The National Academies

NCHRP 08-41 [Final]

Effective Methods for Environmental Justice Assessment

  Project Data
Funds: $499,182
Research Agency: URS Corporation
Principal Investigator: Jason Sheeley
Effective Date: 4/24/2001
Completion Date: 1/31/2004

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice have resulted in requirements that potentially affect a wide range of planning tasks undertaken by state departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), public transit agencies, and other partners in the transportation planning process. The Executive Order requires that "each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations." Amplified upon in subsequent U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration Orders, in terms of transportation policy, environmental justice contains three fundamental principals: "(1) to avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations; (2) to ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process; and (3) to prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority populations and low-income populations."

Questions related to environmental justice arise in system-level analyses of regional issues, corridor-level analyses of alternative projects, and project-level impacts assessments. These questions may deal with impacts on population segments with regard to the social environment, the natural environment, economic implications such as accessibility to jobs and other activities, and other consequences of transportation policies and projects. There is a need to develop improved processes and procedures to aid in assessments of environmental justice implications of transportation decisions and investments.

The objective of this research was to identify and develop processes, procedures, and techniques for integrating environmental justice considerations in transportation systems planning and decision making at the statewide, regional, and metropolitan levels. The research will improve the analytical capabilities of states, metropolitan planning organizations, and their planning partners. The research will build on existing community-impact assessment methods and will focus largely on the adaptation and extension of these methods to environmental justice analyses employed at the systems, corridor, and project levels of transportation planning and development.  The guidebook was published as NCHRP Report 532.

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