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FHWA/FTA Interim Policy on Public Involvement

     "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of
     society but the people themselves"-Thomas Jefferson

Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena's Strategic Plan
establishes the objective of putting people first in all of the
Department's endeavors.  Consistent with this objective, it is the
policy of the Federal Highway Administration (F and the Federal
Transit Administration (FTA) to aggressively support proactive
public involvement at all stages of planning and project
development.  State departments of transportation, metropolitan
planning organizations, and transportation providers are required
to develop, with the public, effective involvement processes which
are custom-tailored to local conditions.  The performance standards
for these proactive public involvement processes include early and
continuous involvement; reasonable public availability of technical
and other information; collaborative input on alternatives,
evaluation criteria and mitigation needs; open public meetings
where matters related to Federal-aid highway and transit programs
are being considered; and open access to the decision-making
process prior to closure.

To achieve these objectives, the FHWA and FTA commit to:

     - Promoting an active role for the public in the development
     of transportation plans, programs and projects from the early
     stages of the planning process through detailed project
     development.

     - Promoting the shared obligation of the public and decision
     makers to define goals and objectives for the State and/or
     metropolitan transportation system, to identify transportation
     and related problems, to develop alternatives to address the
     problems, and to evaluate the alternatives on the basis of
     collaboratively identified criteria.

     - Ensuring that, the public is actively involved in the
     development of public involvement procedures themselves in
     ways that go beyond commenting on drafts.

     - Strongly encouraging the State departments of
     transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and
     transportation providers to aggressively seek to identify and
     involve the affected and interested public, including those
     traditionally underserved by existing transportation systems
     and facilities.

     - Strongly encouraging planning and implementing agencies to
     use combinations of different public involvement techniques
     designed to meet the diverse needs of the general public. 

     - Sponsoring outreach, training, and technical assistance and
     providing information for Federal, State, regional, and local
     transportation agencies on effective public involvement
     procedures.  

     - Ensuring that statewide and metropolitan planning work          
     programs provide for effective public involvement.



     - Carefully evaluating public involvement processes and           
     procedures to assess their success at meeting the performance       
     requirements specified in the appropriate regulations during       
     our joint certification reviews, metropolitan planning and        
     conformity findings, State Transportation Improvement Program       
     (STIP) approvals and project oversight.





_______________________________    _______________________
Rodney E. Slater, Administrator    Gordon J. Linton, Administrator  
Federal Highway Administration     Federal Transit Administration

FHWA/FTA Questions and Answers on Public Involvement in
Transportation Decision-making


This guidance responds to questions raised during the eight
regional FHWA/FTA outreach meetings on the planning regulations (23
CFR 450) as well as at other meetings where the planning
regulations have been discussed.  The FHWA and FTA have established
a public docket as a single point for public input on this guidance
and the FHWA/FTA Interim Policy on Public Involvement.  Comments
this docket on guidance published in the Federal Register should be
received on or before April 30, 1995, at the following address:

                      FHWA Docket No. 94-27
                      Federal Highway Administration
                      Office of the Chief Counsel
                      400 Seventh Street, S.W.
                      Room 4232, HCC-10
                      Washington, C.C. 20590


1.   Why are changes in public involvement needed under the
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA)
and related policies and regulations?

Public involvement in transportation investment decisionmaking is
central to accomplishing the vision of the ISTEA.  The legislation
recognizes that transportation investment decisions have far-
reaching effects and thus it requires that metropolitan and
statewide transportation decisions consider a wide array of factors
including land use impacts and "the overall social, economic,
energy, and  environmental effects of transportation decisions" (23
U.S.C. 134(f) and 135(c)).  Many of these factors reflect community
values and are not easily quantifiable.  Public input is essential
in adequately considering them.

The legislation also recognizes the diversity of views on
transportation problems and investment options.  The ISTEA states
that, prior to adopting plans or programs, the MPO or State DOT
"shall provide citizens, affected public agencies, representatives
of transportation agency employees, private providers of
transportation, other affected employee representatives, and other
interested parties with a reasonable opportunity to comment" (23
U.S.C. 134 and 135).  Federal DOT policy and FHWA and FTA
regulations build on these principles by requiring MPOs and State
DOTs to establish their own continuing public involvement processes
which actively seek involvement throughout transportation
decisionmaking, from the earliest planning stages, including the
identification of the purpose and need, through the development of
the range of potential solutions, up to and including the decision
to implement specific solutions.  These regulations provide a basic
set of performance standards indicating what the FHWA and FTA
expect public involvement for plans, programs, major transportation
investments, and transportation projects to achieve.  In sum, the
ISTEA and its implementing reputations envision an open decision
making process



eliciting the input and active involvement of all affected
individuals, groups, and communities, and addressing the full range
of effects that the transportation investments may have on our
communities and our lives.

