We never ate supper at my house until my Dad arrived home from work. Didn’t matter what time it was, Mom had it ready and waiting when he walked through the door and that was when we sat down at the table together as a family. I learned a lot around that table.
I have many memories of sharing a meal that included conversations about school, work, and grades – whatever it was that happened that day that involved our family of four is what was discussed. Sometimes I understood the conversations and sometimes I didn’t. As I grew older, sometimes I liked the opinions my parents expressed and sometimes I disagreed with them. But I always knew my parents would listen to what I had to say. From pre-school through high school and even into adulthood, I always knew I had a seat at that table.
We have a table just like that at TxDOT where there is always a seat for you. The discussions that take place are so important there is an entire department named for it – Public Involvement. Many of you might not understand what it is or what it’s for, but it is extremely important.
Hearing your opinions and thoughts early in the planning stages is a big part of a project’s success. There are public meetings and open houses going on throughout the state every week. You can always see those locations on our website at https://www.txdot.gov/.
As our engineers design road, rail and aviation projects that affect our communities, we need your opinions and ideas and are eager to have a conversation with you. At a public meeting, engineers answer questions one-on-one and we gather around a table to view designs and hear your ideas. We take your thoughts and opinions back to the drawing board for discussion and consideration. TxDOT is committed to improving our transportation system through citizen participation.
Public meetings are much like those nightly suppers around my family table. The comments, opinions, and at times constructive criticism helped my sister and I grow to become better. TxDOT has purposefully committed to involving the public in the planning of construction projects. We provide continuous and transparent access to the decision-making processes. Your comments and ideas can help make roadways better for all of us.
I hope you will take part in planning the future. We are currently designing mega-million dollar projects throughout the state. Some of them will change the landscape of East Texas. Have a say in how you think the future should look. Come take a seat at our table and let’s talk about it.
- Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.