Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
3-1 There are practical approaches for involving traditionally underserved populations that can be taken at every stage of transportation decisionmaking. Identifying traditionally underserved populations and ensuring that their concerns, issues, and needs are understood and addressed can take many different forms and be expressed in many different types of activities in transportation. What is âpracticalâ or âeffectiveâ will vary by stage of transportation decisionmaking. Table 3-1 illustrates the typical types of programs, plans, and activities at each stage of transportation decisionmaking. Many contextual factors or attributes of transportation decisions are likely to influence the agency and the practitionerâs approach to interactions with the affected public and traditionally underserved populations, including: â¢ Geographic scale of the transportation activity or decision; â¢ Public or community attitude toward the agency and its past history and treatment; â¢ Understanding of the issues raised by the transportation decision and the degree of contro- versy it engenders; â¢ Cultural, social, and economic composition of the populations affected; â¢ Nature of input needed or sought by the agency; â¢ Timeline for decision; and â¢ Level of public involvement, and type of engagement or collaboration desired by the agency. With so many contextual factors relevant to selecting the âright approachâ for involving the public, including those who are thought to be traditionally underserved, the transportation practitioner might take some comfort in recognizing that there is no âone-size-fits-allâ approach or a defined series of steps or processes that must or should be followed. What will prove to be a practical approach is context-specific; the practitioners seeking to improve decision-making processes will adapt and customize their strategies and processes as the best means for achieving a standard of meaningful involvement. Practical approaches may be better characterized, not by prescription as to where and when they should be used, but as an outlook or perspective adopted by the agency or the practitioner as they orchestrate the creative use of various tools or techniques toward reaching a standard of meaningful involvement. For this toolkit, practical approaches have been categorized based on seven nonsequential, but often interrelated task objectives: 1. Identify Populations, 2. Implement Public Involvement Plan, 3. Provide Information, 4. Gather Feedback, 5. Build Relationships, C h a p t e r 3 Practical Approaches
3-2 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Po lic y/ Re se ar ch St at ew id e/ Me tr op ol it an Pl a nni n g Pr oj ec t De ve lo pm en t/ NE PA Co m p lia nc e Ri gh t- of -W ay Co nstr ucti on Op er at io ns & Ma in te na nc e â¢ Ad ve rt is in g an d So lic it at io n of Pr ob le m St at ements â¢ Re se ar ch To pi c Se le ct io n â¢ Pr oc ur emen t Se le ct io n of Ag en ci es , Un iv er si ti es , an d Co ns ul ti ng Fi rm s â¢ Pr equa lifie d Li st of Ag en ci es , Un iv er si ti es an d Co ns ul ti ng Fi rm s â¢ Re se ar ch an d Po lic y Re po rt s â¢ Te ch ni ca l A ssi st an ce & Tr ai ni ng â¢ Po lic y De ci si on s â¢ Sy st em s Pl a nni ng â¢ St at e Pl a nni ng an d Re se ar ch (S PR ) â¢ Un ifie d Pl a nni ng Wo rk Pr og ra m (U PW P) â¢ St at ew id e Tr an sp or ta ti on Im pr ov emen t Pr og ra m (S TI P) â¢ Tr an sp or ta ti on Im pr ov emen t Pr og ra m (T IP ) â¢ St at ew id e Lo ng - Ra ng e Tr an sp or ta ti on Pl an (L RT P) â¢ Me tr op o lit an LR TP â¢ Pu b lic In vo lv ement Pl an â¢ N eed s A sse ssm ent St ud y â¢ Co nges ti on Mi ti ga ti on Sy st em â¢ En vi ro nmenta l Sc r een in g â¢ Gr an ts Ad mi ni st ra ti on an d Fu nd in g â¢ Pu rp os e an d N eed De ve lo pm en t â¢ Pr oj ec t Sc op in g â¢ Al te rn at iv es De ve lo pm en t â¢ Pu b lic In vo lv ement â¢ In te ra ge nc y C oop er at io n an d C oor di na ti on â¢ An al ys is of Re as on ab le Al te rn at iv es â¢ En vi ro nmenta l Im pa ct An al ys is â¢ Co mmuni ty Im pa ct A sse ss ment â¢ Mi ti ga ti on an d E nha nc ements â¢ Do cu ment at io n an d Co mment in g â¢ Lo ca ti on St ud ie s â¢ Pr e lim in ar y De si gn an d Fe as ib ili ty â¢ Co mp lia nc e of Ot he r La ws â¢ Pe rm i tti ng De ci si on s â¢ Coor di na ti on wi th Pr oj ec t De ve lo pm en t En viro nmenta l Im pa ct s an d Pu b lic In vo lv emen t Ri ght- of -W ay Plans â¢ A ppr ai sa ls an d Va lu at io n M eet in gs wi th Ow ne rs Ac qu ir in g Ag en cy Va lu at io n A ppr ov al A ppr ai sa l Reports â¢ Ac qu is it io n of Re al Pr op er ty Wr i tten Offe r an d Ne goti at io ns Pa ym ent Be fo re Po sse ssi on 90- Da y No ti ce to Vacate â¢ Re lo ca ti on A ssi st an ce an d Pa ym ents Ad equa te No ti ce Gu ar an tee of Co mp ar ab le Dw e llin g Re lo ca ti on A ssi st an ce Ad vi so ry Se rv ic es Pa ym ents : Mo vi ng an d Re pl ac ement Co st s â¢ Property Ma na gement Pr e- co ns tr uc ti on Po st - co ns tr uc ti on â¢ Po st -P la nni ng an d Pr oj ec t De ve lo pm en t Re vi ew of Ch an ge d Co nd it io ns â¢ Pu b lic Re la ti on s, Ed uc at io n, an d Ou tr ea ch â¢ Co mmu ni ty Ad vi so ry Co unc ils / Tr a ffi c Ma na gement Co mmi ttees â¢ Tr a ffi c an d Sa fe ty Pr ed ic ti on Mo de lin g an d Im pa ct An al ys is â¢ Tr a ffi c Ma na gement Pl an s â¢ Co nt ra ct in g an d Bi ddi ng Pr oc edur es â¢ No ti ce of Co ns tr uc ti on â¢ Fu lfill Pr e- co ns tr uc ti on Mi ti ga ti on s Co mmi tments â¢ Co ns tr uc ti on Pr og ra m De si gn â¢ Im pl ement Be st Ma na gement Pr ac ti ce s â¢ Mo ni to r Pe rf or ma nc e an d Im pa ct s â¢ Ut iliz e Te c hno lo gi es fo r Tr av el er an d Tr a ffi c In fo rm at io n â¢ Do cu ment , Ma na ge , an d Re so lv e Ci ti ze n Co mp la in ts â¢ Pl ow in g an d Sn ow Re mo va l â¢ Po thol e an d Su rf ac e Ma in tena nc e â¢ Pa rk in g â¢ Tr a ffi c Si gna liz at io n â¢ No is e Ba rri er s â¢ Sa fe ty Fe at ur es â¢ Lo ca ti on of Ma in tena nc e Fa c ili ti es (e .g ., sa lt sh ed s) â¢ La nd sc ap in g â¢ Gr ad e Cr o ssi ng s â¢ Bi ke wa y an d Pe de st ri an Fa c ili ti es â¢ In fo rm at io n Di sse mi na ti on â¢ Tr an si t St op Lo ca ti on s â¢ Se rv ic e Fe at ur es an d Ro ute Se le ct io ns (M od ific at io ns , Ex tens io ns , Di sr up ti on s, an d De le ti on s) â¢ Po lic e, Sa fe ty , an d Se cu ri ty â¢ Pa rk an d Ri de an d Mo da l In te rf ac es â¢ We at he r Pr otec ti on â¢ Pe de st ri an Fa c ili ti es Table 3-1. Typical programs, plans, and activities by stage of transportation decisionmaking.
