Defining North Carolina's Transportation Disadvantaged Populations

This project will provide North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) with information and approaches applicable to planning and project development that will enable NCDOT to better address the needs of transportation disadvantaged populations through supporting improved quality of life and more effective engagement of these groups in the transportation decision-making process. Drawing from research and stakeholder outreach, a set of Transportation Disadvantaged Indices (TDIs) will be developed, each specifically designed for a category of transportation disadvantaged population. Recognizing that categories of disadvantaged populations have very different needs and are affected by different types of impacts, each TDI will include dimensions specific to disadvantaged population categories, defined by income level, minority status, disability, age, limited English, low-English proficiency, non-English speaking, or proximity to environmental hazard zones. For each population category, the TDI will describe the degree to which a given population faces challenges to safely and affordably access their basic needs and pursue economic opportunities. The dimensions of each TDI will be specified by a review of current research and information collected during targeted stakeholder outreach interviews with representatives of transportation disadvantaged populations in North Carolina (NC) communities. The TDI is anticipated to include metrics to capture access to affordable transport (e.g. transit or non-motorized modes) for employment and educational activities, access to health care providers, access to healthy food retailers, and safety and health risks related to environmental hazards specific for each group. The TDI will allow NCDOT and local communities to compare proposed project outcomes and track progress over time. The project will also provide geographic infromation system (GIS) maps locating the identified population groups in selected counties in NC. These maps will allow for a set of case study applications of the TDIs. To support the implementation of the TDIs, the project will produce a practitioner guidebook describing how to identify and locate transportation disadvantaged populations in NC. The guidebook will also describe how to apply the TDIs to evaluate the degree of benefits to population categories that can be anticipated from a proposed project or plan. The guidebook include effective communication and engagement strategies for these populations. The project will focus on practice-ready methodologies using readily available datasets and straightforward analytical methods to deliver tools and information to help NCDOT better meet its Title VI obligations as well as more effectively work with vulnerable groups to deliver projects, plans, and programs that address their needs.