The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) initiated an effort in 2004, with a grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), to look for better ways to plan, design, and build transportation projects. The goal was to develop an integrated process where information and decisions from long-range planning could be transmitted to, upheld, and used in project development. By identifying long-range transportation solutions that could be evaluated, detailed, and permitted for construction, NCDOT sought to reduce project delays while minimizing the impacts to the human and natural environments.
A multi-disciplinary team was assembled to determine the required data, decisions, public participation, and documentation for the transfer of information from comprehensive transportation planning (CTP) to project development. By framing the issue as a producer (CTP) and consumer/customer (Project Development) relationship, the team determined what information produced by long-range planners in the CTP process would be useful and acceptable to project planning engineers and resource agencies in project development. Eight linkages were identified where similar issues are discussed in both the long-range planning and project development processes. It is through these linkages that data, decisions, and information can be passed from long-range transportation planning to project development.
One of those critical linkages is public participation. For public participation to work effectively in both the CTP and project development processes and to build the connection between them, NCDOT is developing this public engagement toolkit to help facilitate the selection and effective use of techniques, to maximize the information flow between long-range planning and project development, and to create continuity for the public.
In addition to long-range planning and project development, the toolkit can be used for a broader array of public outreach for other types of planning, programs and communication efforts across all modes. As such, the toolkit can be used by throughout many functions and stages in the transportation planning, construction, maintenance and operations.