Strategies for Effective Dialogue On Complex Transportation Issues And Decision-Making Processes with Communities Of Diverse Backgrounds

Focus Area

Environmental Justice


Community & Cultural Concerns, Environmental Process




Under $99k



Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes: Not recommended at present time by 2009 Subcommittee on Cultural Resources.

The research should be conducted in two phases. The first will identify innovative approaches for community education and dialogue that have been implemented effectively in other arenas that could be used by DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), cities, and counties. Second, techniques for effective engagement of diverse communities (e.g., religious groups, non- English speaking groups, the elderly, the disabled, and low-income and minority groups) should be identified and presented in case studies to ensure successful dialogue. Phase II should explore institutional barriers to implementation of these successful approaches and recommend methods for removing them.

Urgency and Payoff

Transportation has been identified as one of the issues of greatest citizen concern in surveys of communities across the country, yet there is a broad divergence in opinion concerning the causes of, and solutions for, transportation problems. On the whole, issues are addressed on a project-by- project basis rather than in a holistic community context. The issues are complex and cannot be understood through typical sound-bite information. More in-depth citizen education on transportation issues, including understanding of decision-making processes, is needed to facilitate a dialogue with communities, thereby leading to more consensus-based decision making. Citizens often adopt the view that “everything has already been decided,” because they don’t know who decides what and when. This education is challenging, and is often not performed or is done inadequately. This education process is complicated by the increasing cultural diversity within communities. The lack of cultural sensitivity by transportation professionals leads to a feeling of community disempowerment and a “disconnect” between community values and transportation decisions. Because of demographic changes, we need better information on how to interact with these populations and other underrepresented groups in transportation decision making.

Suggested By

Transportation Research Board 2002 Environmental Research Needs Conference Notes

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