State Departments of Transportation are conduits for the federal funds that typically pay for 50-80% of all road projects. They are also typically the channels for state road funds, and in most cases they are the source of statewide design standards and the arbiter of local discretion in road design. Thus the probability of your having to deal with your state DOT regarding the design and impact of a project in your community is very high. Also remember that your DOT is a very large organization with a huge budget, complicated funding mechanisms, voluminous technical standards, and a great deal of power. For these very reasons, it can have enormous effects on a community — for good or bad.
Thus it is well worth developing a relationship with such an agency to the point where you can influence their treatment of projects in your community. Needless to say, this is a big job. Be prepared to start early, be in for the long haul, get educated, and invest a large amount of time. But also remember that DOT employees are public servants ultimately accountable to you, the citizen. Some of the best advice on how to deal with your state DOT is to be found in two publications — an article by Ian Lockwood entitled “Ten Ways to Win With Your State DOT”, and a booklet entitled “Getting it Right in the Right-of-Way” put out by Scenic America. Both of these are listed in “Links and Reading”.