Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Blue Wooldridge


Federal, state and local laws entitle the public to have an active role in the transportation decision making process. However, it remains difficult to engage the public in the long range planning process. The laws requiring public involvement are intentionally vague and don’t prescribe specific approaches, so there is little consistency in public participation approaches and many state, regional, and local transportation agencies choose to do only what is necessary to meet minimum requirements (PBS&J, 2009). The purpose of this study is to examine public participation in transportation planning with specific focus on how the characteristics of public participation, the level of engagement, and deliberation affect the extent to which transportation planning decisions are reflective of public input received. A quantitatively driven mixed methods study was completed in three phases using secondary data, exclusively. Phase I included a review of each Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and a study of the public involvement procedures that were used to develop each MPO’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). Phase II focused on the input that was gathered by each MPO for public participation activities conducted during the development of the MTP. In Phase III, the results of Phases I and II were used to conduct a cross tabulation analysis to determine if there was a relationship between the characteristics of public participation, the level of engagement of participation, and the use of deliberation, and the degree to which public input was reflected in the MTP. The findings of this study indicate support for literature based in levels of engagement and the use of deliberation. Despite the design of the participation plan, transportation decisions reflect public input more often when MPOs have broad outreach to the public, higher levels of engagement, and use deliberative public participation techniques. Implications for policy and practice, and recommendations for future research are discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2013