practical approaches 3-3 6. Mitigate Impacts, Deliver Benefits, and 7. Overcome Institutional Barriers. These task objectives provide an organizing framework for presenting various effective practices, tools, and techniques. How and why these practices are used and why they are effective at reaching and engaging traditionally underserved populations are described, including examples of how they have been successfully applied. The framework reflects the varying levels of public participation and engagement that are undertaken at various times as well as more tangible expressions of commitment to traditionally underserved populations by transportation agencies and practi- tioners at various decisionmaking stages. These task objectives are described here in greater detail and several types of tools and techniques are then described to accomplish each objective. Subsequent chapters devoted to âEffective Practicesâ (Chapter 4), âTools and Techniquesâ (Chapter 5), and âData Sources and Toolsâ (Chapter 6) provide additional information about strategies for engaging traditionally underserved populations along with more detailed descriptions of the context, the reasons for using various tools and techniques, and level of resources committed to undertaking various approaches. Links to websites for these examples of successful practices and other resources can be found in subsequent chapters of the toolkit. Identify Populations Identifying populations is a critical task objective for agencies and practitioners who are seeking to understand who are likely to be affected by transportation decisions within their jurisdictionâ whether it is for statewide and metropolitan planning, project development and environmental assessments for corridor- or facility-specific projects, policy research, or for other activities at other stages of transportation decisionmaking. Identifying the location of affected populations, including traditionally underserved populations, is a prerequisite step for the development of public participation plans to ensure that these plans are inclusive and to ensure that impacts of transportation decisions can be comprehensively assessed as to the benefits and burdens that are borne by affected populations. Periodic evaluation of the effectiveness of the public involvement planâwhich is an important means by which the agency and the practitioner can assess whether outreach activities have been successful in creating opportunities for meaningful involvementâ requires consideration of the location and diverse characteristics of the affected populations. Identifying populations implies a careful and detailed consideration of the socioeconomic composition of the affected populations. Properly prepared, this profile can offer insights into the demographic realities within a region or study area, describing the social conditions and context of life for populations who reside or work within the affected communities and how various segments of the public may use transportation to access jobs, education, or other essential destinations for health care, groceries, and recreation. Without reference to a social and economic profile, it is nearly impossible for an agency to begin to understand the diverse affected populations that an agency will encounter within a region or community, consider the potential constraints that may impede their access to public participation events, or design or prioritize projects that will be harmonious with affected communities. Understanding the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of affected communities is more than a âdesktopâ exercise involving the use of statistics and geographic information systems (GIS) mapping. Key stakeholders and community leaders should also be identified and contacted. They can provide highly relevant information about the affected populationsâ their social relationships, customs, and valuesâthat are difficult to glean from secondary data sets. Having discussions with these contacts can foster greater insights about communities and
3-4 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking strengthen relationships with influential leaders or institutions that can evolve into the types of partnering arrangements that will make future activities by the agency more successful. Several tools and techniques supportive of the task objective of identifying populations are described below. Develop Social and Economic Profile. Creating a profile is critical to understanding the needs of low-income and minority groups as well as other segments of the traditionally underserved populations. A detailed profile that explores social and economic demographic characteristics such as income, race and ethnicity, disability, age, limited English proficiency (LEP), educational attainment, time leaving home for work, and âzero-carâ households provides an important building block for many types of studies and plans. Identifying the population segments that an agency is trying to engage and understanding their abilities and constraints to participation provide the foundation for the development and implementation of thoughtful and inclusive public involvement plans. It is a prerequisite element for environmental justice analyses, such as benefits and burdens assessments, and for preparing plans for working with LEP populations. â¢ The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) partnered with the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis to provide authoritative data and information for use in transporta- tion planning and project development. Their Socio-Economic Indicator Resource Web Page, which they created, includes maps, tables, charts, and graphics at different geographic levels meaningful to MoDOT personnel and their partners. Data is available for the following topics: Race/Hispanic Status; Employment Status; Housing Units; Households; Income and Poverty; Population; Age; Educational Attainment; Disability; and Transportation (see Figure 3-1). â¢ The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has created a methodology to identify disadvantaged populations within its region. The commissionâs guidance document, Plannerâs Methodology, offers background on Title VI and environmental justice and instructs DVRPC staff on the protocols to follow at the systems planning and project levels as part of their efforts to mitigate adverse project or program consequences, or to direct public outreach efforts. DVRPC currently analyzes eight possible degrees of disadvantage (DOD) within census tracts in the nine-county area: Poverty; Non-Hispanic Minority; Hispanic; Elderly; Carless Households; Physically Disabled; Limited English Proficiency; and Female Head of Household with Child. Their method is also used to assist in targeting specific populations as part of their public participation plan. Define the Project and Study Area. The study area is the area expected to be affected by a proposed project. Each technical analysis topic (i.e., air quality, noise and vibration, traffic, wetlands, etc.) may have its own individual study area based upon the geographic area of probable project consequences to the subject resource. Community impact analysts must also identify a geographic region that includes the communities expected to be affected by the project by drawing upon early scoping activities, public involvement, and interagency coordination. Those involved in community impact assessment (CIA) and those responsible for leading the public involvement plan process have often taken a back seat to transportation engineers and transportation planners in defining projects at the earliest stages of the project delivery process. However, practitioners who conduct early screening of a communityâs social and economic characteristics and notable community features bring an important perspective to a multi- disciplinary project team about the key issues of concern articulated by those living in the affected communities, including traditionally underserved populations. Drawing upon the community perspective, the project team can gain critical input for defining the project study areas, formulating a purpose and need, and developing project alternatives that can be locally accepted. â¢ The Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Reference for Transportation (FHWA, 1996), a primer prepared by the FHWA, succinctly communicates the importance of making a
Practical Approaches 3-5 commitment to early and continuing public involvement to support defining the project and the study area, and discovering project alternatives that may enjoy widespread community support. The CIA Website serves as an information clearinghouse for transportation officials, regional development professionals and the general public interested in evaluating the effects of transportation planning and project implementation on a community and its quality of life (see Figure 3-2). â¢ The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Florida Department of Trans- portation (FDOT), along with other state departments of transportation have prepared handbooks on CIA to help practitioners evaluate the effects of a transportation project on a community and its quality of life. These handbooks include guidance on how to define study areas and how to develop a community profile, among other steps in the CIA process. Utilize GIS to Engage Communities. GIS are an excellent tool for identifying the locations of traditionally underserved populations, including low-income and minority populations, linguistically-isolated populations, and transit dependent, âzero-car households,â among other populations. GIS are a dominant information transfer mechanism for social and economic data and a principal means of access to U.S. Census and related data presented spatially. GIS tools can Figure 3-1. MoDOTâs website provides thematic socioeconomic maps for metropolitan planning organizations, among other jurisdictions. http://oseda.missouri.edu/modot/
3-6 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking also be used to inventory notable features in a community (e.g., hospitals, schools, churches, child care facilities, community centers, senior centers, historic districts, etc.) or particularly accessible community facilities for public involvement events. GIS are a valuable tool for assess- ing how programs, policies, plans and existing activities could affect various populations, includ- ing low-income and minority populations (see Figures 3-3 and 3-4). The tool can improve the transparency and accountability of planning and project development activities. For example, public involvement practitioners can map locations of public outreach events or public comments received in relationship to social characteristics of affected populations. Community complaints, crime incidents, or health-related issues can also be mapped. â¢ The Kirk Avenue Bus Yard Case Study, presented as part of the Baltimore Region Environmental Justice and Transportation Project sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, offers an example of how GIS can visually reveal the impact of large scale bus maintenance operations on a hidden and at-risk concentration of traditionally underserved populations. The Kirk Avenue bus yard had been a point of contention between the surrounding East Baltimore Midway community and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) for many years. Noise and emissions from nearby bus operations were frequently the subject of community complaints. Socio-demographic conditions of the community were compiled, utilizing the GIS distance- related buffers, to support geographic comparisons of the local community vis-Ã -vis the surrounding region. Bus routes were mapped to illustrate the regional function of the transportation facility, illustrating how its benefits were dispersed regionally while few of these routes could actually be reached by local residents. Other air quality, noise, and health-related research was conducted on behalf of the community. The compiled information served as key points of reference for those advocating for environmental justice, smart growth, and sustainability remedies to mitigate the cumulative effects and bring relief to local residents. â¢ The Complete Streets Assessment Tool (CSAT) and the School Environment Assessment Tool (SEAT) are examples of mobile GIS data collection tools used to inventory and audit the built environment that are being used to engage and empower community residents. Armed with personal digital assistants (PDAs) or smart phones, the tools integrate with ArcGIS software containing maps of streets, intersections, and landmarks, such as parks or other community facilities. Condition assessments can contain a mix of objective and subjective questions to elicit the usersâ views about whether the area is safe or accessible for various persons (e.g., those in wheelchairs or reliant upon walkers). The approach invites collection of very localized, spatially-oriented dataâparticularly important for pedestrian, biking, or public transit modesâand can be used to engage interested members of the community such as youth in schools and others in a public dialogue about unmet needs, unsafe conditions, and infrastructure that must be fixed to ensure a livable community and safe environment for multi-modal transportation options. Holding all-day workshopsâoverview discussions about safe routes to schools programs, PDA training, walking tours, box lunches, mapping and synthesis of field work observations, and a plenary wrap-up at the dayâs endâcan be instrumental in building local community capacity. Conduct a Community Characteristics Inventory. Community characteristics inventories are interactive, web-based GIS systems for generating customized demographic reports for a specific community(s). The tool enables information retrieval on a project-specific basis and is designed for planners, project managers, and the general public. The Community Characteristics Inventory may have several components, including the following: â¢ Interactive mapping and reporting of census-based data for the different demographic groups in the community under investigation; â¢ A community background report with information about the communityâs development history, geographic boundaries, transportation and non-transportation projects that have Figure 3-2. The FHWAâs CIA primer describes methods and processes for assessing the social and economic impacts of transportation projects, emphasizing the importance of public involvement as part of the planning and project develop- ment process.
Figures 3-3 and 3-4. GIS maps display concentrations of minority populations with community facilities as part of a constraints screening exercise at an early stage of a highway environmental impact assessment in Columbia, Missouri (top) and to do asset mapping for a neighborhood-based environmental justice investigation in Baltimore, Maryland (bottom).
