Transportation practitioners have the power and obligation to incorporate the voices of their communities in transportation decision-making. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) developed Promising Practices for Meaningful Public Involvement in Transportation Decision-Making to help funding recipients meaningfully involve the public in various stages of transportation decision-making and build their organizational capacity to do so. Public involvement from the beginning and throughout a project’s lifecycle has the potential to help projects come to life faster and to better meet the needs of the community. This set of promising practices provides a shared definition of meaningful public involvement and promising practices to help address barriers to inclusion in transportation decision-making.
What is Meaningful Public Involvement?
The Department defines meaningful public involvement as a process that proactively seeks full representation from the community, considers public comments and feedback, and incorporates that feedback into a project, program, or plan. The impact of community contributions encourages early and continuous public involvement and brings diverse viewpoints and values into the transportation decision-making process. This process enables the community and agencies to make better-informed decisions through collaborative efforts.
The Department considers the guide a living document and welcomes feedback and real-life examples of funding recipients that have been able to implement these practices. We are accepting public comments on the guide via docket DOT-OST-2022-0115 to inform potential future updates. When submitting feedback, please specify the relevant page number(s). When submitting a real-life example of meaningful public involvement using these and other techniques, please include the following information:
- Name of organization that conducted the public involvement
- Technique(s) used
- Intended audience
- When the outreach occurred (e.g., Spring 2021)
- Description of outreach (How was the technique used? What was the outcome? How did you know it was successful?)
- Link to webpage with more information
- Contact information
As discussed in the guide, public involvement costs should be included in project budgets. They can also be supported through other Federal formula funds that State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, or transit agencies may receive. On the DOT Navigator, you can now find a new set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you understand what types of costs may be eligible for public involvement activities.
Over the coming months, the Department will be offering training and technical assistance around this guide.
In Fall 2022, USDOT hosted virtual pilot training sessions for practitioners to learn more about the guide and how it may support your related work. We appreciate feedback received from our pilot training participants and interest from others who joined the wait list for future trainings. We will share more information in summer 2023.
Please send any related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “Public Involvement Training.”