Stakeholder Attitudes, Knowledge and Engagement in Local Road Systems Planning and Decision Making
Guillermo Narvaez, Kathryn S Quick
Report no. MnDOT 2017-39
Political and policy dynamics associated with local road systems planning, management, and financing merit special attention. This study: 1) analyzes stakeholder attitudes, knowledge, and engagement about financing for local road system management, to identify key gaps and conflicts, and 2) evaluates public communication and engagement methods, to provide practical guidance for improving stakeholder engagement methods. Qualitative research methods were used because they are particularly apt for studying stakeholder attitudes towards policies and outreach methods. Data sources included a survey of 128 local public works leaders; content analysis of 198 articles from local to national media; 30 hours of observation of deliberations in the state and local legislatures; 22 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders; and 4 case studies of local public communication and engagement processes. Analysis of these data support the following recommendations for local policy makers: a) Support rising public attention to local transportation issues with high-quality, accessible information; b) Invest in the high short-term costs of proactive, good quality engagement, to gain substantial benefits over the longer term; c) Use multiple communication channels, including new technologies for targeted outreach; d) Employ a consultative process and thoughtful, timely explanations from local public works leaders, to improve stakeholder satisfaction with project outcomes and the engagement process; and e) Include stakeholders in defining the policy problem and developing options as well as the preferred policy options.