Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking

Presidential Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, directs federal agencies to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. Presidential Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, requires federal agencies to improve access to federally conducted and assisted programs and activities for persons who, as a result of national origin, are limited in their English proficiency. Both Executive Orders are based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin by government agencies that receive federal funding. The number of U.S. residents for whom English is a second language is increasing, and minority and low-income populations frequently have limited English proficiency and/or literacy. State departments of transportation and other transportation agencies implement a variety of approaches designed to meet both the spirit and the letter of the Executive Orders and federal law. Effective, efficient, and inclusive transportation decisionmaking depends and relies upon recognizing, responding to, and properly addressing the unique needs, cultural perspectives, and financial limitations of different socioeconomic groups. Developing an understanding of the value systems and viewpoints of these groups can be significantly aided by implementing a more comprehensive approach to engaging the public in transportation decision-making processes. Transportation agencies are finding that traditional public engagement techniques are often inadequate, effectively limiting meaningful participation by minority, low-income, and limited English proficiency populations in the transportation decision-making process. Transportation agencies need proven as well as innovative tools to effectively engage an increasingly diverse public in the development of transportation solutions. Recent evolutions in industry practices, such as Context Sensitive Solutions, promote early public involvement in decision-making processes throughout system planning, project planning, project design, project construction, system operation, and system maintenance. In response to a growing awareness that the demographics of this country's population are changing dramatically, a number of resources have recently been published that provide guidance and practical advice to transportation agencies on how to implement Title VI and Presidential Executive Orders 12898 and 13166. Research is needed to capture new or innovative practices and expand on existing work, including identifying emerging demographic trends, to provide additional tools to transportation agencies. The objective of this research is to develop a practical and easy-to-use toolkit of best practices that practitioners can use to involve traditionally underserved populations, particularly minority, low-income, limited English proficiency, and low literacy groups, in transportation decisionmaking. The toolkit will (1) identify emerging demographic trends relevant to transportation decisionmaking; (2) identify new practices and/or new applications of existing public involvement practices, including (a) how effective these practices are; (b) how an agency can develop and apply the practices; and (c) the lessons learned by agencies that have used the practices, including how agency policy or decisionmaking was affected; (3) identify analytical methods and practices that can be used to (a) properly identify affected populations; (b) identify the impacts on underserved populations; and (c) determine if impacts to environmental justice populations are disproportionate and adverse, including criteria used in the evaluation; and (4) identify strategies for mitigating impacts to the affected populations. The toolkit will be organized in a easily searchable format with the potential to be converted to a web-based tool. Content pertaining to specific populations should be easily accessed by transportation professionals with general backgrounds in project-level and systems-level planning. In selecting best practices for inclusion in the toolkit, considerations should be given to the size, type, and complexity of the transportation project or decision; geographic diversity; budget and cost information; organizational structure, type of agency, or level of government; and other relevant factors.


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  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 8-72

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC    20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  USA  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Sundstrom, Lori

  • Performing Organizations:

    Louis Berger Group

    30A Vreeland Road
    Florham Park, NJ  USA  07932
  • Principal Investigators:

    Aimen, David

  • Start Date: 20090502
  • Actual Completion Date: 20110520
  • Source Data: RiP Project 17903

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01464484
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 8-72
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:43PM