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Planning for Equitable Transportation

Planning for Equitable Transportation

Graphic drawing with people and a bus at a bus stopProviding equitable access to transportation is essential for thriving communities.  To help foster transportation equity, important federal regulations have been developed, including:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, income, etc., in any program or activity that receives federal funding.  
  • Environmental justice (EJ) is the fair treatment of all people regardless of those characteristics. 

To achieve equitable transportation, the consideration of EJ communities is important in the regional transportation planning process because it not only helps to ensure that vulnerable communities are not disproportionately burdened by transportation-related decisions, but also that these community’s voices are being heard when making decisions.  Transportation decisions in EJ communities could potentially have adverse effects on pollution, community connectivity, access to social services, employment or education opportunities, displacement of people or businesses, and many more.  Additionally, it is important to ensure that EJ communities can enjoy the same benefits of transportation decisions as non-EJ communities.

To evaluate potential impacts to EJ communities in terms of transportation planning, staff from the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, the regional transportation planning organization, uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  EJ indicators are analyzed for communities across the region using nine unique variables to measure potential vulnerability.  These variables include:

  • Carless Households
  • Disabled Populations
  • Elderly Populations
  • Female Head of Households
  • Households Below Poverty.
  • Households Receiving Cash Public Assistance
  • Households Receiving Food Stamps
  • Households with Limited English Proficiency
  • Minority Populations

Averages for each variable are calculated at the census block group (CBG) level, then compared against regional averages.  If the CBG average is above the regional average, that area is considered an EJ community for that variable.  Finally, EJ communities are summed within each CBG so we can see which areas have concentrations of vulnerable populations.  This data is reassessed every five years as part of the development of the region’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the 20-year blueprint that guides multimodal transportation investments.  Updating EJ data on a regular basis is important so we know where these communities are, which gives us a better chance of ensuring that future transportation decisions are fair and equitable.

Infographic showing Percentages of Environmental Justice Communities

Staff have developed a series of interactive EJ Community maps that display this data.  To view the latest Title VI/EJ StoryMap created for the 2050 LRTP, click here:  https://arcg.is/1OXPW1.  Looking ahead, transportation candidate projects considered for inclusion in the 2050 LRTP will be assessed against these EJ Community maps to help determine potential project impacts.

If you would like to learn more about long-range transportation planning in Hampton Roads, click here:  https://www.hrtpo.org/page/long_range-transportation-planning-(lrtp)/

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