Public input is integral to the development of the LRTP because it affects every resident, employee, and visitor in our community.
The Long Range Transportation Plan: Sustainable Choices 2045 process provides multiple opportunities for public involvement during the plan’s development. CUUATS staff advertise these opportunities via the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission website and local news outlets. For the 2045 LRTP, public outreach efforts include an online interactive map tool, surveys, videos, a social media presence, and outreach tables at popular community events. Public involvement aids in educating the public about the long range transportation planning process, raising awareness of existing transportation services, and providing opportunities for the public to inform the direction of planning efforts. Special emphasis is placed on public input because the LRTP affects every resident, employee, and visitor in the community. To gain local support and produce a plan that is grounded in a shared vision for the future, all resident participation is welcomed and appreciated.
CUUATS staff designed and scheduled the LRTP 2045 public involvement strategies and events to capture a representative sample of the population in the metropolitan planning area, with special emphasis on engaging underrepresented populations. The following charts provide an overview of participant demographics based on voluntary information provided by approximately 60 percent of participants from phase 1 and phase 2 of LRTP 2045 public involvement which included 27 in-person events as well as online engagement, and resulted in over 1,200 transportation system comments and over 1,100 surveys submitted about current transportation behavior and future transportation priorities.
Social Media Strategy
CUUATS staff keep these accounts active and engaging to increase traffic. Staff purchased Facebook ads to target certain age groups, such as the population aged 60 years and older and residents who live in rural areas and in municipalities outside of Champaign or Urbana, which are locations that are sometimes underrepresented at traditional public meetings or events. Through Facebook, CUUATS staff measured how many individuals from each age group and municipality the post reached. Metrics such as the number of likes, comments, views, and map link clicks indicated a post’s strength in reaching residents.
CUUATS staff encouraged residents to think of their own transportation suggestions by publishing photos of a comment location with the original poster’s suggested fix. For example, cyclists voiced their desire for a bike path from Champaign to Mahomet. In addition to posting transportation suggestions, Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area transportation statistics were shared on CUUATS social media platforms. All social media posts directed residents to the online survey and map.
Local organizations supported LRTP outreach efforts by promoting CUUATS Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts in an effort to reach more community members. The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, City of Urbana, City of Champaign, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, University of Illinois, MCORE Project, and State Rep. Carol Ammons’ team assisted with social media outreach. The City of Urbana Community Development department passed out LRTP informational business cards at their Neighborhood Night events in the summer as well.
Throughout the planning process, local news agencies helped raise awareness about public involvement opportunities. Illinois Public Media, also known as WILL, wrote about the project. CUUATS staff appeared on local television news to promote the LRTP outreach initiative. Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana’s online culture magazine, posted the press release created by CUUATS staff. The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission also shared the press release and other LRTP announcements on their website. In addition, CUUATS published legal advertisements in the News Gazette.