Methods to Engage Stakeholders to Improve Environmental Consultation Process Informing the Long Range Transportation Plan

Margaret Minzner, Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments
Topic Area
Planning for Transportation Ecology

The Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana (OKI) Regional Council of Governments is responsible for conducting environmental consultations to inform the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). As a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), this required process compares transportation plans with identified state conserved/protected environmental resources.

Environmental consultations bring along new insights to transportation planning. Intending to result in better, more efficient transportation decisions, these consultations aid by reducing the amount of negative environmental impact as well as lowering costs for improving transportation and development. The deepened understanding of the dynamics between transportation and greenspace can likewise help provide ideas and expand the opportunity for transportation to advance sustainable development.

Every 4 years, OKI updates the LRTP and conducts environmental consultations. OKI strives to advance the process to elicit more meaningful response. During the last round of environmental consultations in 2014, OKI staff employed technology to improve engagement. Instead of the series of meetings conducted in the past, staff used multiple methods: presenting a webinar, conducted online surveys, and provided an interactive online map of significant environmental resources (Environmental Resources Viewer), and finalized with an in-person meeting.

For this round of consultations OKI staff has implemented new approaches. Staff is addressing Resilience and Climate Change by bringing presentations from experts at the beginning of the consultations and adding input from additional stakeholder groups. OKI is also expanding the tools of the Environmental Resources Viewer to allow stakeholders to add comment to the online map and indicate areas of interest/concern. Finally, OKI is surveying stakeholders to assess use and feedback on the Environmental Resources Viewer for future updates and improvements.

This presentation will review our past environmental consultation approaches and how our updated methodology supports improved engagement with more varied stakeholders concentrating on current environmental concerns. Technology enhancements to the Environmental Resources Viewer will be discussed along with recommendations for future applications.

Abstract Keywords
Long Range Plan
Stakeholder Engagement
GIS Viewer