3-8 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking been implemented within the community, community attitudes toward transportation-specific projects, and whether attitudes towards those projects were favorable or unfavorable; and â¢ Public involvement strategies for different groups within the community. Appropriate or recommended public involvement strategies have been identified for different age groups, disabled populations, varying levels of educational attainment, income levels and vehicular ownership, race, and language spoken. In addition to identifying low-income and minority populations, such tools can be designed to paint a more complete picture of the affected community. Adding a community history component to a community background report can offer historical context for the current conditions of the community. Such information can help to better define and capture community characteristics not reported by the census. â¢ The Miami-Dade County MPO, in collaboration with Florida International University, has developed the Integrated Transportation Information System (ITIS), formerly known as the Community Characteristics Program. Initially the MPO created community background reports for 35 municipalities in Dade County. This was followed by the creation of community background reports for the 20 major neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas of the county. The MPO went back to the municipalities, once the initial tasks were completed, and created 22 additional community background reports for the different neighborhoods within the municipalities. The MPO has now established the capacity to go from the macro level to the micro level and to identify niche places and neighborhoods within the county. Each year, the MPO attempts to identify 20 additional neighborhoods. â¢ FDOT made a major investment in its âEnvironmental Screening Toolâ (EST), an Internet- accessible interactive database and mapping application. The EST establishes a shared information platform to support the assessment of the natural and sociocultural effects at the planning, programming, and project development stages. The EST provides analytical and visualization tools to communicate information in a user-friendly fashion, albeit most effectively for those with access to computers, high-speed Internet service providers, and basic proficiency with English as well as the navigation requirements of the EST platform. Com- munity characteristic inventories are among the many features of the tool with data layers reporting race, income, age, and other demographic indicators. The EST tool permits flexibility in setting âbuffer areaâ distances from project alternatives to map community facilities. The application supports civic involvement and inter-agency participationâfor example, between FDOT district offices, MPOs, and resource agenciesâthroughout the project life cycle. Identify âAffected Populationsâ Using a Community Attribute Index. A community attribute index (CAI) is a multi-dimensional index method for describing the attributes of communities. It is an alternate approach for identifying âaffected populationsâ or âpopulations of concernâ for the purposes of preparing the analytical component of a benefits and burdens analysisâan activity more often undertaken for metropolitan planning purposes, but also potentially applicable to project-specific studies once the data has been assembled. The CAI approach scores the attributes of communities, indicating those communities exhibiting stronger or weaker quality-of-life attributes. â¢ The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) commissioned the study of a CAI to identify envi- ronmental justice communities at a regional level. Modeled after the United Nationsâ Human Development Index, a CAI was prepared for ARC, the regionâs MPO. In âmajorityâminorityâ communities, such as Atlanta, the approach can place a greater emphasis on dimensions of poverty, economic opportunity, educational attainment, and family stability in order to target resources to communities that are in need. The Atlanta study contrasted the zones most in need using the CAI approach with those that were indicated using the thresholds typically
practical approaches 3-9 used to define environmental justice communities in Atlanta. Their study found that the lat- ter, or typical, approach included some environmental justice communities with higher than expected quality of living standards. Implement Public Involvement Plan Developing a public involvement plan (PIP) is a key step toward better integrating the needs and concerns of traditionally underserved populations in transportation decision-making processes. The PIP serves as a procedural guide for agencies and practitioners and describes effective strategies for encouraging public participation. The PIP should guide all stages of transportation decisionmaking, but is particularly relevant in statewide and metropolitan planning, project development, and environmental review stages of decisionmaking. Some PIPs will be broad and cover all public involvement conducted by the transportation agency, while others will be project specific but in keeping with the agencyâs overall PIP. Creating a PIP should be preceded by exploratory and research activities, such as creating a demographic and economic profile or holding meetings with community leaders and organizations, which should be undertaken as early as possible, before project decisions are made. Tools and techniques for implementing PIPs necessarily include establishing the plan, as well as identifying policies and practices that can be incorporated into the plan, such as those described in this section, and setting in motion procedures to periodically evaluate the PIPâs effectiveness in achieving its goals and carrying out its prescribed procedures. Upfront Site Visits to Establish Scope of PIP. Prior to establishing the scope and scale of a PIP, a thorough analysis of the social and economic characteristics data for the study area communities should be prepared. A preliminary inventory and mapping of community facilities and other notable features can be compiled from websites and secondary datasets and should include community gathering places (e.g., playgrounds, senior centers, schools, faith- based institutions, etc.) and natural or historic features such as important viewsheds. Field visits should be taken to verify the quality of the demographic and community facilities data compiled from secondary data sources. Before the field visit, the practitioner should reach out to knowledgeable persons from the community (e.g., city planners, municipal officials, neighborhood associations, etc.) to learn more about the area. Scheduling time to meet and conduct scoping-type interviews with select stakeholders will make it possible to discover community characteristics not revealed from maps or secondary sources. Field visits provide an opportunity to hear the languages spoken on the street, experience some of the everyday transportation problems, notice the age of cars parked in residential driveways, see who works the second-shift, identify areas where people gather, and examine the absence or presence of foot traffic on the street. The information obtained from the upfront site visit and interviews should be woven into the collected social and economic demographics and serve as the basis for establishing the scope and scale of the public involvement plan. Community facilities that would be particularly convenient to reach for neighborhood residents and other stakeholders should be noted. Most importantly, the observations and insights of the community impact practitioner and the public involvement professional should be shared with the project management team early enough to help shape the process to come. â¢ For the Business 40 Project, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) issued its first task order for the preparation of a PIP that would extend from planning through construction. NCDOT gave its consultants a month to collect social and economic demographic data, complete a physical reconnaissance of the project area, and identify and interview formal and informal leaders. During the field visit, 85 informal and formal leaders were interviewed,
3-10 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking local planning officials and large public and private employers were contacted, all streets within the project area were surveyed, all potential meeting places (e.g., faith-based organizations, recreation centers, schools, etc.) were inventoried, media representatives were contacted, and local food vendors were identified (see Figure 3-5). Following the field visit, a PIP was submitted to NCDOT for approval. More than 4 years later, the PIP remains intact after outreach to more than 21,000 members of the public. Develop and Maintain Community Contacts Database. Developing a community contacts database involves traditionally underserved populations in two ways. In creating the database, the practitioner and the agency are refining their knowledge of existing community organizations and leaders, gaining greater insight about which individuals and organizations have the capacity to engage traditionally underserved populations as part of their membership or constituency. The database itself is a valuable communications management tool. It will ensure that information is being targeted to as wide or narrow a range of community members as appropriate for a particular event. â¢ The Miami Dade MPO maintains a public involvement database that stores all correspon- dence from the public and creates customizable outreach lists. The database contains over 1,000 businesses and organizations that the MPOâs Public Involvement Office can call upon when organizing community outreach events, mailing newsletters, and for other correspondence. For example, the MPO distributes âCitizen Guidesâ in English, Spanish, and Creole, which are intended to assist the public in understanding the transportation planning process. The MPO also distributes a âCall for Ideasâ brochure to contacts in the public involvement database early in the plan development process (see Figure 3-6). Prepare a Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan. Individuals who have a limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English are considered to have limited English proficiency, or âLEP.â An LEP plan describes the policies, services, and information that a government agency, including transportation agencies, will take to ensure that LEP persons have meaningful access to the agencyâs programs and activities. The need for an LEP plan is set forward in Executive Figure 3-5. Early site visits included stops at âmom and popâ stores to discuss the most effective ways to identify transportation concerns for the Business 40 Project in WinstonâSalem.
Practical Approaches 3-11 Order 13166, âImproving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,â which reaffirms Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of national origin. All programs and activities of entities that receive assistance from the U.S.DOT, including FHWA and FTA, must comply with Executive Order 13166. The government has the obligation and responsibility to be accessible to its citizens and residents and communicate with them. An LEP plan will identify the size and locations of low-literacy populations and various foreign-born populations that may not speak English âvery wellâ as well as describe the most appropriate approaches that can be taken by the governing entity to ensure meaningful access is provided to all their programs and activities without imposing undue additional cost burdens. â¢ Caltrans has developed materials, posted to its LEP website, that include a training video for its staff which highlights appropriate language assistance strategies; a volunteer list of state transportation employees with certified bilingual capabilities (more than 60 languages and dialects) by department, âI Speakâ cards (explained later in this chapter), a list of interpreter and translator services that departmental staff have used as well as services for the visually- and hearing-impaired populations. California established an LEP protocol pamphlet for Caltrans employees who encounter the traveling public. The Highway Emergency Language Protocol (HELP) pamphlet was targeted to highway personnel to support communications with the public in six different languages. California DOT worked with the stateâs Department of Education to identify the largest student groups of limited-English-proficient students statewide. Using this information, the California Statewide Transportation Planâs tri-fold brochure was translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. â¢ LEP.gov, the website of the Federal Interagency Working Group on LEP, serves as a clearing- house of information, tools, and technical assistance regarding LEP and language services for federal agencies, recipients of federal funds, users of federal programs and federally assisted programs, and other stakeholders. Figure 3-6. The Miami-Dade MPO media events list is used to track comments and attendance at public events, among other issues.
