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UTEP Research to Better Engage Public in Transportation Plannin

An example of visualization used in transportation planning.
An example of visualization used in transportation planning.
The University of Texas at El Paso has received a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to study the effectiveness of visualization to improve public participation in transportation planning.

Because it is required that the public take part in the transportation decision making process, project managers must provide presentations to the public and allow them the opportunity to voice their concerns.

“They must engage the public,” said Dr. Ruey Cheu, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Principal Investigator for the project. “Transportation projects can affect their property and lifestyle so it’s important to allow them the opportunity to voice their concerns.”

Working closely with the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), UTEP’s research team will study the use of visualization in transportation planning presentations. Researchers will study presentations, create presentation materials, and conduct surveys in order to create guidelines for project managers to follow when presenting proposed transportation projects to the public. The guidelines will recommend the suitable visualization methods to be used for different transportation planning scenarios.

To create these guidelines, the researchers will seek input from the end user’s point of view.

“As engineers and planners we focus on making the presentation visually attractive and convincing,” said Cheu. “But no one has actually looked at it from the user’s point of view to find out what a lay person would actually want to see and what how it would impact their decision.”

Two graduate students (civil engineering and computer science) will be recruited to work on the project. Collaborators are Dr. Raed Aldouri from the Geospatial Information Service Center and Dr. Nigel Ward from the Department of Computer Science.

Research will be completed in the Border Intermodal Gateway (BIG) Laboratory at UTEP.

For more information on the BIG Laboratory visit