2.   What are some of the key considerations in planning for
effective public involvement?

An effective public involvement process provides for an open
exchange of information and ideas between the public and
transportation decisionmakers.  The overall objective of an area's
public involvement process is that it be proactive. provide
complete information timely public notice, full public access. to
key decisions, and opportunities for early and continuing
involvement (23 CFR 450.212(a) and 450.316(b)(1.))  It also
provides mechanisms for the agency or agencies to solicit. public
comments and ideas, identify circumstances and impacts which may
not have been known or anticipated by public, agencies, and, by
doing so, to build support among the public who are stakeholders in
transportation investments which impact their communities.

Six useful key elements in planning for effective public
involvement are: (1) Clearly-defined purpose and objectives for
initiating a public dialogue on transportation plans, programs, and
projects, (2) Identification of specifically who the affected
public and other stakeholder groups are with respect to the
plan(s), program(s), and project(s) under development, (3)
Identification of techniques for engaging the public in the
process, (4) Notification procedures which effectively target
affected groups, (5) Education and assistance techniques which
result in an accurate and full public understanding of the
Transportation problem, potential solutions, and obstacles and
opportunities within various solutions to the problem, and, (6)
Follow through by public agencies demonstrating that decisionmakers
seriously considered public input.

3.   What are the indicators of an effective public involvement
process?

A good indicator of an effective public involvement process is a
well informed public which feels it has opportunities to contribute
input into transportation decisionmaking processes through a broad
array of involvement opportunities at all stages of decisionmaking.
In contrast, an ineffective process is one that relies on one or
two public meetings or hearings to obtain input immediately prior
to decisionmaking on developed draft plans and programs.  Public
meetings that are well attended, frequent news coverage on
transportation issues, public forums where a broad representation
of diverse interests is in attendance, and plans, TIPS, MIS
alternatives, and project designs which reflect an understanding
and consideration of public input are all indicators that the
public involvement process is effective.
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4.  When should an agency update its public involvement process?

The planning regulations do not specify a schedule for updating
public involvement processes.  Rather, an existing process should
be updated whenever conditions indicate that it is ineffective. 
The enhanced focus on public involvement in the ISTEA and the need
for more proactive outreach than has been the case in the past,
however, necessitate an evolutionary approach.  The public
involvement process should be an integral part of an agency's
activities and its adequacy should be explicitly considered each
time an agency makes major program changes, initiates new studies
to identify solutions to transportation problems, and updates its
plans.

5.   How does the State DOT and/or MPO involve the public in
developing or revising the public involvement process?

Involving the public in the development or revision of public
involvement processes helps MPOs and State DOTs identify
involvement approaches that work.  Techniques for doing this
include: distributing easily understood materials explaining why
this involvement is important, holding focus groups on the
transportation decisionmaking process, brainstorming with the
public including members of the public who have not traditionally
been involved in transportation decisions, inviting the community
to participate in presentations on the short and long-term
transportation challenges the region or State faces, and making
presentations to civic organizations, senior citizens groups,
minority groups, and other public agencies who are stakeholders in
transportation decisions (i.e., health and human services
departments or economic development departments).

6.   Is the State DOT or MPO required to have a 45-day public
comment period on revisions to its currently adopted public
involvement process?

Yes.  The 45-day public comment period also applies to revisions to
an adopted public involvement process.  Processes adopted before
November 23, 1993, must be reviewed and appropriately updated so
they are consistent with the joint planning regulations but have
not been subjected to the 45 day comment period, the State DOT or
MPO must provide a 45-day comment period.

7. How do FHWA and FTA define the "Public"?

The ISTEA specifically identifies various segments of the public
and the transportation industry that must be given the opportunity
to participate, including "citizens, affected public agencies,
representatives of transportation agency employees, other affected
employee representatives, private providers of transportation and
other interested parties" (e.g., 23 U.S.C. 134(h)).  The FHWA and
FTA define the public broadly as including all individuals or
groups who are potentially affected by transportation decisions. 
This includes anyone who resides in, has interest in, or does
business in a given area which may be

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affected by transportation decisions.  The public includes both
individuals and organized groups.  In addition, it is important to
provide similar opportunities for the participation of all private
and public providers of transportation services, including, but not
limited to, the trucking and rail freight industries, rail
passenger industry, taxi cab operators, and all conventional and
unconventional transit service operators.  Finally, those persons
traditionally underserved by existing transportation systems such
as low income or minority households and the elderly should be
explicitly encouraged to participate in the public involvement
process.      

