A Look at the Public Involvement Procedures in Twelve State Transportation Agencies

Report No: 73-R64

Published in 1974

About the report:

Of the twenty-four Action Plans perused, several were very general in their approach to citizen participation while others were very specific. The twelve chosen for presentation here were the ones taking the most specific approaches. Although these twelve vary greatly with respect to their specificity, the states generally take two approaches to the public involvement procedures outlined in their Action Plans. One approach is that the Action Plan procedure provides for the immediate insertion of specific procedures into the total transportation planning process. Indeed, many states have developed very elaborate processes which are yet to be tried. There exists the possibility that too elaborate a process may be detrimental, especially if the agency finds that it cannot comply with its own policies and procedures. On the other hand, a very elaborate citizen participation procedure, if it works successfully, will certainly enhance the planning process considerably. The other approach is that of presenting a very general description of the major procedures to be used, while leaving many opening for the process insertions of specific processes as the occasion arises. Many states seem to feel that the amount and type of citizen participation to be used should be decided on a project-by-project basis. The Action Plans of such states contain only an acknowledgment that public involvement will be solicited and an indication of the points in the process that this participation will likely occur. Since this report seeks to present specific processes which may be of use to the Virginia Department of Highways in its citizen involvement program, the Action Plans containing such an approach are not reported on here. A few additional comments can be made about the Action Plans summarized in this report. Most call for a de-emphasis of public hearings. Indeed, many seem to look to the day that public hearings cease to exist. In their place are found public meetings which appear on paper to contain more of a two-way information exchange than do hearings. It appears that at this point many states are trying to relegate their public hearing to a mere formality. Also, the majority of states tend to agree that the most meaningful and most intense public involvement should occur during the corridor location stage. It seems that they realize this is the most important point in the development process at which the citizen should become involved. Generally, the public involvement procedures in most states' system planning stages do not differ much. Apparently a great many are having difficulty with this part of the public involvement process. Although many of the procedures appear very vague, most states are trying to do what they can to solicit involvement at the systems stage. It is agreed that even though this is the most difficult time to involve the citizen (since he can see no direct effect from the impending project), it is a very important stage in building public awareness, and efforts to gain participation at this stage should be continued.

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.


Other Authors

Michael A. Perfater

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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