The National Academies

NCHRP 08-161 [Anticipated]

Identify Emerging Approaches for Public Engagement to Meaningfully Involve Minorities, Low-Income, and Other Vulnerable Populations

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation
Funds: $500,000
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks
Fiscal Year: 2022

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

In light of recent public emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is a renewed urgency to reconsider transportation decision-making practices and policies that lead to inequity in transportation outcomes and identify how new approaches or models might positively impact transportation planning and decision-making. Notably, there is the need to examine the strategies, methods, and techniques for effectively engaging more vulnerable populations in transportation decision-making, including but not necessarily limited to, low-income and minority populations and communities.

While several studies and guidebooks have focused on effective public involvement supporting transportation decision-making, including methods to engage low-income, minority, low-English literacy and other vulnerable populations, there is a need to focus research on those methods and strategies that provide meaningful involvement. This is particularly important for low-income and minority communities that often are not engaged in the political process  and stand to lose the most if their needs are not considered. .

This research shall seek to identify and define what meaningful public engagement consists of and the outcomes that can be achieved in the decision-making process by practicing effective engagement. In so doing, it will seek to identify the most pressing challenges in obtaining the meaningful involvement of minority, low-income, and other vulnerable populations in transportation decision-making. It will build on and reflect the well-documented research on this topic through the lens of recent experience, particularly in light of the effects and challenges that all-virtual public engagement, an outgrowth of COVID-19, has created for agencies and communities. The research should then assess and identify what are determined to be effective approaches for engagement that respond to those challenges that facilitate a more successful decision outcome for state departments of transportation and the full array of communities that they serve. 


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