8.   How should an agency identify and address the transportation
needs of persons and groups who have been traditionally underserved
by existing transportation systems?

This presents a formidable challenge to transportation agencies
because these individuals and groups often do not have the
resources to travel to meetings, an ability to participate in
meetings scheduled during their work hours, or an understanding of
how or why to get involved in the transportation decisionmaking
process.

The identification of these groups and individuals also presents a
challenge.  Transportation agencies should begin by identifying
organized groups including persons with disabilities, agency
minority community groups, ethnic groups and organizations, and
Native Americans.  Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to
Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-
Income Populations" directs Federal agencies to conduct existing.
programs so as to identify and address disproportionately high and
adverse environmental effects on minority, low income, and Native
American communities.  Techniques and strategies to identify the
transportation underserved include: notices in non-English language
newspapers: public service announcements on radio stations which
tailor their Programming to non-English speaking Americans: and
fliers and notices on public involvement opportunities distributed
to senior citizens' centers, minority neighborhoods urban housing
projects.

Addressing the needs of these groups will require gaining a
thorough understanding both of why they have been traditionally
underserved and of what their current and future transportation
needs are.  Continuous interaction between these groups and
transportation professionals will be critical to better serving
their needs in the future.

9.   Who are the public and private providers and users of
unconventional transportation services and how should they be
included in the public involvement process?

Unconventional mass transportation services include school buses;
transportation for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and
children in Head Start; and other non-fixed route or unscheduled
transportation.  Both users and providers are members of the
general public.  Users of these unconventional transportation
services tend to be underserved by the mainstream transportation
system, and should be treated as such by the public involvement
process.  Traditionally, providers of unconventional transportation
are social service agencies

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providing specialized, dedicated transit services (e.g., vans or
buses) to fill gaps in the mobility needs of participants in
certain public and private programs.  These providers should be
approached similarly to other public agencies.  Their input should
be sought out on effective ways to address transportation problems
because they have experience in serving many of the traditionally
underserved which traditional transportation agencies may not have. 
Other public and private transportation providers, which ma or may
not be considered to be "conventional," similarly need to be
actively involved in MPO and State transportation decisionmaking. 
These may include trucking and rail freight carriers,
representatives of transportation employees, and representatives of
ports and airports.  The creation of special committees or advisory
groups may provide an organized structure to receive the input of
transportation industry groups on an ongoing basis.

10.  How do the public involvement requirements for project
development and the NEPA process apply to public involvement for
major transportation investment studies (MIS)?

An MPO's overall public involvement process should describe the
approach to be used to involve the public in any MIS conducted in
that metropolitan planning area, regardless of whether the lead
agency for the MIS is the MPO itself, the State DOT, or the transit
operator.  At the start of the interagency consultation, the
cooperating agencies need to tailor a specific public involvement
strategy for the MIS.  The strategy should engage the public in the
consideration of the purpose and need for a major investment as
well as in the development and evaluation of all alternatives.  If
the MIS incorporates development of a NEPA document, the public
involvement strategy must comply with the public involvement
provisions of 23 CFR Part 771 or 40 CFR Part 622.

11.  With respect to Federal Lands Agency projects (especially
Indian Reservation Roads projects), how can the State DOT and MPO
ensure that public involvement has taken place within the planning
process in the STIP/TIP?

First, it is necessary for the State and MPO to provide for active
involvement by the Federal Lands Agencies and Indian tribal
governments in statewide or metropolitan transportation planning
and programming.  Such involvement allows all participants to
coordinate plans and programs of projects under consideration by
the various implementing agencies.  However, when planning for the
involvement of Indian tribal governments. It is important for
agency staff to recognize and be sensitive to tribal customs and to
the nationally-recognized, sovereignty of tribal governments.  As a
result, tribal governments should be actively sought for
participation in the development of metropolitan and State plans
and programs as independent government bodies rather than as
specific minority groups.

Second, each of the Federal Lands Agencies has its own procedures
for transportation planning that comply with guidance from the
FHWA's Federal Lands Highway Office which administers the Federal
Lands Highway Program.  Public involvement may not always occur
during the development of transportation improvement programs for
each Federal Lands

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Agency or Indian tribe.  Therefore, while metropolitan area public
involvement on the metropolitan TIP can serve as a surrogate for
public involvement on the STIP for that area, no such assumption
can be made for a Federal Lands Agency or tribal TIP.  Because the
Federal Lands Agency or tribal public involvement process may not
satisfy the State DOT or MPO public involvement process for
transportation planning, the State DOT and MPO must determine
whether other public involvement measures are needed.

