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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.

Title:

An Assessment of the Virginia Department of Transportation's Public Involvement Practices and the Development of a Public Involvement Toolkit: Phase II
Authors:
Kyte, Cheryl A.
Arnold, E. D.
Amy A. O'Leary
Amy A. O'Leary
Michael A. Perfater
Year: 2003
VTRC No.: 03-R17
Abstract: Well-implemented public involvement programs have many potential benefits for transportation agencies including enhanced credibility with the public, decisions reflecting community values, and reduced risks of litigation (O'Connor et al., 2000). The objectives of this study included a broad assessment of the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT's) public involvement practices and the development of a public involvement "toolkit" for use by VDOT staff. The toolkit describes an array of techniques that may be used from the earliest planning stages of transportation projects through their construction, noting advantages, disadvantages, special considerations in the use of each technique, and references and website links for further reading. The assessment of VDOT's current public outreach practices included information gathering from citizens and VDOT staff. A total of 948 citizens attending several types of VDOT meetings and hearings completed written surveys that included questions about how they prefer to be notified about upcoming VDOT meetings, how they prefer to be informed about projects, and how they prefer to be updated on the status of plans or projects. Focus groups and written "self evaluation" surveys provided information on the perceptions of VDOT staff about the effectiveness of VDOT's public involvement approaches and their suggestions for improving communication with the public and public involvement ... Study recommendations include the following: VDOT staff should use the toolkit and a soon-to-be released interactive public involvement tool by the Federal Highway Administration to choose effective public involvement approaches; VDOT divisions should collaborate on ways to increase the public's understanding of the planning, project development, and public involvement processes; and as soon as the state budget situation permits, the Outreach Section of VDOT's Office of Public Affairs proposed by the Governor's Commission on Transportation Policy should be staffed to provide greater in-house strategic communications planning and evaluation capability for major projects.