The National Academies

NCHRP 08-100 [Completed]

Environmental Justice Analyses When Considering Toll Implementation or Rate Changes

  Project Data
Funds: $499,915
Research Agency: Louis Berger Group
Principal Investigator: Lawrence Pesesky
Effective Date: 7/29/2014
Completion Date: 11/30/2016


Tolling has become more prevalent as a funding mechanism as well as an operations strategy for transportation facilities. Tolling can have an impact on low-income and minority populations, but the extent of the impact is unclear. As a result of Presidential Executive Order 12898, U.S.DOT Order 5610.2(a), and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S.DOT requires transportation agencies to take into consideration environmental justice (EJ) in all transportation programs, policies, and activities. However, there is little guidance on how to best incorporate EJ analysis in assessing equity concerns in the context of pricing. Further, there is little consensus about what types of mitigation measures are appropriate to be used to offset the effects of tolling on minority and low-income populations. Research is needed to better understand how to measure and address the impact of tolling on minority and low-income populations at it relates to mobility, access, and household income.


The objective of this research is to develop a toolbox that practitioners can use to evaluate and address environmental justice issues that arise when implementing tolls or rate changes. The toolbox will be used to assist transportation decision makers with how to assess and offset any potential impacts on minority and low-income populations as a result of tolling. The toolbox should include:
Tools to measure the impacts of tolling on mobility, access, and household income;
Tools to engage low-income and minority populations early and often so decision makers and users can better understand the value of trade-offs when considering travel reliability, costs, and time; and
Tools to offset impacts on low-income and minority populations.
In order to develop this toolbox, it is envisioned that the researcher will provide: (a) a comprehensive literature review; (b) appropriate data sets (and gaps) to perform the EJ analysis related to tolling; (c) a description of the methods of analysis needed to characterize impacts; (d) the types of tolling proposals and other pricing situations for which detailed analysis of effects on minority and low-income users will or should be needed; (e) templates for assessing which tools to use under which circumstances for both analysis and mitigation (templates should be customizable by transportation agency size, mode, geographic location, types of tolling proposals, alternative routes, alternative modes, etc.); (f) applicable case studies (assess what works, what does not work, and why); (g) guidance for choosing most appropriate assessment and mitigation methods under different circumstances; (h) new approaches for assessing and mitigating impact; (i) additional new approaches for assessment or mitigation along with how they may be used and why they may work; and, (j) best practices with respect to how to measure and address the impact of tolling on minority and low-income populations.
The research should answer questions such as, but not limited to, the following:
What constitutes adequate analysis for measuring impacts on low-income and minority populations?
What methodologies are most appropriate for measuring and addressing impacts on the low-income and minority populations?
What is the appropriate geographic study area for measuring and addressing impacts?
Do different types of revenue collection methods have different impacts on low-income and minority populations (e.g., electronic toll collection, video toll collection)?
What barriers exist for participation in the use of toll roads by low-income and minority populations (e.g., registration requirements, stable mailing addresses, credit cards, etc.)?
What are best methods for addressing impacts based on type of facilities, availability of alternate routes, modes, tolling structure, purpose for tolls, etc.?
What are the range of educational tools needed to foster understanding so that low-income and minority populations can make informed decisions related to the use of toll facilities?
What are the mitigation strategies that have worked and what could potentially work?
Do different segments of the low-income and minority populations experience tolling impacts in different ways?

The research plan should build in appropriate interim deliverables that include, at a minimum, a detailed annotated outline of the guidelines, and at least one interim report that describes work done in early tasks and provides an updated work plan for the remaining tasks. NCHRP review and approval of interim reports is required before proceeding to any subsequent phase. The final deliverables will include: (1) the toolbox as described above; (2) a final report that documents the entire research effort; (3) an executive summary in the final report that outlines the research results; and (4) a presentation (e.g., a Microsoft® PowerPoint, video, etc.) aimed at decision makers that simply and concisely explains why the application of the toolbox is helpful and how it will be used. The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the NCHRP project panel including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the contract’s execution date; (2) at least one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting; and (3) at least two web-enabled teleconferences tied to panel review and NCHRP approval of any other interim deliverables as deemed appropriate.

STATUS: Completed; Published as NCHRP Research Report 860

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