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5 CHAPTER two Literature Review and Public Involvement Regulations Public Involvement Requirements for Public involvement to be early and proactive Transit Agencies and Metropolitan Planning Timely information to be provided to the public Organizations Explicit consideration to be given to the public input collected Public involvement is a relatively young field, but it is one Traditionally underserved populations to be actively that has increased in sophistication since its inception. sought out and included. Today, public involvement specialists are commonly found on the staff at transportation agencies and project teams. A In 2005, Section 6002 of the Safe, Accountable, Flex- series of federal statutes and regulations direct how public ible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act--a Legacy involvement is conducted by states, and metropolitan and for Users (SAFETEA-LU) added requirements for public rural planning organizations. Some policies relate specifi- involvement and agency coordination, particularly during cally to public involvement for plans and projects, while oth- the project development process, by requiring agencies to ers relate to any activity undertaken by a public agency. provide the public an "opportunity for involvement" when developing purpose and need statements and project alter- Planning coordination requirements pursuant to Section natives. Advisory committees are specifically noted as a 1308 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century public involvement technique that can be used to meet these (TEA-21) first encouraged public transportation agencies to requirements (5). coordinate with statewide and regional transportation plan- ning efforts. This provided an incentive for transit agencies In addition, transit agencies, MPOs, and other agencies to use state and regional public involvement requirements as receiving federal funds for transit projects are required to models for the development of public involvement programs comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Executive for their transportation planning studies (2). TEA-21 has Order 12898, Environmental Justice. Title VI prohibits recip- been replaced by subsequent legislation, but it is important ients of federal funding from discriminating on grounds of because it provided the foundation for federally mandated race, color, or national origin. Executive Order No. 12898 public involvement in transportation planning. requires federal agencies to consider the impacts of federal actions on minority and low-income communities. These In 1999, the FHWA and FTA issued a joint interim policy requirements influence the design of public involvement pro- on public involvement to clarify requirements of the 1991 grams and the implementation of those plans. For example, Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act (ISTEA). environmental justice and Title VI considerations may affect This policy encourages MPOs and transit agencies to develop the format of meetings and where meetings are held, while locally appropriate public involvement plans, and provides also influencing the committee's membership (5). the following guidance: Taken together, these regulations represent a strong fed- State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and transportation providers are eral commitment to public participation in decision making. required to develop, with the public, effective involvement This commitment has influenced public expectations about processes which are custom-tailored to local conditions. involvement opportunities and standard procedures at many The performance standards for these proactive public agencies. The federal guidance allows for a wide range of involvement processes include early and continuous involvement; reasonable public availability of technical public involvement approaches tailored to local needs. The and other information; collaborative input on alternatives, guidance does not require specific meeting types, tools, or evaluation criteria and mitigation needs; open public techniques in most cases, except the use of visualization tech- meetings where matters related to Federal-aid highway and niques, which is required of every federally funded project. transit programs are being considered; and open access to the decision-making process prior to closure (3). Despite this lack of top-down specification regarding public involvement tools, advisory committees are a commonly used method to involve community members in decisions The interim policy included general performance stan- about transit planning and operations. Advisory committees dards that require the following (4): offer a somewhat unique forum for continuous involvement,