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Section 3: Public Meeting(s)

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Overview

This section discusses obtaining public input on a project and incorporating that input into the project's design. Input from a public meeting can reveal concerns and issues that are not readily apparent, and give the designer an opportunity to address them during project development. Public meetings are not federally mandated and are less formal than public hearings.

This section includes the following tasks listed in chronological order.

2260. Conduct public meeting

2270. Revise design based on public input

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2260: Conduct public meeting

Description. A public meeting provides an opportunity for the public to engage in a free exchange of views and ideas and to raise individual concerns. Public meetings may be conducted numerous times throughout the project development process. At least one public meeting must be held during the drafting of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Details and requirements of public meetings are in the TxDOT Environmental Manual.

Preparation for a public meeting should include advance notification to ensure that the public is made aware of the project planning and development process and to ensure full public involvement.

Pertinent Project Types. New construction and reconstruction projects and other projects as determined by the Director of Transportation Planning and Development. Public meetings can be held for all project types.

Responsible Party. Project manager

Sub-tasks.

  • If the project is within a Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO's) area, the MPO's public involvement requirements must be checked. MPO requirements may be different from TxDOT's in areas such as required notification procedures, mailing lists, or number of meetings.
  • Prepare exhibits for the meeting.
  • Review the address list of interested individuals and groups.
  • Prepare mailing lists for meetings.
  • Determine staff requirements.
  • Identify meeting date and location. When selecting a meeting location, ensure the site is accessible to persons with disabilities, including the restrooms and parking.
  • Arrange for audio/visual recording equipment, or court reporter. A public address system may be necessary, even in moderately sized rooms, to ensure that those with hearing impairments (including many elderly individuals) can hear what is being discussed. Many citizens will not make such a request in advance and may be reluctant to request special accommodations.
  • Advertise meeting; preferably, this is done 30 days and, again, 10 days before the meeting.
  • Prepare presentation speeches.
  • Review exhibits and presentations.
  • Conduct meeting.
  • Summarize and analyze input received at the meeting and input furnished in writing after the meeting.
  • Prepare responses to public input.
  • Gain response approval from advanced project development engineer.
  • Review responses with stakeholders, as needed. Stakeholders may include property owners, resource agencies, local government officials, homeowner's associations, and local business organizations.
  • Submit summary analysis and comment and response report to the district environmental coordinator.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • Coordinate the planning and conduct of the public meeting with the district public information officer.
  • Public meetings are an effective method of obtaining public support for a project and may help avoid controversial public hearings later in project development.
  • On complex projects, holding an “open house” for several hours before the meeting allows the public a better opportunity to understand the proposed improvements and make more meaningful comments.
  • If the project is in an area with a predominant population of non-English speaking individuals, consider publishing meeting notices in English and the predominant non-English language. Also, consider having an interpreter at the meeting.
  • Gain response approval from the advanced project development engineer before conducting coordination with stakeholders.
  • Although Design Division review and approval of a schematic is not required before showing a schematic at a public meeting, coordination with the Design Division is recommended - especially for projects where design exceptions are anticipated.

Critical Sequencing. Public meeting(s) should be conducted after the geometric schematic is developed but before it is submitted to the Design Division for approval.

Resource Material. TxDOT Environmental Manual

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2270: Revise design based on public input

Description. Preliminary designs may need to be revised after public meetings are held and input is gathered.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects where public involvement is sought.

Responsible Party. Project manager

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