3-12 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking â¢ The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) prepared a Language Access Plan with a four-factor analysis. The plan illustrates several strategies and tools it uses, including âI Speakâ cards and its 311 telephone service, and sets forward several actionable commitments with timelines to improve access to services for its customers (see Figures 3-7 and 3-8). Use âI Speakâ Cards to Ensure Communications with LEP Populations. âI Speakâ cards are two-sided bilingual cards that invite LEP persons to identify their language needs to transportation agency staff. Such cards, for instance, might read âI speak Spanishâ in both Span- ish and English. They may also include information about language access rights. These cards can be used to assist people with limited English proficiency in communicating their need for interpretive and translation services. â¢ Merrimack Valley MPO in Massachusetts outlines in its LEP plan that âI Speakâ cards will be provided at all workshops and conference sign-in tables. The Plan states that while inter- pretation may not be present at that particular meeting, the cards will help the MPO anticipate future needs. â¢ New Jersey DOT, Division of Statewide Traffic Operations outlines in their LEP Plan that âI Speakâ cards should be used when Emergency Service Patrol drivers come in contact with LEP persons and carried by all incident management response team (IMRT) member trucks. Offer Assistance for Hearing Impaired. Some hearing impaired or deaf individuals can speak and/or read lips while others may rely upon American Sign Language or written and visual information (see Figure 3-9). Others may not be able to write or read well. The first thing to do when encountering a person who is hearing impaired is to identify how the person communicates best. The advent of telephone texting has allowed many to receive and send information of 160 characters or less through their telephones. Because of this, it is important to obtain not only an individualâs email address, but also that personâs telephone number. Telephone texting has allowed project information, including short surveys, to be sent to those who are hearing impaired and deaf and for them to respond in a like manner. The telephoneâs vibration option provides them with notice that a message has been received. If possible, an annotated agenda for any upcoming meeting or a copy of the proposed presentation with notes can be sent to an individualâs email address prior to the meeting. This will give the recipient a general idea of topics under discussion and allow time to formulate any questions or comments for the project staff. When talking with individuals who are hearing impaired or deaf, the practitioner should always look directly at them and not at the individual that is signing the message or verbally relaying their response. If they read lips, the practitioner should not block their view of his/her face and should talk with them in a well lighted area, speaking in a normal and not an exaggerated manner, and using short, simple sentences. When releasing any written information (e.g., press releases, newspaper articles, emails, website, or newsletters), the practitioner should always provide the TTY number and ask if anyone needs a signer to be present. â¢ For the Business 40 Project in WinstonâSalem, sign language signers were provided during the first round of neighborhood meetings. This service and interpretation in Spanish were advertised in all written materials. â¢ The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) in Chicago has utilized Transopoly, a version of the âStrings and Ribbonsâ game (explained in Chapter 4) played with ribbons and dots. The game is a good process for identifying transportation infrastructure needs as part of the LRTP process. Transopoly is designed to engage a broad spectrum of people in transportation plan- ning, especially those who are unlikely to be familiar with professional planning terms and
Practical Approaches 3-13 Free Interpretation Service Available English Translation Point to your language. An interpreter will be called. The interpreter is provided at no cost to you. Michael R. Bloomberg Mayor Figures 3-7 and 3-8. NYCDOTâs Language Access Plan describes how it translated a bike lane informational brochure into Chinese and Spanish versions (top). The city uses language identification posters (bottom) and âI Speakâ cards to determine the primary language of customers.
3-14 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking methods because of limitations in their education or experience. The game has been played with residents who are deaf or hard of hearing, who cannot read, or who are sight impaired (see Figure 3-9). Offer Assistance for Sight Impaired. Some sight impaired or legally blind (20/200 vision) persons can distinguish colors and/or read large print while others may rely upon Braille materials or their hearing. When choosing colors for a display, practitioners should be aware that some people may be color blind and the name of the color should be written near it. Those who are elderly may require information in a large print format. Those who have a computer with a speech component and Internet access can access websites that are Section 508 (1973 Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1986) compliant. All federal agencies, and those agencies receiving federal funds or under contract with a federal agency, are required to comply with this law. For those who do not have computer access, radio reading services for the blind, public service announcements on radio and television, and news stories on radio and television are ways to get information to those that are sight impaired or blind. When encountering those who are sight impaired or blind at a public event, the practitioner should first introduce himself/herself and identify who he/she is and what role the practitioner plays on the project. The practitioner should be sure to describe information readily apparent to those who can see, and should indicate that new items have been brought into the environment, describing what they are, and where they have been put. The practitioner should offer to lead someone, but wait for them to accept his/her offer before proceeding, allowing them to hold his/ her arm rather than holding their arm so they can control their own movements. The practitio- ner should be descriptive when giving directionsââover thereâ has little meaning to someone who cannot see. The practitioner should instead say, âstarting at the corner of Main Street, then going south and crossing Wales Street and Ivey Street. . . .â Practitioners should describe things from the perspective of the impaired, not the practitionersâ. Some people who are blind use a âclockâ reference for things directly in front of them. If a blind person is accompanied by a guide dog, the practitioner should not interact with it while it is working (or, in the harness). â¢ The Volusia County MPO in Florida held a meeting with a sight-impaired group and adapted its âstrings and ribbonsâ game so the members could play as part of the public involvement outreach for their LRTP. Figure 3-9. Residents have used sign language to express their priorities for transportation spending in versions of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) Transopoly game.
practical approaches 3-15 Offer Assistance for Low-Literacy Populations. Literacy, as defined by the National Lit- eracy Act of 1991, is âan individualâs ability to read, write, and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve oneâs goals, and develop oneâs knowledge and potential.â Assistance offered to members of the public that are low literate varies depending upon their literacy level. Those who cannot read and/or write often give physical and verbal cluesâoften one person will sign in everyone, or someone will say they cannot sign in because their arthritis is bothering them, or they need to take the comments sheet home and think about what they want to say before they send it back. Having a well-known member of the community stand at the door and introduce residents to a scribe who takes down their name and contact information may help avoid any embarrassment. Giving a staff member a comment sheet, escorting residents through the displays, recording their comments as they speak among themselves, and reading these comments back to them for clarification can be an effective way of capturing residentsâ thoughts and concerns. Using a different color to identify each alternative and tying this color to a specific rendered typical section can clarify what an alternative looks like at different locations (see Figure 3-10). Comparing existing photographs to a proposed alternative rendering, showing a before picture morphing into finished concept, or creating a three-dimensional drive through can help simplify the most complex projects. Graphic representations of local facilities can be used as substitutes for words to help those with low-literacy (see Figure 3-11). â¢ The Mississippi DOT produces in-house videos for approximately 85 percent of its public hearings. For most projects, a 10 to 12 minute, continuously running loop is prepared. However, larger, more complex projects require longer videos. The video provides the public with background information before they proceed to the part of the public hearing where aerial photographs, cross section views, and alternatives are shown. Treat People Courteously and Respectfully. Members of all populations should be shown respect, addressed courteously, and treated with dignity. In social settings concerning projects, practitioners should adopt a style of interpersonal interactions that avoids seeming judgmental and recognizes differences. Agencies, in turn, should foster a culture of continued learning and adapt their policies, procedures, and services to be appropriately respectful to cultural differences and diverse populations. Beyond having good manners or treating people politelyâwhich is a great first stepâthis approach is about an outlook of developing habits of practices that respect cultural differences. The practitioner should seek to be mindful of cultural differences and recognize there will be differences in communication styles, in ways of learning, in attitudes toward conflict, in disclosure of information, in the ways tasks are completed, and in styles of decisionmaking. Developing a knowledge and appreciation of different cultural groups and individualsâtheir history, traditions, language or dialect, values, art and music, spiritual beliefsâcan reveal positive attributes of a particular culture or community. In addition to instilling greater respect, it can lead the practitioner to discover better strategies for reaching diverse populations. Agencies and practitioners can utilize many techniques to treat people courteously and with respect at meetings, workshops, and other events in the field, but, depending on the context, some techniques can be wildly inadequate or more effective for a particular population or setting. Getting out into the field can be a great way outside meetings and workshops to engage the public as well as a means to publicize upcoming meeting events. In addition, training community residents to conduct interviews can be a very effective way of gaining real insights into community life. â¢ For the Colorado Department of Transportationâs I-70 Project in Denver and NCDOT Business 40 Project in WinstonâSalem, local residents were hired to interview people in their community,
3-16 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking providing temporary jobs for folks living near the project corridor and eliminating the need to train outsiders. Residents selected to be field staff were instructed on appropriate etiquette and procedures to protect their personal safety in the field (see Figure 3-12). Assess Public Involvement Plan (PIP) Effectiveness. The PIPâs effectiveness should be periodically assessed to determine if the goals and objectives established in the PIP were achieved. The PIP should be changed to improve future performance in response to the assessment. The PIP should include specific strategies for reaching affected traditionally underserved populations. The assessment should determine if the practices were effective in reaching each of these populations and, equally important, whether the events and processes created opportunities for meaningful involvement. It is entirely possible that it may be necessary to do something different to involve traditionally underserved populations. Including the traditionally underserved populations as target populations in the PIP assumes that the planâs developers have determined, either formally or informally, the need to reach out and involve them. The inclusion of the affected population in the development of effective- ness measures aids in identifying goals, objectives, and practices that are meaningful to both Figures 3-10 and 3-11. Different colors can represent each alternative and the color can be tied to a specific rendered typical section to clarify what an alternative looks like at different locations (top). Symbols can be used instead of words for low-literacy populations (bottom).
