Raleigh – The state transportation department recently wrapped up a public comment period for the next 10-year transportation plan with an unprecedented amount of participation from citizens. The agency credits this success to the use of an online, interactive survey tool that was specifically designed for the public to provide the department input on priorities, projects and concerns to help guide the development of the plan.
“We know people are busy, and it’s not always possible or convenient to attend meetings,” said Jamille Robbins, with the department’s public involvement group. “This new survey tool was designed to be quick and easy, and to allow citizens to be a part of the decision-making process from anywhere – sitting at their child’s baseball game, lounging by the pool or on their couch.”
More than 3,000 people attended public meetings or visited the webpage for information during the comment period, which took place from June 20 through July 22. Almost half of those people, 1,423, provided comments and responses, and 1,392 of them were through the interactive survey. By comparison, 160 people participated in similar meetings in 2015.
The Strategic Transportation Investments law, signed by Governor Pat McCrory in 2013, established a transparent, data-driven way to prioritize transportation projects. Under this law, the state is able to more efficiently invest transportation dollars to better connect North Carolinians and support more jobs. Public input is important, because the law also provides flexibility to fund regional and local projects through local input.
The N.C. Department of Transportation was the first in the nation to use the specifically designed tool, called MetroQuest, for this purpose. As part of Governor McCrory’s commitment to making government more efficient and accountable, the agency plans to use this tool on other projects to provide more opportunities for citizen participation.