Community Engagement

Community input is a major component of everything the TPO does. We strive to make learning about and getting involved in our planning efforts as convenient as possible.

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The Mobility Plan 2040 update included many different ways to get involved in the planning process and learn more about regional transportation and the TPO:

Regional survey

The TPO contracted with the University of Tennessee for a statistically valid survey of Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, Roane, and Sevier residents. The survey, conducted between December 2015 and January 2016, focused on how well our region’s current transportation system is meeting the needs of the public, priorities for the future, and the preferred method of revenue generation. See report for detailed results.

Online public surveys

The TPO conducted three online surveys during the Mobility Plan process. The first online survey was available February- July 2016 and had nearly 600 responses. The survey questions mirrored questions we asked of our Mobility Advisory Committee and the TPO Technical Committee to help develop the project selection criteria process. Link

The second survey was open April – May 2016, and was designed to gather specific project ideas. Link

The third online survey was open February – March 2017 and was designed to match a public input handout available at TPO booths. More than 300 responses were received. The handout was also available in Spanish. Link

Interactive project map

The TPO created an interactive online map of all the projects submitted by cities, counties, and TDOT for consideration. Projects on the map can be sorted based on what type of project (e.g., road, transit, or bicycle/pedestrian) or location. More than 160 comments were received on projects – the most comments we have ever received on Mobility Plan projects. After the projects were prioritized based on selection criteria, the map was updated, and comments were accepted for the revised list. You can see comments received both before and after prioritization here. Link

Mobility Advisory Committee

The Mobility Advisory Committee (MAC) was a diverse stakeholder group formed to provide guidance and insight throughout the Mobility Plan process. The MAC consisted of representatives from many sectors, including health, education, business, economic development, tourism, community development, planning, and transportation, as well as agencies who work with disadvantaged and underserved communities. MAC members assisted with outreach by communicating issues and surveys to their own agencies, audiences, and customers/clients. Information shared with the MAC at their meetings can be found online. Link

Speaker series

To create community dialogue around transportation and related issues, the TPO and partner organizations brought in several guest speakers throughout the process. MAC members, elected officials, and the public were invited to attend all of these events. Link

Pop up events and open houses

Traditional public meetings have historically not been well attended. The TPO focused on co-hosting meetings with our partners (e.g., City of Oak Ridge, Knoxville Area Transit), and hosting booths at community events and locations.

Targeted outreach was also conducted through Community Schools in Knox County and Centro Hispano (a community center that aims to improve quality of life for multicultural families in East Tennessee). This outreach was intended to reach “priority populations” and get input from people who don’t normally participate in the transportation planning process.  Link

Pop Up Meetings

Meeting When/Where What We Heard
Oak Ridge City Blueprint Kick-Off Meeting
(see public comments)
Thursday, Jan 26, 2017
4 – 7:30 p.m.
High Places Church, 37830
  • Need transit in Oak Ridge and to Knoxville/Knox County
  • Walking – improved and expanded sidewalks and safe road crossings
  • Expansion of greenways/trails
  • Mobility for seniors – transit and walking
New Harvest Park Farmers Market Thursday, Feb 9, 2017
3 to 6 p.m.
4700 New Harvest Park Lane, 37918
  • Walking – lack of sidewalks
Burlington Library Game Night Thursday, Feb 16, 2017
5 – 8 p.m.
4614 Asheville Highway, 37914
  • Lack of investment in East Knoxville
  • Need more transit, greenways, and bike facilities
City of Knoxville Neighborhoods Conference Saturday, March 11, 2017
8 am – 2 pm
Knoxville Convention Center, 37902
  • Need more bike lanes, especially protected bike lanes
  • Need rail transit
  • Need more sidewalks and greenways
  • Like the TPO online project map

Community Conversations

The TPO conducted Community Conversations with business groups, cultural, civic, and fraternal organizations, churches, and others. Staff created engaging presentations that relied on graphics and audience interaction to tell the transportation story, including challenges of planning for the future, project highlights, and funding. Electronic polling devices were used to gather participant input whenever possible. Paper versions were offered for groups preferring not to use technology or where Internet access was unavailable.

Community Conversations included:

  • Loudon Committee of 100 – March 10, 2016
  • Knoxville Chamber Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – March 28, 2016 and September 12, 2016
  • Knoxville-Knox County Community Health Council – October 26, 2016
  • City of Maryville Planning Commission – March 20, 2017
  • American Society of Civil Engineers – March 31, 2017

Previous Community Engagement

Community input from the Plan East Tennessee effort provided a strong foundation for the work of this plan. Two phone surveys were conducted in 2012. Two common themes emerged from these surveys:

  • People say there is a lack of access to transit and sidewalks.
  • Two highest priorities for improving infrastructure are: ◦ Improving the quality of local roads ◦ Increasing the availability of transit
  • The top two spending priorities are: ◦ Attracting high quality jobs ◦ Improving the region’s transportation system

The Plan East Tennessee planning process also included extensive community engagement, in the form of public meetings with small-group discussion, “meeting-in-a-box” presentations and surveys, innovative online survey tools, and multidisciplinary working group meetings.

Based on this extensive input, eight regional goals were developed, including more transportation choices and more efficient infrastructure. Objectives were developed based on people’s input on how best to accomplish these goals. For more efficient infrastructure, the top three objectives were:

  • Adequately fund maintenance.
  • Conserve water and energy.
  • Avoid development not supported by existing infrastructure.

For more transportation choices, the top three were:

  • Create more bicycling and walking opportunities.
  • Provide options for people who do not drive.
  • Encourage development that supports transit.

A telephone survey of 2,000 residents in Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union counties was conducted between February 8, 2012 and March 28, 2012 to measure attitudes and opinions about problems facing the region and priorities for future growth. A second telephone survey of 2,000 residents in the same counties was conducted between August 15, 2012 and October 9, 2012 to measure opinions about how to improve the future quality of life within five focus areas: Economic and Workforce Development; Environment; Healthy Communities; Housing and Neighborhoods; and Transportation and Infrastructure. D34 DRAFT MOBILITY PLAN 2040 2013 TDOT Survey TDOT completed a statewide customer survey between November 2013 and January 2014. It assessed satisfaction levels with the quality and services of the transportation system and prioritized services and improvements. It consisted of a Resident Survey, an Elected Official Survey, and a Partner Survey.

Respondents believed TDOT should:

  • Evaluate all projects equally based on today’s needs (rather than honoring projects on the list for a long time).
  • Expand the capacity of an existing road that is heavily congested (instead of building new roads).
  • Focus investments in areas of the state with greatest need (vs. spreading investments equally across the state).
  • Fund a larger number of smaller projects in few places (vs. funding a small number of large projects in more places).

Based on this feedback, the public’s priorities are to:

  • Build strong towns.
  • Grow quality places.
  • Improve the health of our people and the environment.
  • Expand choices for all.
  • Invest in what we have.

The goals, project selection criteria, and performance measures for the plan were based on all of these collective priorities.