practical approaches 3-17 planners and to the community. The assessment may be done at different stages of the project (e.g., project planning, detailed design and construction documents, and construction), as well as at the end of the project and monitoring. The process of assessing the PIPâs effectiveness should be accessible to the public. â¢ The Ohio DOT, Opportunity Corridor, Environmental Justice Analysis. Over a 6-month pe- riod, the Ohio DOT held two kick-off meetings and six neighborhood meetings for their Opportunity Corridor project in Cleveland. Black and low-income populations are located within the corridorâs study area. Following a series of meetings, an environmental justice analysis was undertaken to assess the level of participation by the affected populations within the corridorâs study area. Sign-in sheets provided at each of the eight meetings were used to locate the addresses of attendees, utilizing color-coded âsticky stripsâ to pinpoint addresses on a large aerial map. Each meeting was assigned a unique color with corresponding color âsticky strips.â There were 570 attendees at the events, but only 141 of them gave an address within the corridorâs study area. Similar assessments were conducted for each of the events to consider whether the event location influenced attendance by the environmental justice populations living within the corridor area. The findings from this analysis were helpful in determining possible different locations, times of day/night, and days of the week/weekend for the next series of public meetings. â¢ The Hillsborough County (FL) MPO adopted evaluation measures to assess the effectiveness of its proactive public involvement process. Their public participation plan (PPP) is regularly updated. The PPP is refined through a series of reviews and recommendations that are enhanced by ongoing feedback, surveys, and updates that coincide with each LRTP update. In addition, the MPO provides information on its website, via newsletters, interactive web tools, Twitter feeds, online surveys, email comment access, and mailing lists. The MPO publishes a bien- nial Public Participation Measures of Effectiveness Report that details PPP activities during the period, projects or plans addressed, the number of attendees or participants, suggested refine- ments to the PPP, and a summary of activities and results. The effectiveness report includes a measure of the numbers of meetings and attendees from designated âenvironmental justiceâ areas. The publication itself provides an opportunity for the public to comment on the effectiveness of the PPP. Figure 3-12. A one-day training session prepared residents for their neighborhood outreach activities for the I-70 Corridor project.
3-18 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Offer Refreshments. Refreshments foster a more relaxed setting and put people at ease. Providing food at a meeting can be a way to increase meeting attendance. It allows parents to pick up their child at the day care facility or at home and come directly to the meeting without having to eat first. When people go home first to eat supper, their willingness to attend a meeting may wane and they may remain at home. Having a meal at a meeting can provide an incentive for someone who is low income to attend a meeting. Often having a meal at a meeting provides neighbors an opportunity to get together and becomes a reason to attend the event. Serving refreshments also provides a time and space for people unwilling to speak out in a crowd to have one-on-one discussions and ask questions in a less formal setting. When served in the middle of a meeting, refreshments can enliven, reinvigorate, or refresh a group that has become tired, bored, or frustrated. Serving more substantial refreshments can also be a way to get around holding meetings at times that may conflict with meals (see Figure 3-13) Brand Project through Clothing and Other Paraphernalia. Branding projects through clothing and other paraphernalia visually identifies members of the project team in the field or at public events. Clothing and other paraphernalia can include one or multiple distinct articles of clothing such as t-shirts, hats, jackets, badges, and the like. It brings attention to members of the project team, giving them an identity in places where they may not be known. It can be difficult to enter a community as an outsider where trust has not yet been established. Branding projects in this fashion makes it easier for community members to see that outsiders have a purpose for being there. By making team members easily identifiable, they will be more approachable and open to receive comments and questions from the public. This can also ensure a certain level of accountability among project team members because it instills in them the idea that they are representing the project to the public. Figure 3-13. Design fair attendees cooled off with popsicles while developing traffic calming and safety improvements for the Hoopa Valley Reservation.
practical approaches 3-19 â¢ The SR126 Project in Kingsport, Tennessee expected a large turnout for a meeting event with a segment of the public highly interested in venting concerns over past project controversies. All members of the project teamâpublic agency employees and consultantsâwore green shirts with the specific intention of being visible and receptive to a skeptical public (see Figure 3-14). â¢ The I-70 East Project Team in Denver, Colorado, wore yellow shirts with project logos and photo identification badges. At meetings, the project sponsors from the Colorado DOT and the Regional Transit District and consultant project staff also wore these branded shirts (see Figure 3-15). â¢ The Business 40 Project in WinstonâSalem, North Carolina, utilized orange t-shirts with logos and photo identification badges. During the winter months, orange jackets the same color as the t-shirts were worn. During public meetings, NCDOT and consultant project staff also wore orange t-shirts. Figures 3-14 (top) and 3-15 (bottom). Branding projects with colorful logos and coordinating apparel makes the project team easily visible and approachable, open to comments and questions from the public at events.
3-20 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Provide Information Providing information to the public is a duty of transportation agencies and applies to nearly all stages of transportation decisionmaking. U.S. citizens are entitled to access information from their government to responsibly interact with officials and to have sufficient information to question government decisions. Traditionally underserved populations, no less than other segments of the public, are entitled to interact with transportation agencies to (1) communicate their needs and con- cerns, (2) assess the potential impacts of government agency decisions, and (3) learn about oppor- tunities to influence decision-making processes. Providing information to traditionally underserved populations may require an agency to look more closely at its typical practices and adjust them, if needed, to better advertise events, to describe its activities (i.e., policies, programs, plans, projects) in a way that clearly conveys coming changes or potential impacts, and to work with affected commu- nities, where warranted, to facilitate their informed involvement on projects that may affect them. Information should not be wrapped in mystifying technical jargon, but designed for âregular folks.â The importance of presenting information clearly should not be minimized or treated cavalierly. The credibility of the agencyâs decision-making process and the legitimacy of the proposed action can be undermined by a poor communications strategy or insufficient transparency. Inadequate disclosure of information and insufficient candor about project issues can easily backfire, stoking greater opposition and controversy, which can cause the agency to lose control over their project as it endures delays, political wrangling, and even legal proceedings. Use Videos to Convey Information. Videos are a proven means for drawing attention and making material more digestible to a wider audience. Video may be particularly useful in presenting information to LEP persons. It can be disseminated widely to promote a message, frame issues of concern, or deliver information to stakeholders. â¢ The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has produced more than a dozen TV shows and videos that are posted on its website and highlight key planning issues confronting the metro- politan region. The Changing Faces of Our Region examines the changing social composition of the region. Increasing ethnic diversity and the aging of the baby boomers has transformed the regionâs residents and workforce. The video offers key facts and observations from national and regional experts about the implications of these changes (see Figure 3-16). Figure 3-16. Screenshot from ARCâs The Changing Faces of Our Region video, which explored Atlantaâs demographics for their long-range plan.
practical approaches 3-21 â¢ Sound Transit in Seattle, Washington, used the production of videos in a student film competitionâand the publicity surrounding itâto spread an educational message about pedestrian safety for at-grade light rail crossings. The student films were posted online through the agencyâs website and on YouTube. The contest brought favorable attention to their campaign. â¢ Caltrans has developed an LEP training video and uses it for staff training on how best to interact with customers requiring language assistance. Caltrans maintains video archives for a range of other projects, programs, and activities on its website. Distribute Flyers. Flyers can effectively provide information to traditionally underserved populations because they provide flexibility in information dissemination. Flyers can be placed at community activity centers frequented by traditionally underserved populations, written in the language and tone that will best communicate to those populations. Activity centers where flyers are posted can include public buildings such as libraries and post offices, community and senior centers, places of worship, as well as local businesses such as grocery stores, hair salons, and cafes. Flyers can be posted for all to see, and copies of the flyers can be left for people to take with them. Flyers can also be distributed during âwalk-throughsâ in residential neighborhoods (see Figure 3-17). â¢ For the Business 40 Project in WinstonâSalem, NCDOT conducted surveys in neighborhoods. Once the surveys were completed, a series of neighborhood meetings was held. Outreach specialists posted flyers in each neighborhood prior to each meeting. â¢ For the South Coast Rail Project, the Massachusetts DOT advertised station area workshops with English, Spanish, and Portuguese-language flyers. â¢ For the Buford Highway Pedestrian Safety Project, the Georgia DOT spread the word about a survey being conducted at a public mall by distributing flyers printed in both English and Spanish to all apartment complex managers and business owner/operators within the project corridor. Advertise on Billboards, Marquees, and Variable Message Signs. Billboards and mar- quees are a way to display large-scale advertisements in highly-visible places, such as alongside high- ways or on the sides of buildings (see Figures 3-18 and 3-19). Billboards, marquees, and variable Figure 3-17. Flyers were left in small orange bags hung on the door knobâto reduce nuisance to residents from litterâannouncing neighborhood meetings for the Business 40 Project in WinstonâSalem.
3-22 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking messaging signs can draw attention and communicate a simple message to a captive community traveling through an area. They can be used to advertise for a public event, provide notification of upcoming construction, direct people to an online survey, or thank the community for their involvement. Because of their prominent placement and high visibility, billboards can be particu- larly effective in reaching groups that are not currently engaged in the topic and creating a buzz about the issue. â¢ Ridewise, a nonprofit in Somerset County, New Jersey, used variable message signs to advertise an online commuter survey about an upcoming roadway corridor project along Route 202. Over 1,000 online surveys were collected from commuters over the two-month period during which the survey was posted. â¢ A plan for Traffic Calming and Safety Improvements for the Hoopa Valley Reservation was deeply informed by the Hoopa Design Fair eventâa several day design charette process held on the reservation. Banners were prominently displayed on a local building in the days leading up to the event. Figures 3-18 and 3-19. Variable messaging signs can grab the attention of the traveling public (top). Prominent display of banner announced a design fair to be held on the Hoopa Valley Reservation (bottom).
practical approaches 3-23 Publicize through Local and Ethnic Media Outlets. Local and ethnic media outlets are key means for reaching populations not necessarily relying upon âregularâ media outlets (see Figures 3-20 and 3-21). âLocalâ refers to neighborhood media such as weekly newspapers targeting a particular part of town or a neighborhood. âEthnic mediaâ refers to media in a particular language, such as Spanish or Arabic, or English-language media directed to a particular ethnic group such as Asian Americans or Blacks. Local media will focus on neighborhood- related information, so people in that neighborhood are very likely to read it since they know it will contain news about things that may directly affect them. Ethnic media outlets are tailored to the language and cultural interests of the group to which they are targeted. Many ethnic groups look for the media that is directed at them because they know it will have information about activities and persons that are likely to be of interest to them. The overall readership or listener- ship may be less than the larger, mainstream media outlets, but they are relevant to particular populations and consequently the information can reach its intended audience. â¢ The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) regularly sends news releases, requests for coverage, public service announcements, and requests for interviews to Spanish-language and Figure 3-20. Miami Dade MPO participated in a âcall-inâ radio show for the local Haitian community. Figure 3-21. Local cable coverage of South Carolina DOTâs Route 6 widening project in Lexington, South Carolina, increased awareness and turnout.
