RES2020-17: Community Engagement in Rural Communities

Public involvement is defined as a two-way communication aimed at providing information to the public and incorporating the views, concerns, and issues of the public in the transportation decision-making process. By involving the public early in planning transportation projects and throughout the development and implementation of projects, a transportation agency can enhance its ability to establish relationships, credibility, and consensus throughout the course of the project. Most of Tennessee consists of rural and small communities. These communities face challenges such as scare resources, technological, geographical, demographic shifts, which can limit effective engagement capabilities. Engagement strategies that are effective for urbanized and metropolitan areas may not be as effective for these rural communities. This study employed a mixed method research approach to identify best practices for engaging rural communities in transportation planning and decision making. The research methodology involves an extensive literature review, interviews with four OCT supervisors, interviews with twenty-four community leaders in four case communities in Tennessee, and two rounds of Delphi community survey. The research process brought together all key stakeholders to build a true consensus of best practices to engage rural communities in transportation planning. Data analysis showed rural communities feel detached and unaware of TDOT’s role in and plans for community transportation. Engaging rural communities using social media and conducting virtual meetings can reach wider sections of the community. However, due to lack of consistent internet and cell phone coverage in rural communities, this type of outreach cannot replace in-person engagement. Securing support of the community leaders, having a presence in the community, and building partnerships will increase trust in TDOT and foster better engagement. A list of recommendations is provided that will enhance rural engagement for long range community transportation planning in Tennessee.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $76415
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Tennessee Department of Transportation

    James K. Polk Building
    Fifth and Deaderick Street
    Nashville, TN  United States  37243-0349
  • Managing Organizations:

    East Tennessee State University

    P.O. Box 70565, Ross Hall
    Johnson City, TN  United States  37614
  • Project Managers:

    Taylor, Morgan

  • Performing Organizations:

    East Tennessee State University

    1276 Gilbreath Dr.
    Johnson City, TN  United States  37614
  • Principal Investigators:

    Uddin, Mohammad

    Foster, Kelly

    Bright, Candice

  • Start Date: 20190801
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210531
  • Actual Completion Date: 20210531
  • USDOT Program: Transportation, Planning, Research, and Development

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01744402
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: RES2020-17, 40100-07219
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 29 2020 1:49PM