Chapter 2. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION TOOLS AND ACTIVITIES

A number of Public Participation tools activities will be incorporated into the planning process. The matrix shown in Table 1 outlines stakeholders, issues and public involvement tools and strategies that may be incorporated during the study.

2.1. Study Committees

The FAQ page lists membership of the Implementation Task Force. The Transport 2020 Implementation Task Force provides policy oversight for the PE/NEPA study, in order to ensure that the study is adequately addressing the range of issues, policy choices and other study elements identified by the sponsoring agencies and included in the Consultant’s Scope of Services. The Implementation Task Force includes representatives of Dane County, the City of Madison, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Madison Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The ITF has also formed four subcommittees:

  • Finance and Governance Subcommittee
  • T2020 Management Team
  • Travel Modeling Subcommittee
  • Transit Operations Subcommittee

As appropriate, the study team will work closely with the ITF and their subcommittees.

2.2. Public Information Meetings

The first public information meeting will be the Scoping meeting, which is described more fully in Section 2.10. The Scoping meeting provides an early formal forum for the public to comment on the breadth of the study and initial information.

A second open house meeting will present Alternatives for public review and refinement. This is the second major event of the study for the general public, and the primary venue for multiple stakeholders to come together to review and help shape alternatives. The public will be able to directly engage planners, engineers, staff and officials in a dialogue concerning the Transport 2020 PE/EIS process and results to this point. Data and comments gathered at the open houses will directly affect the following phase of the study — the evaluation of Alternatives.

A third open house will be held at the evaluation phase of study. The open house meeting at this stage will have substantive information to present to the public, and will be an opportunity for citizens to understand the costs, benefits and impacts of the Alternatives and provide detailed comments on a draft LPA. The study team will provide comment forms for open house meetings and at other meetings if deemed appropriate. Summaries of responses will be shared among the study team.

2.3. Focus Groups

The study team will conduct up to four focus groups to provide an opportunity for specific populations to understand additional issues of importance. These are anticipated during the alternatives refinement phase, so there will be specific alternatives to weigh, rather than discuss abstract concepts. By conducting sessions with various groups, the team can clarify issues, opinions, and measure reaction to various alternatives. The focus group discussions of the relative merits of various proposals will thus be an indicator of project acceptability. Focus groups participants will likely include:

  • Development and real estate professionals
  • Elderly and disabled members of the community and individuals representing their interests
  • Low-income and transit-dependent populations, including youth and individuals representing their interests
  • Employers located in the LPA corridor or other corridors representing strong potential for high-capacity transit

2.4. Small-Group Meetings

The study team will work with the ITF to develop base presentations to be made to stakeholders throughout the study. Designed to present consistent, clear messages that answer the public’s questions and address their concerns as outlined in the preliminary stakeholder interviews, these presentations will be expanded and adjusted as more information is developed during the course of the study.

The presentation may be used as part of up to 60 small-group meetings during the preliminary definition of alignment alternatives phase. Less formal and structured than focus groups, the small-group meetings provide a way to gather input from more loosely-affiliated stakeholders, such as the members of civic organizations who may wish to learn about and comment on Transport 2020. These two-way conversations have the benefit of being relatively intimate and personalized, while also allowing for the dissemination of targeted information about the study.

At the evaluation phase, a second round of up to 15 meetings with neighborhood and other groups will help to inform the public of benefits, costs and impacts of the alternatives. These meetings are an important way for the project to bring information to various constituencies and to garner reactions.

2.5. Stakeholder Meetings

The study team will interview selected key stakeholders (such as the Mayors of Madison and Middleton, the Dane County Executive, and the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation) early in the project to identify issues, determine the best means of working with them, and tailor the public involvement approach to various constituents.

As the study progresses, the study team will continue to interview representatives from key stakeholder groups, including elected officials, business and neighborhood associations, and others. The information obtained at these meetings will enable the team to develop a list of frequently asked questions to be addressed in project presentations and in the scoping meetings, and establish relationships with stakeholder groups as we develop methods for public involvement outreach.

2.6. Walking Audits

The study will conduct up to 6 walking audits in the corridor, which help to define desirable characteristics of station area design. They provide an effective means for identifying pedestrian issues early in the planning process.