3-24 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking local community media with minority audiences. TxDOT have purchased ads and paid for legal notices in Spanish and in local community newspapers with a high minority readership. For a project along the border, they even sent press releases to the newspapers on the Mexican side to be able to reach more of the stakeholders on both sides of the border who used the international bridges. Employ Visualization Techniques. Making visualizations an integral part of any presen- tation, newsletter, PowerPoint presentations, website, or newspaper article provides the public with a picture of what is actually being proposed. This increases the publicâs awareness of the project and allows individuals to consider how the project may affect their lives, communicate this information and awareness to others, and participate more fully in transportation decision- making. Depending on the size and complexity of a project and its budget, a variety of visual techniques can be used (see Figures 3-22 and 3-23). If the project is a simple roadway widening, before-and-after photos can be used: one photo would show the existing âbeforeâ condition and a photographic rendering would show the âafterâ condition. This technique provides a relatively inexpensive way to show several widening Figures 3-22 and 3-23. Visualizations used at public meetings involving comparisons of alternatives and different concepts for a specific location (top) and use of different colors and widths of lines to indicate size of traffic volumes (bottom).
practical approaches 3-25 alternatives at the same location and/or at different locations. If the project is a more com- plex widening, before-and-after pictures or a computer-generated series of different pictures (i.e., a morph) can be used. The morph representation starts out as a still photograph and then slowly adds features, such as additional lanes, a planted median, bike lanes, sidewalks, or bus pull offs. This presentation can be repeated in 30-second cycles. If the project is a new multi-lane road, a computer-generated â3D drive throughâ can draw interest. The simulation can show what it would be like to drive the new facility, but it is more expensive to produce. Photo images of communities and visualizations of future conditions are often appealing (see Figure 3-24). But they can also undermine public trust in projects and sponsoring agencies when the photos or illustrations fail to reflect the diversity of the community within a subject area. This can be a problem, in particular, when âbeforeâ and âafterâ visualizations are depicted of future community life. Practitioners should critically assess their photographs, digital library, and visualizations: How diverse is the library? Are there hidden biases in terms of race, ethnicity, income, and age, among other considerations? â¢ The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) sponsored a photo contest, inviting people of all ages to take photographs and share them with ARC staff members, explaining what their images represented. The approach gave ARC greater insight into what residents valued most and what they wanted to change. ARC uploaded the pictures to Flickr, a social media platform, to share with others. Metro Atlanta Arts and Cultural Coalition, an arts-advocacy organization, served as ARCâs advisors and representatives of the Boys and Girls Club, the museum community, and Atlanta Celebrates Photography, among other organizations, judged the submissions and selected four winners. â¢ For the Northwest Huntersville Area Study, consultants working with the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Town of Huntersville, North Carolina, used visualization software to present traffic simulations of the proposed roadway network alterna- tives. A two-minute video was created for each of the three alternatives. The videos were used in a series of public meetings to show the proposed roadway networks displayed with aerial photography, and the future year 2030 traffic operations. â¢ The Mississippi DOT produces in-house videos for approximately 85 percent of their public hearings. For most projects, a 10 to 12 minute, continuously running loop is prepared. Larger, more complex projects may require longer videos. Each video begins with the DOTâs Executive Director welcoming citizens to the meeting and providing an introduction to the project. Environmental and project development project processes are described, specific issues are identified, and the projectâs purpose and need are discussed. Footage of the project corridor is shown from a driverâs perspective, and environmentally sensitive areas are highlighted. Figure 3-24. The Atlanta BeltLine Redevelopment Plan prepared for the Atlanta Development Authority drew upon a digital library that envisioned a future recreational trail accessed by the regionâs diverse communities.
3-26 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Conduct Periodic Field Visits. An upfront site visit is critically important at the beginning of a project, but periodic field visits throughout the duration of a project are also valuable. Patterns of life can vary during different times of the year, elected and appointed officials can change, development priorities can shift, and natural disasters can occur. Some changes are attributable to local conditions or customs, but others are shaped by broader national, economic, religious, or seasonal forces or currents (see Figure 3-25). For example, from Thanksgiving through the middle of January, many workers will use their leave rather than lose it and are not at their place of work. âBlack Friday,â the day after Thanksgiving, marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and is the busiest shopping day of the year with stores opening their doors before dawn or open 24 hours that day. Religious events such as Ramadan, a one-month period in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset, will affect when peak traffic periods occur in some places. Prior to making any field visit, local cal- endars should be examined to identify potential event conflicts or opportunities to piggy-back on planned events. Field visits also provide occasions for staff to touch base with residents and leaders to help build their relationships with individuals and communities. Staff can use these visits to demon- strate that they have not only heard the concerns of the local residents and leaders, but how they have responded to them. The field visits can be a means for building or restoring trust in communities where it has never existed or had been broken, and for fortifying existing relationships. Staff can also gain a better understanding of the inner workings and fabric of communities, the inter dependencies of families and individuals, and what locals truly value and why. â¢ For the U.S. Route 17 Project, NCDOTâs consultant staff timed a field trip for the second week in November, dovetailing their outreach activities to a national election day. Voter registration offices were contacted to identify polling places along or near the subject corridor, discovering that more than 70 percent of the registered voters in three targeted precincts had voted in the last election. Advised that they could station themselves relatively close to polling place entrances, consultant staff brought along tables, chairs, project signs, copies of project maps, Figure 3-25. The Alaska DOT will work with the Association of Village Council Presidents, a coordinating nonprofit tribal organization, to ensure turnout of Alaskan Natives in southwest Alaska. Scheduling meetings during hunting season is generally avoided.
practical approaches 3-27 newsletters, information about an upcoming public meeting, as well as cookies and soft drinks (see Figure 3-26). Not surprisingly, candidate representatives were also in the vicinity passing out literature, including members of a local Black caucus. Consulting staff introduced them- selves to caucus members and asked if they would be willing to direct their voters over to the project table to take a project survey. They agreed and with their help staff members were able to ensure that Blacks were provided with the opportunity to be surveyed. White voters were also interviewed by staff at these three locations. â¢ For the Business 40 Project, NCDOTâs consultant staff contacted the management of a local mall in WinstonâSalem to rent space inside the building at its main entrance. On Black Friday and the following Saturday, project consulting staff dressed in their orange project shirts informed shoppers about the Business 40 project, passed out project information, and conducted more than 800 surveys. Surveys were also taken in surrounding strip malls (see Figure 3-27). Figures 3-26 and 3-27. By setting up a table and chairs near a polling place, voters could be approached and asked to take a survey for the U.S. Route 17 project (top). Shoppers were intercepted in parking lots of strip shopping centers and inside the entrance of a Winston-Salem mall to take a survey for the Business 40 project (bottom).
