SH 34 Corridor Study & Environmental Assessment

Public Involvement Plan
Introduction

 The SH 34 Corridor Study, from north of Kaufman to south of Terrell (IH 20) in Kaufman County, Texas will require public involvement to encourage and solicit public input and provide an opportunity for the public to become fully informed about the project. The SH 34 Corridor Study and Environmental Assessment is intended to develop a locally-preferred plan of action to improve transportation efficiency along the north-south corridor between Terrell and Kaufman, Texas.

The study process follows federal procedures which call for collaborative development of transportation projects with local communities and all involved agencies. This paper provides an outline of the public involvement and agency coordination process proposed to be used during the course of the SH 34 Study.

Implementing this public involvement plan is intended to both inform the public and foster the free exchange of project views and concerns. Moreover, it will advise the public and interested agencies of the project scope, and assist with determining alternatives, potential impacts and mitigation measures. This plan will be implemented by the following activities.

 

Public Involvement Activities

The public is encouraged to participate as partners in the SH 34 Corridor Study and provide comments at any point in the process. This Public Involvement Plan demonstrates planned activities to provide outreach and opportunities for involvement to the stakeholders in the area of effect. The study will remain flexible in the public involvement process, and will respond to the ideas and needs of the stakeholders as the study progresses.

Goals and objectives of this Public Involvement Plan are to:

  • Educate the public on the benefits and impacts of the study options;
  • Build a consensus of support; by responding to questions, providing information and incorporating feedback;
  • Seek always to create real understanding;
  • Foster a climate of rational discussion and correct information;
  • Meet and possibly exceed Federal, State and other requirements set for public involvement;
  • Achieve general agreement that the public involvement process has been open, fair and necessary.
  • Identify issues and alternatives early in the project development process.

 

Public Meetings

The plan includes two formal public meetings with open houses. The first meeting (tentatively scheduled for September 2005) will outline the process for determining the viable alternatives. This meeting will outline the process used to develop and screen alternatives, summarize the attributes and impacts of the developed alternatives, and invite public comment and suggestions on issues and alternatives.

The second public meeting (tentatively scheduled for March 2006) will allow the design team to share feasible and reasonable alternatives. The meeting will outline the analysis process used to identify and refine the locally preferred alternatives, alternative impacts and other corridor alternatives studied for public review and comments. The meeting will include visual displays/exhibits and other technical materials for distribution at the meeting that clearly display identified environmentally sensitive areas, including but not limited to schools, residences, places of worship, cemeteries, wetlands, parks, historical sites, protected species habitat and archaeological sites. Displays will include various alternative cross sections and alignments as appropriate.

The plan concludes with a formal public hearing with an open house. The hearing is scheduled for June 2007. The public meetings and hearing will occur at key points in the study process, when significant information can be provided, and when public comments can serve to guide the advancement of the study and the selection of alternatives. Stakeholders will be notified 30 days in advance of impending meetings. This will be accomplished through legal notification in both the Kaufman Herald and the Terrell Tribune.

Each meeting will include written agendas, comment forms, and any handouts that the team deems necessary. Sign-in sheets will be provided to assist with database maintenance. Meeting summaries will be developed after each meeting and posted on the project web site.

 

Organization

The SH 34 Corridor Study is being managed by the Dallas District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) with support from the TxDOT Kaufman Area Office. The study will proceed as a collaborative effort among the groups shown in the graphic below. The roles of these various groups and the participants in each are described in the remainder of this paper.

 

 

Database / Mailing List

A database will be developed of residents, business owners and interested others, and will be maintained to ensure that stakeholders receive information regarding project activities. Maintenance will include routine additions, deletions and corrections. The database will be updated after general public and stakeholder meetings, to reflect participation in meetings. The database will be organized as follows: 1) general public; (adjacent property owners in the corridor, and interested individuals); 2) local government officials and staff; 3) State and Federal government officials and staff; 4) Community interest representatives; and 5) media. Maintenance of this list will continue through the duration of the project. The database will be maintained in Microsoft Excel and will be forwarded to TxDOT regularly. The database will have the capability to be sorted and generate labels automatically.

 

 Newsletter

 Two newsletters dedicated specifically to the SH 34 Corridor Study project will be published during the study, and will be used to announce the public meetings. This information will keep the public informed of the progress of the study, and the share the dates, times and locations of public meetings. Graphics and maps will be incorporated.