Because all transit trips begin and end with walking, careful consideration of pedestrian concerns and needs in station design can be essential to the success of a transit system. Walking Audits are a fun and effective way to engage community members, professional staff, elected officials, and other stakeholders when analyzing and planning pedestrian systems. Walking Audits also provide planners, engineers and decision-makers with a walker’s-eye view of the world, a view that often holds a number of “surprises” that cannot necessarily be predicted from conventional data analysis in pedestrian planning.

Identifying these “surprises” and incorporating stakeholder response to them is at the heart of any public participation plan. Walking audits are particularly effective because they are based on the best principles of public involvement: collaboration among a very broad base of stakeholders, physical as well as intellectual engagement with the built environment, and creative and imaginative thinking. Wisconsin has a history of success with Walking Audits -- they are the centerpiece of the Walking Workshop program administered by the planning and advocacy group Wisconsin Walks. The format for Walking Audits grew out of initiatives of the Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian Roadshow. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center characterizes the elements of a “typical” Walking Audit this way: “Although every walking audit is a little different, they usually include the following key elements:

  • A visual introduction to walkability drawing on national and local examples
  • A local presenter who describes particular local problem or situation
  • A walk in the community to identify good and bad conditions
  • A discussion of people's observations on the walk, and
  • Agreement on possible action items and/or proposed improvements”

Walking Audits work because they allow stakeholders to “show” the immediacy of their concerns rather than just “tell” them to planners. Accommodating 25-40 stakeholders – broad representation is essential, bringing together seniors and students, elected officials and commuters, neighbors and engineers – a Walking Audit usually lasts about 3 to 4 hours, and can be used to focus on specific geographic areas and/or specific issues; in order to be truly community-driven, it is important that the scope of any particular Audit is defined by the participants.

For the PE/NEPA phase of Transport 2020, walking audits would be a crucial tool to gather stakeholder input on the location and design of transit stations. Walking Audits provide an effective means for identifying pedestrian issues early in the planning process; because they rely on collaborative input from the most inclusive possible range of stakeholders, Walking Audits synthesize a range of viewpoints and concerns and lay the groundwork for joint problem-solving and consensus-building on priority issues for walkability.

2.7. Newsletters

The study team will prepare four newsletters during the course of the study, and each newsletter will be timed in conjunction with study milestones. They will precede the scoping meeting and open houses, and each will coincide with a major Web site update and a press release, providing similar information. The newsletter timing includes newsletters at the following key points:

  • Study Initiation. The first newsletter will introduce the draft Purpose and Need Statement and solicit input to help generate alternatives.
  • Detailed Alternatives. As the detailed alternatives are developed, a second newsletter will be prepared.
  • Evaluation. The third newsletter will present evaluation information regarding the final alternatives.
  • Public Hearing. The fourth newsletter will summarize analyses and will help to announce the public hearing.

As part of this task, the study team will review and update the mailing list and develop a database of interested parties that will be maintained throughout the project. The list will be updated for recently elected officials and will be checked for inclusion of various groups and stakeholder leadership. A separate e-distribution list will also be developed and maintained.

2.8. Web site

The Web site will be maintained with the posting of meeting information and project documentation at regular intervals, including updates to the Web site with substantial information at key project points, such as preparation for the scoping meeting. Comments received from the Internet will be summarized and shared with the technical team and the Implementation Task Force. The study team will monitor Web site activity, and regular reports will be provided to quantify Web traffic.

2.9. LPA Summary Video/Visualization

The team will develop a short video (estimated 5 minutes) summarizing the key findings of the project study and elements of the LPA. The team will incorporate images produced from Keyhole 2 PRO technology. The technology would be used to develop the flyover simulation of the study area environment and detailed alternatives. Up to four typical station area animations also will be developed.

2.10 Events

The team will seek and participate in up to 10 community events to further disseminate project information to the community.

2.11. Scoping Meeting

Scoping meetings are an opportunity to formally announce the study and to provide agencies, local governments, specific stakeholder groups and the general public an opportunity to identify key study issues. Input from this meeting will be used to refine the Purpose and Need, identify study issues, and develop transit alternatives.

In tandem with the agency scoping meeting, the study team will conduct an open house meeting for the public. Presentations at the public scoping meeting will be based on data gathered in the previous task’s preliminary stakeholder meetings. Data and comments generated by the scoping meetings will be used to define the extent of the study and to refine the study area and range of issues to be evaluated.

2.12. Public Hearing

DEIS results will be presented at a public hearing at the appropriate time. The team will staff an open house prior to the start of the official hearing to give attendees time to review the project. The official transcript and written material received on the project will be prepared for publication in the Final EIS.