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Idaho Transportation Department and Utah Department of Transportation Public Outreach Planner (POP)

Idaho Transportation Department POP

Determining the appropriate budget, staffing needs, tools and techniques to execute an effective public involvement process as part of early transportation decision making is a goal shared by most transportation professionals. How to make those determinations, often with little to no background in the public involvement field, can be a challenge to agency professionals. The Langdon Group (TLG), in cooperation with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), customized and expanded a process originally developed by TLG for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) that allows ITD staff to quickly and easily quantify a recommended level of public involvement for a range of transportation impacts. Through a series of customized multiple-choice questions, the Public Outreach Planner (POP) guides the user to a POP Level of 1 through 5. Each level provides recommended budget estimates, staffing needs and appropriate tools and techniques for various types of transportation impacts.

The POP is an interactive online tool that has seamlessly integrated with existing ITD processes, manuals and guides to help ensure that public involvement is considered and accounted for at all phases of a transportation decision-making process. Through the POP, users can not only determine what public involvement methods and tools are the best fit for their project and budget, but they can learn more about how to effectively design, develop and execute them.

Four POP tracks, questions, budget estimates and outreach techniques were conceptualized and fine-tuned organically through a combination of internal expert knowledge and outreach workshops with ITD staff in all six ITD district offices. The “Live” POP lives entirely online and allows the user to quickly and easily navigate from the homepage to the appropriate worksheet, through the supporting documents and ultimately the ITD Guide to Public Involvement where they can learn more about the various tools and techniques suggested for their level of effort.


Utah Department of Transportation POP

In 2009, a new Federal guideline was released that required project teams to address public involvement earlier in the project development process. To meet this requirement, UDOT hired The Langdon Group to develop a process for assessing the level of public involvement needed for projects. Working closely with UDOT staff, TLG developed the tool now known as the Project Outreach Planner (POP). The tool is based on an 11-question worksheet that allows project teams to analyze a wide cross-section of issues related to public involvement. This analysis translates to a POP level, which can then be used to determine: how a project might be staffed; what tools might be implemented for each project phase; and how much money may be required to make public involvement successful. TLG worked closely with UDOT leadership, project development staff, and UDOT Regions to implement the POP statewide.

In 2012, UDOT conducted a second round of check-up workshops in each region to determine if the POP was useful, how it was being used and by whom. Through this process an updated POP emerged that included two unique worksheets tailored specifically for pre-construction and construction phases. Information was also updated to reflect current budgets estimates for every phase and the latest technology in public outreach tools. The current POP was also redesigned to be more easily navigable, much like a website.

To view the POP, click here.