The VTI National Transport Library Catalogue

Assessment of Virginia Department of Transportation's use of open-forum hearing format O'Leary, Amy A et al

By: O'Leary, Amy APublication details: Transportation Research Record, 2001Description: nr 1780, s. 121-8Subject(s): USA | Transport authority | Public participation | Method | | Choice | | Transport | Planning | 10 | 11Bibl.nr: VTI P8167:1780Location: Abstract: Citizens have higher expectations for meaningful involvement in decision making than ever before. The Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT's) use of the open-forum hearing format was assessed in response to pending legislation requiring the use of the traditional format for all highway location hearings. VDOT staff were concerned that substantial public input might be lost if this occurred. A comprehensive review of the literature on hearing formats, a survey completed by 235 citizens, and a survey on hearing formats completed by 84 transportation professionals representing 43 states are included. Citizens' preferences for the ways in which hearings are conducted--one-on-one interaction, flexible scheduling, and the opportunity to comment in private--supported VDOT's continued use of the open forum. The open-forum format does not, however, typically provide two features that some citizens want: the formal presentation about the project and the opportunity to hear the comments that others ("neighbors") make for the record. The open forum was also the format of choice among transportation professionals. It was rated more highly (often substantially more highly) than either the combined format or the traditional format on seven of eight dimensions included in the survey. The exception was "providing what interest groups seem to want." A compromise bill was engineered in the 2000 legislative session of Virginia's General Assembly that would require VDOT to incorporate a public comment component into a location hearing upon the request of the local governing body or 25 or more citizens.
Item type: Reports, conferences, monographs
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Citizens have higher expectations for meaningful involvement in decision making than ever before. The Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT's) use of the open-forum hearing format was assessed in response to pending legislation requiring the use of the traditional format for all highway location hearings. VDOT staff were concerned that substantial public input might be lost if this occurred. A comprehensive review of the literature on hearing formats, a survey completed by 235 citizens, and a survey on hearing formats completed by 84 transportation professionals representing 43 states are included. Citizens' preferences for the ways in which hearings are conducted--one-on-one interaction, flexible scheduling, and the opportunity to comment in private--supported VDOT's continued use of the open forum. The open-forum format does not, however, typically provide two features that some citizens want: the formal presentation about the project and the opportunity to hear the comments that others ("neighbors") make for the record. The open forum was also the format of choice among transportation professionals. It was rated more highly (often substantially more highly) than either the combined format or the traditional format on seven of eight dimensions included in the survey. The exception was "providing what interest groups seem to want." A compromise bill was engineered in the 2000 legislative session of Virginia's General Assembly that would require VDOT to incorporate a public comment component into a location hearing upon the request of the local governing body or 25 or more citizens.

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