Citizen Participation and the Role of the Public Hearing

Report No: 75-R36

Published in 1975

About the report:

The study sought a detailed description of the public involvement techniques embraced in the public hearing strategy of each of the nation's state transportation agencies. In addition, it examined the status of the public hearing as a principal technique within the citizen participation process of each agency to determine how strong or weak a role the public hearing is playing within the transportation decision making process nationwide. Presented is an evaluation of the pre-hearing and post-hearing procedures being utilized by transportation agencies. Information for the study was obtained through interviews with the public hearing officer, or his equivalent in each highway and/or transportation department. Each officer was also asked to submit to the researcher written copies of his agency's public hearing strategy along with any other pertinent material regarding public hearings or citizen participation. The document most often received was the Action Plan. The study found that basically the nation's state transportation agencies utilize either one of two administrative operations for conducting public hearings. In 29 agencies the programs have centralized administrations whereby the majority of mandates emanate from the central office. In the remaining 21 agencies the responsibility for hearing administration is delegated to district or regional offices. The study also showed the existence of a growing trend for agencies to utilize independent moderators at public hearings, especially if the hearings are likely to produce controversy. Also, it was found that the most efficient and widely used pre-hearing technique is the informal pre-hearing meeting. The specifics of hearing/meeting notification and hearing structure and content are discussed in the report. The information gathered suggests that the nation's state transportation agencies are continuously striving to achieve meaningful public participation in transportation decision making through countless innovations and much experimentation.

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 5, 2024

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