• CAC Opponent Becomes a Project Defender

    ​For a project for FHWA Eastern Federal Land Highway Division, we prepared designs and an EA/FONSI for several new parking lots and new circulators for Historic Mount Vernon in Virginia. As part of our public outreach program, a Citizen Advisory Committee was created. The CAC was comprised of residents in the adjacent neigborhoods, key community representatives, and Mount Vernon staff. The neighborhoods were initially opposed to most of the designs proposed by the project team because of concerns about noise and visual impacts, as well as because of anticipated changes in traffic patterns on the nearby streets. Through the life of the project, we met with the CAC many times, regularly considering new or revised alternatives to address their input and fully explaining to them our process and conclusions. By the final full public meeting, when another citizen spoke against the project during the question and answer period, our previously most vocal opponent stood from his seat in the audience and defended the project. Although he still would have preferred for the project not to be built, he told the rest of the audience that our process had been thorough and that the selected alternative was the best option of the many that had been considered. This support from the CAC was an effective response to the other citizens, and we received no notable opposition against the project at the end. 

 Lessons Learned using Primary Technique:

  • Civic (Stakeholder/Citizen) Advisory Committees


​By meeting regularly with a diverse CAC, several members whom were initially opposed to the project, we were able to dig into the project details in a way that gave us a better product for the community. By the end, the CAC members saw themselves as part of the project team.


​The primary disadvantage of this technique was the additional time and cost it took to meet with the CAC, and to consider additional alternatives based on their input. 


​Although a CAC is not necessary for every project, it can be extremely effective and worth the cost. It would be primarily useful for projects that are most impactful to the community, especially to a cohesive and/or historically underrepresented community. 

 Project Attributes

Project Primary Purpose
Mobility/System Efficiency
Target Communities
Established Neighborhood, Suburban
Target Populations
Local Roadway or Interchange

 Primary Technique

  • Civic (Stakeholder/Citizen) Advisory Committees

 Other Techniques used

  • 63;#Open Houses/Open Forum Hearings ;#78;#Site Visits

 Contact Info

Teresa Gresham
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