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Public Participation Plan – 2024 Update

U.S. DOT Equity Action Plan

In 2021, the Biden Administration enacted two Executive Orders aimed at advancing equity across all federal agencies. As a leader in this initiative, the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) was one of the first federal agencies to finalize their Equity Action Plan 2022. Five pillars were emphasized in the 2023 updated Equity Action Plan:

  1. Wealth Creation
  2. Power of Community
  3. Proactive Interventions, Planning, and Capacity Building
  4. Expanding Access
  5. Institutionalizing Equity

Building on this momentum, U.S. DOT issued additional guidance through “Promising Practices for Meaningful Public Involvement in Transportation Decision Making.” This report offers significant direction into avoiding common pitfalls of checking the box in public engagement. Learn more about the national efforts shaping our work by exploring the U.S. DOT Equity Action Plan.

ARC is currently updating the agency’s Public Participation Plan (PPP) in accordance with the federal regulations governing interested parties, participation, and consultation activities of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (23 CFR 450.316). The PPP will reflect new federal laws, requirements and guidance concerning equity and engagement, and will significantly update and replace ARC’s 2019 Regional Transportation Community Engagement Plan.

ARC is committed to ensuring that stakeholders have a say about what participation should look like. To that end, we have developed a program of activities designed to help us listen to people to learn how they want to participate in the transportation planning process and other agency activities.

This work is being conducted by BRG Consulting, in partnership with Nickel Works Consulting and Fairpointe Planning.

What does meaningful engagement look like for you?

Regional Equity and Inclusion

In response to national efforts to advance equity, the Atlanta Regional Commission launched its own investigation into the State of Equitable Engagement for the region. This effort is led by a dedicated consultant team, tasked with the following:

  • Expand the Regional Stakeholder Network:
    enhancing ARC’s outreach quality by identifying key contacts across federally required stakeholder categories.
  • Conduct Equity Focus Groups:
    engaging diverse stakeholders to gather direct feedback into the transportation planning and engagement process.
  • Updating the MPO Participation Plan:
    Provide clear public notification of participation activities and ample review periods in MPO transportation planning processes per federal requirements.
  • Developing a Community Engagement Strategy:
    Crafting approaches that ensure all community members can influence and benefit from regional planning efforts

For more details on the federal policy initiatives driving this work, see the summary of the U.S. DOT Equity Action Plan below.

Regional Stakeholder Network

Navigating the intricate fabric that is the 20-county transportation planning area, demands a nuanced approach. With this in mind, we are taking a thorough assessment to strengthen and expand our quality of outreach, ensuring the process is as diverse as the communities themselves. Our research identified key contacts spanning twelve stakeholder categories, culminating in a vetted regional stakeholder network of nearly 350 trusted agencies, transportation providers and organizations advocating for the nine federally protected classes.

This curated list isn’t just a database or directory — it is a bridge to deeper, more inclusive community dialogues. Leaving behind a one-size-fits all approach to outreach, to adopt authentic, community driven approaches.

Equity Focus Groups

To better understand engagement needs of the diverse populations living in the 20-county transportation planning area a series of Equity Focus Groups were organized. These focus groups are designed to serve as a collaborative hub of ideas to move us forward on the following objectives:

  • Understand community wants and needs
  • Expand community representation and seek out leaders who can bring a breadth of perspectives to the conversation
  • Identify the communities preferred engagement practices

Insights gained from Equity Focus Group members will inform outreach efforts for the 2024 update of the MPO Participation Plan. The experiences and knowledge shared will refine our outreach methods and will be a guiding light for ARC’s overarching Community Engagement Strategy.

Overview of Focus Groups

These focus groups ensure diverse perspectives are included, addressing the unique needs and experiences of communities protected under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Here is a list of Focus Group Communities:

  • Veterans
  • Small + Disadvantaged Businesses
  • Ethnic Minorities
  • Women
  • Foreign born
  • Youth
  • People with Disabilities
  • Low-Income
  • Limited English Proficiency
  • Older Adults

To be part of this transformative process, or to nominate someone whose voice should be heard, reach out to us at publicinput@atlantaregional.com.

MPO Participation Plan

Under the guidance of the Federal Highway (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administrations (FTA), the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) adheres to regulations that guide the public participation process for Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organizations (MPOs). These regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under title 23 for highways and title 49 for transportation  (23 CFR Part 450.316 and 49 CFR Part 613.300).

The Participation Plan comprises of ten requirements that set the stage for the minimum actions necessary to facilitate involvement of the public. The CFR mandates clear public notification of participation activities, which requires a mandatory 45-day public review and comment period. This MTPs and TIP follow the process outlined for public involvement, review and comment.

Schedule of Engagement Activities

We are excited to present the schedule of outreach activities critical to developing the MPO Participation Plan, as shared below. This schedule will be updated accordingly:

MonthActivity
MaySurvey Opens
June-AugustTarget Stakeholder Engagement
AugustDraft Participation Plan available for review
August-October45-Day Public Review and Comment
September-OctoberPublic Hearings
NovemberARC Board to consider Adoptions

Note: Although this timeline is linear, stakeholder engagement is welcome and occurs ongoingly. The timeline highlights a particular period of increased engagement efforts.

Community Engagement Strategy

The Transportation Planning Department’s (TPD) work at ARC extends well beyond the two federally required planning documents mentioned above on this page (link to section above) – the MTP and TIP.  TPD delivers a wider spectrum of specialized transportation planning initiatives that fit the diverse needs of a growing region. Recognizing this need for tailored approaches to serve the region, we are embarking on the development of Community Engagement Strategy that embraces progress in equity and the need for communities to have clarity and consistency across planning projects and agencies to have concise metrics for measuring participation efforts.

Insights gained from the Equity Focus Groups and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Participation Planning process are the driving force behind this new chapter. We are crafting a dynamic toolkit that encapsulates best practices for engagement, complete with robust metrics that bring the impact of outreach into focus.

Join us as we journey towards a more collaborative future, where every engagement is a steppingstone towards building one great region.

Contact us for more information!

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33°n
CDAP
Community Planning Academy
ConnectA
Empowerline
Georgia Commute Options
Green Communities
LCI
LINK
MARC
Metro Atlanta Speaks
MNG Water Planning District
RLI
State of the Region
UASI
WorkSource GA