3-28 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Gather Feedback Gathering feedback from all populations, including the traditionally underserved, is critical to formulating transportation solutions that will meet the needs of users and address the concerns of affected communities where facilities and services are to be sited. Traditionally underserved populations may represent a significant portion of the transportation networkâs users, or bear the burden of potential transportation impacts, yet oftentimes they are not heard from during the decision-making process. Their feedback is particularly needed in the earlier stages of decisionmaking, such as statewide and metropolitan planning, and project development/NEPA compliance as well as in applied research to support policy development. Tools and techniques for gathering feedback include methods for engaging those who do not attend traditional public events as well as creative mechanisms for collecting their input. Gathering feedback from the traditionally underserved may require the broad application of a general technique (such as holding a meeting in every neighborhood of a study area), or efforts targeted towards specific populations, such as conducting focus groups. Conduct Outreach at Nontraditional Locations. Holding formal and informal events and activities at nontraditional locations is an invaluable means for connecting to traditionally underserved populations. Depending on the targeted population, these locations will vary signi ficantly. They may include places of worship, community centers, social service agencies, settlement houses, senior centers, meeting rooms in apartment complexes, restaurants, hair salons or barber shops, feed stores, shopping malls, convenience stores, community fairs, sport- ing events, and any other place where traditionally underserved populations may congregate. Practitioners have repeatedly found that by going to places where traditionally underserved populations meet, rather than waiting for them to come to an agencyâs event, those who are in attendance are likely to feel more comfortable. Not all who are encountered will have an interest in learning more about transportation matters, but there will be a segment in attendance that are willing to listen, curious about what the practitioner has to say, and prepared to give candid feedback. â¢ Caltrans has found that setting up information tables at high school football games, a major event in small farming communities in Californiaâs Central Valley, can be a highly effective method for distributing information and getting feedback. Caltrans has used this approach for specific transportation projects and updates of the Statewide Transportation Plan. Caltrans will also distribute flyers or door hangers throughout the project area or send information to churches and schools before their attendance at the games. â¢ Washington State DOT practitioners attended community fairs, festivals, and community markets (e.g., farmers markets and flea markets) as a way to engage members of the public who may not have been aware of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project Supplemental Draft EIS involving the demolition of a viaduct and bored tunnel alternatives. Informational booths were set up at approximately 150 fairs, festivals, and farmers markets throughout the Seattle area over a 4-year period. Many of these events were sponsored by traditionally under represented communities. Materials on display at information booths have been trans- lated into Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog, and Spanish. For several years, multilingual high school students fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese were hired to interact with LEP booth visitors for the ChinatownâInternational District Festival. Go to âTheirâ Meetings. Cosponsorship, participation in, or other support of meetings held by advocacy groups, employers, and human service or public agencies that serve traditionally underserved populations can effectively reach target populations âwhere they live.â This practice provides opportunities to build partnerships with groups and agencies with expertise in working
practical approaches 3-29 with the target groups and often can build trust. Practitioners can begin by creating an asset map or database of associations, employers, and institutions that work with the target populations in the study area. The association and institutional database can be used to identify contacts within the organizations to advise on issues affecting the target communities, meetings, and key individuals. Working with these contacts, it may prove effective to work through their media (e.g., newsletters, websites, etc.) to exchange information. For example, practitioners may want to write short pieces for their newsletters, providing contact information or other facts about ongoing projects, or request to add links to their websites regarding a proposed project or other action. Adding supplementary materials to their mailings about a project can also work. Keep in mind that the âmeetingâ may not actually occur at a gathering. The real goal is to âreach people where they are.â The organizationâs contacts and key individuals may provide infor- mation through informal discussions, structured interviews, or review of plans or other proposed actions. Request to be included on the agenda of meetings that the organizations may hold for their client groups. At such events, practitioners should be prepared to discuss information about the proposed project, solicit input, and describe the type of follow-up that will occur after the meeting. â¢ Seattle Neighborhood Plan. In a two-month period, Seattleâs neighborhood planning process mobilized liaisons to host 41 workshops and small group discussions throughout Southeast Seattle that were attended by 1,200 participants that represented 14 historically underrepresented communities. Events were held at convenient locations, including community centers, senior citizen centers, community service organizations, churches, apartment buildings, assisted living facilities, high schools, and libraries. The liaisons held 21 follow-up workshops and discussion groups to further refine concepts that had been raised during the prior workshop series, which had engaged over 700 participants. Transportation improvements discussed during the process included better maintained sidewalks, adequate street lighting, imple- mentation of new technologies to assist pedestrians with disabilities, crosswalk improvements, multilingual traffic control signs, and better pedestrian and bicycle connections to the new light rail stations, among others (see Figure 3-28). Figure 3-28. The Beacon Tower Tea Time Group met at a Seattle Housing Authority apartment building. The Chinese Information Service Center (CISC), an advocacy settlement organization for Asian immigrants, provided another venue for Chinese Community Workshops.
3-30 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking â¢ The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS), for its long-range plan update, hosted a series of focus groups targeted to underserved populations or people that do not traditionally participate in the transportation planning process, including minorities, persons with disabilities, college students, and parents with young children. COMPASS partnered with other organizations, actively engaging these groups and going to their venues to meet with them. For example, COMPASS partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to organize a focus group for older and retired people, collaborated with a parents group at a church to meet parents of young children, and worked with the social services agency responsible for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC Program) to organize a meeting for low-income individuals. COMPASS also met with a leadership club of teens and young adult refugees. Staff worked with the club organizers and held a focus group at one of their scheduled club meetings. Go to the Schools. Working with the administration and teachers of local elementary, middle, or high schools is an effective means to reach the children and youth of minority, low-income, and LEP households via assemblies, flyers, classroom projects, and other events. Transportation practitioners can work with the student populations to publicize information about upcoming plans and projects, explore transportation needs, and solicit the views of parents and caregivers as to convenient times and places for meetings, preferences for particular project alternatives, or perceived impacts from projects. Students, in some cases, can also serve as the connecting party to linguistically isolated, low-literacy, and single-parent households, facilitating opportunities for dialogues and communications with hard-to-reach communities (see Figure 3-29). â¢ The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) partnered with three low-income elementary schools with diverse minority populations in Racine, Kenosha, and Milwaukee that were affected by the reconstruction of Interstate 94â35 miles of repaving, ramp changes, and lane additions from the Illinois state line through Racine and Kenosha to central Milwaukee. WisDOT began working with their public outreach consultant to adapt a weeklong Careers in Motion curriculum, which brings practitioners into fifth-grade classrooms to discuss careers in transportation and to examine how the project would affect the communities (see Figure 3-30). Each day for a week, practitioners spent about two hours with students and worked on engineering-related projects like building model bridges out of popsicle sticks. On another day, the students had to map plans for new roads and bridges, the construction of which would not impact neighborhoods or the environment. Students submitted designs for a mural to cover the noise barrier that separated the school from the highway, and when a winner was chosen, WisDOT brought in an artist to paint it. The Careers in Motion program received favorable press but also created a pipeline to community parents to get them information about the project and about how they could participate further. â¢ For NCDOTâs Route 17 project, a community impact practitioner met with an elementary school principal to get a better understanding of the social characteristics and needs of the local community likely to be affected by the roadway project. The principal challenged the practitioner to give a presentation to her fourth and fifth grade students, hoping to expose her students who mostly come from low-income and sometimes low-literacy households, to possible future career directions. The CIA practitioner accepted the assignment and developed a slide presentation, âWhere Do Roads Come From,â and a âtake homeâ item targeted to parents. Children were promised a âcertificate of participationâ as a reward for those who returned their âtake homeâ item which required their parentsâ signature. Nearly all students were rewarded with this certificate. The approach helped the CIA team inform a segment of the public about the project and solicit input as to the best time and place for future meetings.
practical approaches 3-31 Go to the Faith-Based Institutions. Faith-based institutions can be a very effective venue for holding events and providing information to, and getting feedback from, the institutionâs leadership and lay membership about transportation, social, or other community-related issues. Practitioners have found that working in partnership with the institution and/or seeking its endorsement can encourage participation and/or build support for plans and projects. The insti- tutionâs staff and members can be engaged to assist in data collection (e.g., survey administration, interviewing, etc.) and information dissemination. They can also be partners in monitoring and evaluation of projects, plans, and so forth. Their continuing involvement can help to build trust and âcementâ relations during the life of the project and future actions. The approach can involve the broader faith-based community affected by the project, provide contacts to the affected community, and act as a conduit for information exchange on project updates. Public meetings in faith-based institutions can establish the trust needed to conduct focus groups, interviews, surveys, and the like, among various committees, boards, subgroups (e.g., women, youth, âsoupâ kitchens, etc.) affiliated with the institution. The institution can also act as a partner in information dissemination and gathering. Figures 3-29 and 3-30. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District office (top) and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (bottom) have used student classrooms to raise awareness of real-world issues and to draw their parentsâ attention to projects and upcoming events.
