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15 CHAPTER four Successful Practices and Case Studies Five case studies were selected to highlight successful prac- issues in the region, the MPO employs the use of smaller tices in engaging advisory committees in transit planning and CACs for specific capital projects. operations. Care was taken to highlight practices for transit agencies and MPOs, project planning and operations, and TABLE 5 standing committees and ad hoc committees. Some case stud- CENTRAL CORRIDOR CAC HIGHLIGHTS ies are focused on a single committee experience while others Members 30 to 42 (varied over time) are a compilation of successful practices and lessons learned Open application process, selected by from many committees involved by an agency or MPO. Selection process Metropolitan Council staff; confirmed by Council chair The case studies were developed based on phone or in- Authority level Individual input person interviews with the contacts listed for each agency or MPO and responses to the survey. A questionnaire was Reporting Reports to Metropolitan Council via relationships CAC chair who is a Council member used to guide the case study interviews, but interviews were largely organic with a focus on each agency or MPO's area of Note: CAC = citizen advisory committee. innovation. A table highlighting the committee's size, selec- tion process, authority level, and reporting relationship is included with each case study. The project has included a robust public involvement pro- gram. In addition to a CAC, public involvement activities in the corridor have included public hearings, open house Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis/St. Paul, events, and extensive outreach using print-based, electronic, Minnesota: Reaching Out to People With and verbal communication methods. Different Backgrounds and Abilities Because the corridor passes through and will serve eth- Agency: Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis/St. Paul, nically diverse neighborhoods, the project hired a dedicated Minnesota team of multilingual community outreach coordinators to serve as liaisons between the Metropolitan Council and the Contact: Robin Caufman, Manager of Public Involvement community. These outreach coordinators, shown in Figure 3, support all aspects of the public involvement program by sup- Committee: Central Corridor Light Rail Project, Citizen porting the CAC and conducting targeted outreach in some- Advisory Committee times hard-to-reach immigrant and minority communities. Outreach coordinators are trained in facilitation and speak Overview a variety of languages, including Hmong, American Sign Language, Spanish, Vietnamese, and French. In addition The Central Corridor Light Rail Project will connect down- to providing meeting facilitation, outreach coordinators go town Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul with a new 11-mile door to door conducting additional outreach in non-English- light rail line and will serve some of the Minneapolis/St. speaking communities (especially where people are unlikely Paul region's most diverse neighborhoods. The Metropolitan or unable to make an evening CAC meeting). They also con- Council, the Twin Cities regional government and planning duct surveys, attend public meetings, and give presentations agency, is leading a public involvement effort to build and to local community groups. maintain public support for the project. Advisory Committee Approach The Metropolitan Council has been using CACs as a form of public involvement since the 1990s. In addition to their The Metropolitan Council established a CAC to provide standing Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee, advice for its Central Corridor Light Rail Project. The which focuses on general transportation policy and service CAC's scope is to promote public involvement and develop
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16 a project that is beneficial to communities. The committee In the first 6 months of the project, the CAC underwent provides input and feedback to project staff and the Met- a thorough and intensive training process. Members were ropolitan Council through the CAC chair, a Metropolitan familiarized with the project corridor, project staff and offi- Council member, on issues related to the planning, design, cials (including the Metro Council and project engineers), and construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail Project. their roles and responsibilities on the CAC, and the project's The CAC is a standing committee that meets on a regular Communication and Public Involvement Strategic Plan. monthly schedule. Each member was assigned a staff outreach coordinator who could answer questions and meet with the CAC member out- During its tenure, the Central Corridor CAC has ranged side of formal meetings. The outreach coordinators main- from 30 to 42 members who represent a variety of stakeholder tain an ongoing relationship with members, keeping them groups, including neighborhood associations, business repre- engaged throughout the process. Even with this structure, sentatives, advocacy groups, representatives of the disabled some members drop out over time because of changes in per- community, education institutions, ethnic communities, and sonal circumstances or interest in the project. The outreach religious organizations. Although having a CAC this large coordinators ease the transition of new members by provid- is a challenge, Robin Caufman said the size is necessary to ing training materials and a guided tour of the corridor. ensure adequate representation of stakeholder groups along an incredibly diverse project corridor. Approximately 40% CAC meetings are chaired by a Metropolitan Council of CAC members represent minority stakeholder groups that member. The role of the CAC chair is to serve as a conduit mirror the community's diversity. between the CAC and the Metropolitan Council (see Figure 4). The CAC officially reports to the Metropolitan Council CAC members are selected by the Metropolitan Council and the Central Corridor Management Committee, through through an open application process. When the CAC was the public involvement manager. Per the charter, the CAC first created, a matrix of potential stakeholders was devel- provides input and feedback on issues related to the plan- oped and vetted by project partners, local city and county ning, design, and construction of the light rail project. staff, community groups, and the Metropolitan Council. Although no cap was set on the maximum number of CAC The committee serves in an advisory capacity, providing members, efforts were made to ensure the greatest amount an important means for involving community groups and of stakeholder representation, while keeping the group to a facilitating public awareness. The committee does not make manageable size. According to Caufman, an advantage of decisions or group recommendations, but rather focuses on this stakeholder selection process has been that the Metro- identifying issues and sharing insights with project staff. politan Council is now much more familiar with the local According to Caufman, one of the benefits of this structure is community than it was before the project. that meetings can be less political and more technical: "Rather than focusing on voting yes or no on whether to build a tun- FIGURE 3 Project team outreach coordinators. Source: Metropolitan Council.