Minnesota Department of Transportation
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 tickles 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.
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