background image
The Osprey Group
Conflict Assessment
Page 12
preferred alternative quickly might mean that funds for this transportation priority are
likely to be moved to other Oregon transportation needs.
Option III: Heightened Commitment to Public Engagement
This option falls between the first two options. It allows for more meaningful additional
public involvement, but is not a collaborative process.
This approach entails expanding the current public involvement process in an attempt to
foster much deeper understanding of and solicit input on alternatives, evaluation criteria,
possible environmental and other impacts, and the mandates of the agencies. It would
likely involve a sequential series of workshops. The workshops might have a specific
topical focus, such as:
Project Overview (NEPA, Role of Agencies, Purpose and Need)
Identification of Alternatives and Criteria for Evaluating Alternatives
Assessment of Alternatives
Identification of the Preferred Approach
No representative group of people would be selected to participate; everyone would be
welcome. Extensive participation by all involved agencies, including ODOT, FHWA and
the two cooperating agencies, and local governments would be expected, and an open
exchange of information and ideas would be encouraged. Additional resources and
interagency cooperation would be necessary to organize and execute the workshops and
other means of outreach.
This approach has certain positive attributes. It allows additional public engagement in
several substantive areas under debate, such as the purpose and need, the criteria being
employed to evaluate the alternatives, and the range of alternatives under review. The
workshop format is suggested so that the sessions are informative and beyond the
traditional public meeting format. There should be ample opportunity for an exchange of
ideas and information. This approach could be undertaken in a fairly expeditious fashion.
There are also certain downsides to this approach. It is likely that more time would be
needed for this approach than for Option I (albeit less than Option II). Some will argue
that the level of involvement is not sufficiently meaningful. They might say, for instance,
that having a sole session to address alternatives would be inadequate. Moreover, this
format does not allow for the richness and depth of discussion that the collaborative
process would entail. What this approach gains in breadth, it loses in depth. Perhaps
some would be concerned that this model gives the illusion of public engagement, but
there might be little commitment on the part of the agencies to truly listen and be
responsive to what they are hearing. In this sense, Option III could smack of cooption
rather than true public involvement.