Minority and low-income communities and regions have long suffered adverse human health and environmental effects (including social and economic effects) from transportation projects. The goal of this project is to create a toolkit that enables minority, a low-income communities and other vulnerable at-risk population, that are planning transportation projects, to further avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately adverse human health and environmental effects (including social and economic effects). To accomplish this goal, the project team mixed key traditional transportation, housing, criminal justice, social equity and environmental justice principles. These principles underpin environmental justice and transportation issues are important elements of neighborhood revitalization and sustainability. The intent is to: 1) inform communities about their transportation concerns; 2) establish representative case studies that exemplify the concerns; 3) identify and/or develop analytical tools for evaluating the concerns; 4) develop solutions and strategies that enable and empower the community to address their concerns and 5) provide a model application that demonstrates the utility for evaluating environmental justice and transportation issues.
This toolkit enables communities to step back and look at the full picture of neighborhood, community, city, and regional wellness; consider and measure the dimensions of the problem; and then decide whether to address it at as an immediate concern, or as a longer- term fundamental change, or both. We recognize quality of life is tied to equity and sustainability. Community deliberations, dialogue and negotiation with the responsible public agencies by low-income and minority communities were used to formulate an effective process for evaluating the extent that environmental justice and transportation (EJT) issues are prevalent in low-income and minority communities (EJ communities). A variety of case studies are included to demonstrate various components of EJ analysis, with a particular focus on:
(1) the quality and adequacy of transit service
(2) congestion, pollution, family health and neighborhood wellness (3) the effectiveness of the public involvement process
From the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Albany experiences emerges the clear message that when communities are educated and well-informed they become more motivated to organize around their concerns. It is from this message that the project team has developed a series of public participation, equity analysis, spatial interrogation, and statistical evaluation tools which aid in a better understanding of environmental justice and transportation issues, concerns and solutions.