An Assessment of the Virginia Department of Transportation's Public Involvement Processes: Phase I Results

Report No: 00-TAR2

Published in 1999

About the report:

Citizens have higher expectations for meaningful involvement in transportation decision making than ever before. Interest in an assessment of the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT's) public involvement practices has originated from several sources. First, VDOT's top leadership is interested in a "tool kit," or an inventory, of current "best practices" in public involvement. Second, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission's 1998 report on the highway location process in Virginia made a number of observations and suggestions about VDOT's public involvement practices. Most recently, the passage of Senate Bill 1198 (SB 1198) called attention to the open forum format VDOT uses most often for its location and design public hearings. To address these information needs, the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) developed a plan for a two-phase study of VDOT's public involvement practices. Phase I, summarized in this report, focused primarily on hearing formats and related issues. Phase II will take a much broader, more comprehensive look at all of VDOT's public involvement practices, beginning with the earliest planning stages. The results of the Phase II analysis will be summarized in one or more future reports. A 10-member project task group, with broad representation from VDOT divisions and districts and the Federal Highway Administration, will guide the VTRC's efforts during the study. The Phase I study of hearing formats and related issues reported here included a comprehensive review of the literature, a written survey for public involvement professionals in the 50 states, and a written survey for citizens attending three VDOT public hearings in 1999 (the Meadowcreek Parkway design hearing, the Capital Beltway citizen information workshops, and the Indian River Road location hearings). Two of the three projects (Meadowcreek and Capital Beltway) are controversial. Results of a previous citizen "exit survey" conducted at VDOT public hearings in 1995 and 1996 by VDOT's Location & Design Division's Public Involvement Section were also reviewed, as were several years' worth of attendance data and comments from VDOT location and design public hearings.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Authors

Other Authors

E. D. Arnold, Cheryl A. Kyte, Amy A. O'Leary, Ph.D., Michael A. Perfater

Last updated: December 11, 2023

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