Effective Public Involvement

By Matt Riddell

An Effective Public Involvement Plan is essential to providing the most efficient facilities for the users. The objective encompasses incorporating input from the local residents and develop context sensitive measures that satisfy the public’s interest.  Letting the public become “a part of the process” eases “selling” the project to the community.

Why Do Public Involvement?

  1. Required for most federally funded transportation projects
  2. Educates the public on the purpose and need of the project
  3. Getting public “buy-in” early achieves smoother projects and often lower costs
  4. Assists the Project Team in discovering important unknown information
  5. It’s the right thing to do!!!

5 Basic Steps


Create the Plan

  1. Plan Early
  2. Identify Purpose
  3. Assess Project History / Affected Communities
  4. Determine Outreach Approach
  5. Define Specific Action Steps

Identify the Stakeholders

  1. Make a list of potential stakeholders
  2. Involve the stakeholders to learn new information
  3. Meet with the stakeholders based on your plan

Provide Public Outreach

  1. Develop a project outreach database
  2. Utilize simple initial outreach methods
  3. Consider website outreach

Conduct Project-Based Activities

  1. Make it interesting
  2. Develop an appropriate agenda
  3. Be (or find) a good facilitator
  4. Consider a workshop format
  5. Bring creative exhibits that will grab public attention
  6. Wrap it up effectively

Use the Feedback

  1. Be a good listener
  2. Hold a Project Team meeting to review the feedback
  3. Determine the actions for using the feedback


Often, the concerned public cannot adequately ascertain the limits and scope of a project by looking at a 2D set of plans. Therefore, I often provide visuals that allow the public to understand what we are proposing to build. Project renderings, videos and Virtual Reality are all excellent tools with which I have had great success. Below is a rendering example:


It’s the right thing and the best thing to do!!!

⇒People value being heard

⇒Typically, the public becomes a problem when not informed or listened to

⇒The more opportunities you provide to educate/listen, the more success you will have

⇒Think Informed Consent. Informed + Heard often = Consent

3 thoughts on “Effective Public Involvement

  1. Providing 3D renderings and other visuals is essential in helping those involved truly fathom the scope of work and make informed decisions regarding projects in their communities. Very impressive.


Comments are closed.