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16 CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSIONS INTRODUCTION Going to other organizations and making presenta- tions; This section provides a summary of synthesis findings and is Holding a variety of small or one-on-one meetings; organized as follows: Utilizing a mixture of print and electronic media, on- line activities, and visualizations; and Context A mixture of print, electronic media, and websites. Findings The surveys show that there are similarities and differ- Conclusions ences in conducting public involvement among depart- Suggestions for Research. ment of transportation (DOT) respondents, among met- ropolitan planning organization (MPO) respondents, and between DOT and MPO respondents; however, most CONTEXT agree that the definition of successful public involvement The passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1950 created means getting informed consent from the public, provid- formally defined "public involvement," albeit limited to noti- ing equitable access to decision making and offering fication and information. Over the past 59 years, this narrow opportunities to provide input that is carefully considered definition has been expanded legislatively to increase empha- when the transportation decisions are made, acquiring a sis on effectively engaging the public in all phases of trans- better decision than what you set out to do, touching a portation decision making to integrate their issues, values, and typical set of the population, and getting meaningful preferences. Just as the process has changed, so have the input that results in a plan that reflects the priorities of racial, cultural, language, age, income, mobility, and other the community. As to the definition of effective public involvement there is some difference; however, on the demographic characteristics of the public, and the infor- definition of cost-effective public involvement there mation access provided by a myriad of communication is substantial difference, as DOT respondents noted that technologies and social networks. These changes and con- it cost whatever was necessary, and MPO respondents tinuing trends will challenge the abilities of large and small reported that it is money spent on human resources. The transportation agencies to provide a level of public involve- survey also shows that few of the respondents quantify ment that ensures equity and inclusiveness for all. As the the cost of doing public involvement or develop mea- respondents in this survey showed, many have found what sures of effectiveness for public involvement. they consider to be creative ways to provide successful, The best practices (tools, techniques, and examples effective, and cost-effective public involvement using lim- of their use) show that some agencies are creatively ited resources. engaging in effective public involvement using lim- ited resources, and many of the examples identify the FINDINGS processes and examples that the literature review iden- tifies, including: Based on the literature review, the 26 interviews conducted, Utilizing the Internet and intranet; and the best practices that respondents identified, there are Using visualizations; several key findings: Holding the meeting in the right place, on the right day, at the right time; The literature review of publications and websites high- Leveraging relationships; light processes and provide examples for identifying the Playing interactive games; public, tailoring an approach to that public, and imple- Taking the time to sit and listen; and, menting a plan that reflects the abilities and constraints Using public involvement programs. of that public to participate in public involvement. Included as among the most effective were: CONCLUSIONS A mixture of personal, face-to-face encounters with the public by piggybacking on events sponsored by Based on the literature review and survey responses from the other organizations; 26 agencies interviewed, the following areas stood out as