The state of the practice for outreach and engagement in transportation planning and programming processes has advanced significantly beyond 30-day public comment periods, one-time public hearings held in government offices, and public notices posted only in newspapers and on public bulletin boards. Technology has enabled new pathways for residents to connect with the people responsible for the transportation system, but many people continue to experience barriers to productively engaging with the public planning processes.

The demographics of those engaged in planning processes may not necessarily reflect the demographics of the affected community; often low-income residents have work schedules that make participation in traditional planning processes difficult. People with disabilities may face transportation or other barriers to participation in planning processes. Also, low-income communities, people of color, and immigrants have valid and historic reasons to limit their exposure to government. And while the digital divide has narrowed in recent years, some populations continue to have inadequate Internet access. Therefore, it is increasingly important that CMAP and other transportation agencies redouble their public engagement. Practices to emphasize include exploring and deploying new culturally relevant outreach methods to assess the transportation-related needs, values, and attitudes among low-income communities, people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities; allowing for more localized ownership of the planning process; and establishing performance measures that track progress toward reflecting community demographics.

Action 1

Convene partners to collaboratively develop and disseminate improved practices in the region.



Action 2

Invest in the development of culturally-relevant outreach methods, establish performance measures that track progress towards reflecting community demographics, and demonstrate the impact of public engagement on project outcomes.


Transportation agencies and local governments

Action 3

Evaluate the Bureau of Design and Environment manual and identify opportunities to further support inclusive public engagement.


Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)