Using public involvement for highway projects

Posted in: Bridges, Highways, Municipal


Dustin presentingIn this two part series, we’ve talk about public involvement in highway projects; how it’s changing and how DOTs are using it effectively. If you missed part 1, check it out here.

Public involvement must stress involvement

This is especially true for highway projects. While community residents and businesses may support the project, they have very real concerns about the details. Stakeholders do not want to be “reported to.” They want, and frankly expect, to be included as partners in projects that impact them. For the project to be a success, the stakeholders must feel ownership over the project from the beginning. Often, this will result in design enhancements that enable the project to fit more harmoniously into the existing community.

Public involvement is an opportunity to educate both the public and the designer

The designer can make the stakeholders aware of the tradeoffs and constraints involved in the project. The federal criteria and requirements that the DOT must meet in the design of a highway need to be shared with stakeholders and the designer needs to be educated about the value and day-to-day functionality of the roadway to the community. Consistent dialogue with stakeholder groups will develop understanding and cultivate trust.

Meaningful public input provides the necessary local insights and feedback required to enhance project design. By engaging the public to identify key issues and objectives, public participation will lend credibility to the project, and most important, it provides the momentum for project success.


Dustin Wolff, AICP

About the Author

When he works on development and preservation plans, Dustin Wolff, AICP, keeps in mind that communities need to evolve. “Helping people shape their futures is a rewarding and humbling responsibility,” he says. “The built environment has a profound effect on our lives. Decisions we make today will be felt for years to come.” He also enjoys visiting cities around the U.S. to experience what makes them special.

Read more posts by Dustin Wolff, AICP