Residents’ responses to proposed highway projects: Exploring the role of governmental information provision

Marije Hamersma, Eva Heinen, Taede Tillema, Jos Arts

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Despite increased efforts to actively consult residents in highway infrastructure planning to i.a. increase acceptance of plans, the involvement of most residents is passive and limited to receiving information. By means of multivariate regression analysis, this paper explores the role of governmental information provision in residents’ responses towards highway project proposals, measured by the expected change in residential satisfaction i.e. the match between housing needs and conditions, as a consequence of those projects. We also pay specific attention to permeability of and satisfaction with information provided. The analyses are based on questionnaire data collected among 484 residents living close to two announced plans for highway adjustment in the Netherlands.

We found indications that residents who received information from a governmental project team are more satisfied with information compared to residents who only received information from other sources. In its turn, a higher level of information satisfaction was associated with more positive expectations with regard to changes in their residential satisfaction, although other contextual variables were also explanatory. Receiving information from the project team was mainly associated with a closer residential proximity to the highway where project team distribution efforts were also more intensive. However, we observed clear personal and project-specific differences in the number of information sources received and the likelihood to attend information meetings. The latter was also associated with more negative expectations towards residential satisfaction change. This indicates a clear difference in characteristics between the more actively involved group and the silent majority.

An important implication of this study is that information provided by project teams seems to increase acceptance of plans, via its contribution to residents’ information satisfaction. Nevertheless, only a minority of residents appeared satisfied with the information they received. Therefore, it seems worthwhile for planning agencies to pay more attention to people who currently appear less satisfied with the information provided. These include older residents, residents with fewer social contacts and families with children. In addition, the results indicate clear differences in expected satisfaction change between more actively and more passively involved residents. This may be a reason for governments to not only focus on opinions grasped from information meetings, but to specifically take into account the opinions of the more passive ‘silent’ majority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-67
Number of pages12
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2016



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