Third, the State and MPO (with FHWA and FTA field offices, as
appropriate) should work proactively with the Federal Lands
Agencies and Indian Tribal Governments to gain an understanding of
procedures regarding development of each agency's TIP.  These
procedures may vary considerably from agency to agency.  Areas to
examine include the schedule for TIP development; the format of the
TIP; and plans for meeting with various groups, members of the
public, and Tribal Governments during TIP development.

12.  Does reasonable public access to technical and policy
information include access to technical assumptions underlying the
planning and emissions models used in carrying out transportation
decisionmaking and air quality conformity determinations?

Yes.  Under the ISTEA and related regulations, the public must have
reasonable access to technical assumptions and specifications used
in planning and emissions models.  This includes access to input
assumptions such as population projections, land use projections,
fares, tolls, levels of service, the structure and specifications
of travel demand and other evaluation tools.  To the maximum extent
possible, all technical information should be made available in
formats which are easily accessible and understandable by the
general public.

Special requests for raw data, data in specific formats, or
requests for other information must be considered in terms of their
reasonableness with respect to preparation time and costs. Public
involvement procedures should include parameters for determining
reasonableness.  In order to facilitate public involvement yet
conserve limited staff resources, State DOTs and MPOs should
consider making information available to interested parties on a
regular basis through communication tools such as: reports,
electronic bulletin boards, computer disks, data compilations,
briefings, question and answer sessions, and telephone hotlines,
Reports or other written documents should be easily accessible to
the public in public libraries, educational institutions,
government offices, or other places and at times convenient to the
public.

When the public agency receives a request to perform an analysis
that it had not considered, the State DOT or MPO needs to make a
determination as to the reasonableness of the request.  If the
State DOT or MPO decides to perform the analysis, it should make
all relevant information available to all interested parties.  If
it decides not to include the analysis as part of its
transportation decisionmaking, it should respond to the request by
indicating why it decided not to do so.  The early involvement of
interested parties in the analytical process can facilitate early
agreement on the scope and range of analyses to be conducted by the
public agency.



                                     6



When agency staff conducts analyses that are not required for the
transportation planning process and on which non-Federal funds are
used, the agency is not obligated to make such information
available.  State DOTs and MPOs are encouraged to make such
information available, given the premise that transportation
decisionmaking is an open process.  Similarly, State DOTs and MPOs
should review State and local regulations which may mandate that
such information be made available to the public.

13.  How can State, DOTs and MPOs demonstrate "explicit
consideration and response to public input," as required by 23 CFR
450.212 and 23 CFR 450.316?

State DOTs and MPOs should incorporate input from the public into
decisionmaking, when warranted, with the understanding that not all
parties will get exactly what they want.  However, the public must
receive assurance that its input is valued and considered in
decisionmaking so that it feels that the time and energy expended
in getting involved is meaningful and worthwhile.  To do this,
State DOTs and MPOs should both maintain records of public
involvement activities, input, comments, and concerns as well as
document requests for information and responses to input received
during the public involvement process.  Agencies can keep records
and provide feedback in a variety of ways. Techniques for providing
feedback include: regularly published newsletters, special inserts
into general circulation newspapers, radio programs, telephone
hotlines with project updates, public access television programs,
and reports or publications describing how projects or programs are
progressing.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency's transportation
conformity regulations, (40 CFR 51), when an MPO receives
significant comments on a metropolitan transportation plan or TIP
from the public or through the interagency consultation process, it
must provide a summary, analysis, and report on how the comments
were responded to as part of the final metropolitan transportation
plan and TIP.

14.  What types of revisions to plans, TIPS, and STIPs do not
require additional opportunity for public comment and/or
publication under 23 CFR 450.316(b)(viii) and 23 CFR 450.212(d)?

Minor chances in plans, TIPS, and STIPs generally can be made after
the MPO or State DOT has completed its public comment process
without further opportunities for public involvement.  Examples may
include: minor changes in project scope or costs, and moving minor
or non-controversial projects among the first 3 years of the
TIP/STIP.  However, MPOs and State DOTs should identify what are to
be considered as minor changes, with the public, during the
development of the public involvement process.  What may appear to
be minor to the public agency may not be considered minor to the
public.  This gives the public the chance to provide input on these
definitions and for a common understanding on the public
involvement procedures to be used to deal with specific types of
changes to TIPs and STIPS.


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