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Division of Planning
Office of Environmental Services
Environmental Policy

Public Involvement

Public Involvement is more than just a hearing, or one meeting near the end of the project development process. Public involvement is an early and continuing part of Picture of public meetingthe transportation and project development process. It is essential that the project sponsor knows the community's values in order to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts, as well as to narrow the field of alternatives (for planning) and alignments (for projects). The community also needs to understand the constraints and tradeoffs of the transportation planning and project development process and to "buy-in" to the transportation needs and purpose. 
Public Involvement allows the State, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, public transportation providers and resource agencies to know the impacts to the community from the transportation project as viewed by the community. Early and continuing public involvement allows the project sponsor to be aware of the problems and impacts and to deal with these issues early. In that way, attempts can be made so that the impacts can be avoided, minimized or otherwise designed in a manner acceptable to all parties involved. If involved early, the public can provide insight (directly or indirectly) into what their community would find acceptable in the way of mitigation. Often, there are designs or enhancements that will allow the project to fit more harmoniously into the existing community.

If the demographics, values, impacts, and desires of a community are made known early and on a continuing basis through an effective public involvement process in both the transportation planning and the project development processes, the project sponsor can better incorporate them into the design of the project. Design options can often also add enhancements into the project.


 FHWA's Public Involvement Requirements


State public involvement/public hearing procedures must provide for:

  • Coordination of public involvement activities and public hearings with the entire NEPA process.
  • Early and continuing opportunities during project development for the public to be involved in the identification of social, economic and environmental impacts, as well as impacts associated with relocation of individuals, groups or institutions.
  • One or more public hearings or the opportunity for hearing(s) to be held by the State highway agency at a convenient time and place for any Federal-aid project which requires significant amounts of right-of-way, substantially changes the layout or functions of connecting roadways or of the facility being improved, has a substantial adverse impact on abutting property, otherwise has a significant social, economic, environmental or other effect, or for which the FHWA determines that a public hearing is in the public interest.
  • Reasonable notice to the public of either a public hearing or the opportunity for a public hearing. Such notice will indicate the availability of explanatory information. The notice shall also provide information required to comply with public involvement requirements of other laws, Executive Orders and regulations.



 Guidance, Samples, Links


 Related Links to Federal Sites