Often, when people think about transportation planning, they focus on the things – the streets, intersections, traffic, the bicycle lanes, the trails, the sidewalks, the bridges, the buses, the trains. But transportation planning is really about the people, the residents and visitors that use these things as part of their daily lives. People who live in the communities and travel around the communities are the true experts in assessing the long‐term needs of the area based on their personal experiences and interactions with the transportation system.
Public Participation is the process that engages people and gives residents, workers, and visitors a voice in the long range planning process. Through this process, people are consulted and included in the decision-making process. Public Participation consists of three related, and often overlapping, processes: information dissemination, consultation, and participation. The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) has a long history of public participation and citizen involvement in regional and transportation planning initiatives, beginning in the 1970s, when federal mandates outlined the basics of public involvement in the regional decision-making process.
The DCHC MPO Public Involvement Policy (PIP) establishes an open decision making process whereby citizens have the opportunity to be involved in all stages of the transportation planning process. It is the policy of the DCHC MPO to have a proactive public involvement process that provides complete information, timely public notice, and full public access to DCHC MPO activities at all key stages in the decision making process. It is also DCHC-MPO policy to involve the public early in the planning process, and to actively seek out the involvement of communities most affected by particular plans or projects. Furthermore, it is a goal of the PIP that the MPO’s TIP, UPWP and transportation plans and programs be developed in a manner that assures that the public, and affected communities in particular, are afforded ample opportunity to participate in the development of such plans.