This Toolkit is modeled after the Baltimore Region and Environmental Justice Toolkit that is currently being developed in the Baltimore Region. Lessons learned from the Baltimore Region will be used in the test sites to fine tune the procedures and methodologies developed in Baltimore. As in the Baltimore Region the tool kit will have a dual audience. For transportation and planning agencies charged with addressing equity concerns in relation to Title VI, it would serve as comprehensive planning guide, offering assistance in effective methods to analyze and evaluate key transportation equity concerns. For disadvantaged communities and their advocates it would also serve as an educational device, helping them to better understand and take part in the transportation planning and decision-making process. While a number of recent studies and reports address “pieces” of this Toolkit, our conclusion following extensive research is that no one of these current sources delivers the type of practical, systematic, and multi-user guidance that is contemplated by this project. As is the case with the FHWA award the product of this effort will serve to add to the effort funded being funded by EPA, FHWA and its Baltimore partners.
The overall goal of the project is to develop a procedural planning tool kit for MPO’s and Transit providers to integrate EJ analysis into the metropolitan transportation planning and transit systems operations process; and to encourage replication through community meetings, academic research and applications research sharing. The first objective of this initiative was to identify the residual health, and mobility issues which are derived from the planning and implementation of transportation services. The second objective of this initiative is to develop an environmental justice and transportation planning tool kit that supports interactive exchanges between the MPO, community residents, and service providers. A third objective is to develop a process for disseminating charts, look tables and procedures to provide guidance that federal, state, regional, local planning and non-profit agencies can use to provide environmental and consumer friendly transportation services.
Behind the goals and objectives of this project is a vision of developing an awarness of how decisions are made in the hope of strengthening in both a broad and narrow sense the community’s capacity to work within established planning and regulatory mechanisms. Decisions makers and planners often require technical analysis prior to taking any serious action to resolve issues; and because they are often swamped by the shear volume of issues, complaints and duties that must be addresed; processes have been erected to help sort and prioritize the many issues against scare financial resources. This tool with its focus on public participation, public health and transportation attempts to provide assistance to the broader community in the hope that it will positively infect the decision making process to the benefit of all.
This range of issues clearly cuts across numerous lines – technical/analytic, outreach and involvement, and administrative response – that challenge existing outreach, planning, and institutional practices and apabilities. Phase II presents a major opportunity to see if regional leaders and institutions can respond to these identified issues, and in the process, determine what new tools and procedures – or modification of existing – would enable a more meaningful and relevant response across these varied needs and concerns.