests, community
leaders, the disability community, minorities and ethnic groups,
low-income people, and the poorly educated. Ask people to recommend
other potential participants or groups that represent the community
or specific interests.
- Build a contact list and mail introductory information.
Set up a contact list of potential participants that includes
their affiliations and notes their particular concerns. Welcome
them to the participation process. Describe the purposes and goals
of the project or planning program, provide an overview of the
ways people can become involved, and give date, time, and agenda
for initial meetings. Establish personal contact with those who
are unable to read a mailing.
- Organize participants who are intensely interested into core
groups, and establish means for others to participate as their
input is needed.
Offer people ways to participate that match their level of commitment.
Invite those who are highly involved to address specific tasks
or issues on a regular basis. Offer an array of other participation
options for people with less time or a lesser stake in the project
- Set up a first meeting. Choose a date or dates convenient
to the most participants. Consult community leaders for best times
and places for meetings. Notify the public and the media; send
a mailing to everyone on the contact list.
- Evaluate the approach with participant advisors.
Seek early feedback from community advisors to see if the public
involvement approach is working. Identify needed changes. Determine
the effectiveness of agency communication links.
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For more information about the TPCB program, contact Michelle
at FHWA (202-366-9206) or John Sprowls
at FTA (202-366-5362).