3-32 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Faith-based institutions are effective in involving traditionally underserved populations for several reasons. They may be the only way of reaching some underserved populations who might otherwise be suspicious of government; standard outreach and public involvement activities will not overcome this distrust. Some minority groups may not feel welcomed by the general populaceâfor example, because of religious intolerance (e.g., âIslamophobiaâ) or because of undocumented status. Faith-based institutions are often dedicated to fostering a deeper appre- ciation, recognition, and understanding of other cultures and may be perceived as particularly safe venues for promoting outreach. Faith-based institutions, in serving their constituents, often overlap and coordinate with human service agencies. Therefore, it is possible to find individuals in both the faith-based institutions and in the social service agencies that truly understand and can express problems or issues confronted by local populations. Their knowledge and insights about the affected populations or their clientele are often effective in devising outreach and communications strategies that will make it possible to disseminate information and receive meaningful feedback. â¢ For the State Route 28 Wenatchee Eastside Corridor Study (aka the Sunset Highway), the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) broadened its public involvement activities to work with four faith-based institutions serving the Hispanic community. Building upon the relationships already fostered by the faith-based institutions and the Hispanic com- munity, WSDOT and its consultants arranged for announcements to be made from the pulpits. The public involvement effort interwove outreach for the transportation study with the activities of existing meetings, such as those held at churches, and by using familiar locations as venues for outreach. In some instances, the churches were located outside of the project area, but served people affected by the project. WSDOTâs efforts successfully engaged leaders and participation from several disparate groups, drawing interest and attendees from a mobile home park with a high Hispanic population, the agricultural community, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Newsletters about the proposed activities also were provided in English and Spanish to provide information and feedback. â¢ The San AntonioâBexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization employed a âbeaconâ for the development of the East Corridor Multi-modal Alternatives Plan in San Antonio, TX. The project team met with the Coalition of Churches for Social Action (CCSA), an East Side faith- based organization, to get input and feedback on the project as well as to get help conducting outreach with their predominantly Black church membership. The preachers announced the public meetings in their churches, spoke with their members about the importance of the plan, and one of the preachers attended the public meeting. The preachers were instrumental in spreading the word about the potential impact of the plan on the transportation needs of that region of the city, increasing attendance at public meetings, and enhancing knowledge of the project. Apply Social and New Media Appropriately. Social media are tools and methods to increase social interaction among persons with common interests. Users are able to link with other users and share information in a variety of online formats. The resulting networks allow users to be content producers as well as content consumers. New media is a broad term that encompasses the blending of traditional media such as film, images, music, spoken and written word, with the interactive power of computer and communications technology, computer-enabled consumer devices, and, most importantly, the Internet. New media suggests new possibilities for on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device. User feedback, creative participation, and community formation around the media content in an interactive relationship with the media consumer are features of new media. Social and new media applications have the potential to effectively involve traditionally underserved populations with their innovative approaches and accessible content. They have the potential to build social capital by strengthening
practical approaches 3-33 connections and increasing the flow of information. Social and new media applications have been increasing dramatically for public involvement activities. Web 2.0 is an umbrella term for websites or online applications that are user-driven and emphasize collaboration and user interactivity such as wikis, blogs, podcasts, and social networking sites. The public sector has begun to move away from static web pages and toward a user-driven Internet model through greater use of dynamic web pages and âgovernment 2.0â applications to promote transparent governance and citizen involvement in decisionmaking. Web applications termed 2.0 are distinguished from earlier generation online resources because they emphasize greater participation in content creation, editing, or distribution by users, as well as the ability to deliver information (e.g., online government data) customized to the userâs specific interests or requests through web-based applications. As promising as these innovations may be for enhancing interactive communications with the public, these tools may fail to reach segments of the population including traditionally underserved populations. Segments of the population may be slow to adopt new technologies, or may be infrequent users, due to costs of accessing high-speed Internet services, visual impairment, low-literacy, language barriers, lack of computer literacy, or discomfort with the technological changes being made. Nonetheless, the era of digital and mobile technology is rapidly progress- ing for the majority of the U.S. population able to possess and adapt to life with the emerging technologies. For example, cell phone usage continues to grow among nearly all populations, including minority and low-income households. With mobile technology, it is possible to send and receive text messages so although many poor do not have Internet access through a home computer, they may be able to receive text messages. Looking ahead, the benefits and limitations of social media and new media applications for reaching various segments of the affected populations will be a recurring issue for transportation agencies. Practitioners should critically assess the quality of the interactions that are facilitated by using various technologies. The core question should remain how best to deploy and adapt new technologies in service of promoting meaningful participation, including how best to reach traditionally underserved communities in light of differences in mastery or preference for these technologies (see Figure 3-31). â¢ FHWA and the Volpe Center have prepared case studies of seven state DOTsâ efforts at developing Web 2.0 tools for transportation. The case studies are based upon discussions with agency contacts and review of related documents and describe each agencyâs approach to development of Web 2.0 tools such as a blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other applications, the challenges encountered, and the lessons learned in design and implementation. â¢ For the Southwest Georgia Interstate Study, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) conducted surveys via the Internet that were accessed by students from their schools. This approach reached all homes with school-aged children in a large, predominantly rural and low-density region, overcoming the lack of Internet access in homes. By working with the public schools, the approach dealt with the Internetâs relatively low penetration rate in rural area homes. Tapping the schoolsâ access to the Internet, combined with other flexible strategies, ensured that the project team was able to leverage the Internet as a low-cost means for delivering project-related materials and that a relatively isolated segment of the study area population was given access to information being shared about the project. Conduct Market Research Interviews and Focus Groups. Interviews and focus group meetings can be effective methods for exploring the transportation needs and practices of tra- ditionally underserved populations. Different population groups have distinct transportation needs and preferences, travel behavior characteristics, and values. Especially for low-income persons and groups with limited literacy or English proficiency, gleaning those needs and values
3-34 Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking can present a challenge for transportation practitioners. With proper pre-planning, face-to-face meetings can eliminate literacy, language, and cultural barriers. They can help practitioners develop a better understanding of how various population segments access transportation ser- vices and travel, which can vary significantly depending on the group. â¢ The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) contracted with the University of Minnesotaâs State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) to study the transportation values and practices of Hispanics, Somalis, and Hmong populations in urban, suburban, and rural environments. From the focus groups, SLPP was able to produce a study identifying that the communities did indeed have specific transportation needs and values for which there were policy implications. Some of the major opportunities that emerged for improving mobility and accessibility to these immigrant communities included rural and urban car-sharing programs and increased investment in public transit. Information gathered during a focus group with Somali participants living in a rural area eventually led to the extension of a bus line that reached an employment center. â¢ The New Jersey Department of Transportation, working in association with New Jersey Transit, contracted with New Jerseyâs Institute of Technology to prepare a policy research report on the Mobility Information Needs of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Travelers in New Jersey. One of the study task elements was the design and conduct of ten focus groups with LEP populations to understand their travel needs. Community colleges were contacted as well Figure 3-31. The Michigan DOT (MDOT) partnered with the state library for their stateâs long range plan. The library promoted an online survey which helped MDOT reach disadvantaged populations who frequent libraries and use their computers.
practical approaches 3-35 as private, nonprofit organizations and communities groups who offer English as a second language (ESL) classes in churches, night schools, and community centers. The research team contacted several types of community organizations working with LEP populationsâ churches, weekend schools, career to family centers, among othersâto explore their willingness to host focus group discussions about their mobility information needs. The study team also contacted the Hispanic Development Corporation, Polish TV stations, Italian newspapers, and various consulates from particular community groups to locate LEP populations. â¢ The Mineta Transportation Institute examined how very low-income households manage the costs of travel and, in the face of a significant financial burden, the mobility strategies that they adopt to reach jobs and needed services. Interviews were conducted with 73 low-income people living in and around San Jose, California. The research design and implementation of interviews were conducted by graduate research assistants and undergraduates in anthropology at San Jose State University. CommUnivCity, a town-gown collaboration whose mission is to strengthen ties between a disadvantaged neighborhood, the university, and faith-based community services organizations, was instrumental in recruiting interviewees. The inter- views explored how families manage their mobility needs, given the sometimes crushing costs of travel in both out-of-pocket costs and time. Undertake Surveys to Understand Needs, Preferences, and Impacts. Surveys and questionnaires can be used at any stage of project decisionmaking, but are particularly applicable to the policy research, planning, and project development stages. They can be used to solicit preferences and needs, priorities for project investments, and the perceived impacts of various project alternatives, among other topics. They can be an effective tool in determining the best way to conduct outreach in specific communities (e.g., What newspapers or publications do you read? What time of day is most convenient for you to attend meetings?, etc.). They can be used to gather information remotely from a wide range of diverse stakeholders via telephone, email, websites, or hotlines. And they can be used as a tool to improve direct communications through intercept or in-person interviewing conducted in target communities or with specific stakeholders. Surveys and questionnaires are extremely versatile tools and can be implemented to gather information from a large and/or statistically significant population, or simply as a tool for starting and guiding individual conversations. â¢ For the Buford Highway Safety Pedestrian Project, GDOT wanted to survey local residents and business owners about pedestrian safety issues along the highway. To reach Hispanic residents, GDOT went to a shopping mall and distributed surveys on a Sunday between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm using bilingual interpreters and offering low-cost incentives, such as balloons, for participation. The shopping area was very popular with immigrant communities and proved to be a low-cost, time-efficient approach for reaching stakeholders to solicit their input on solutions for nearby Buford Highwayâs pedestrian safety issues. Through partnering with local agencies and businesses, GDOT was able to conduct its survey in the most efficient way possible and returned quality information that improved the overall project design. â¢ For the Washington State DOT, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, structured interview questions were targeted to several social service providers so that the project team could better understand the mission of the organization, its clients, and the characteristics of its operations. Social service representatives, generally the executive director or the program manager, were asked to consider the potential issues and impacts that the project might have on their services and their clientele. Social service providers included day care centers, homeless shelters, food kitchens, drug treatment centers, single-room occupancy housing complexes, and the like.
3-36 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking â¢ Coastal Carolina University developed a study with its students to investigate the working conditions of Latin American immigrants in Horry County, South Carolina, including those who may be undocumented workers. Researchers hoped to reach 1,000 participants to gather feedback from a broad and diverse representation of Latin American immigrants, but they doubted that standard methods for attracting survey participants (e.g., door-to-door recruit- ment, direct mailings, specific questions regarding the legal status of participants, etc.) would work because of fears among immigrants over giving out personal information of any kind. Instead, the researchers opted for a more deliberate and personal approach to get better results and higher levels of participation, albeit at some risk that the sampled population would differ from the overall Latin American immigrant population. The co-principal investigators for the study were both Spanish language speakers. They used initial visits to activity centers within the Hispanic community to discuss the studentsâ desire to conduct interviews using a survey instrument. The researchers gained a degree of acceptance for their survey once they had laid the groundwork as to why the surveys were being conducted, how privacy would be maintained, and what the potential benefit would be to the community for participating in the survey. The student researchers were then deployed to soccer fields, Mexican restaurants, and Hispanic grocery stores to conduct the surveys. The local Catholic churches lent their support and their facilities for making contact with the Hispanic community; this validated the importance and credibility of the survey to the target community. Try âMeeting-in-a-Box.â A Meeting-in-a-Box gives stakeholder groups and individuals all the materials necessary to hold a successful self-guided meeting. Volunteers host meet- ings, inviting small groups of their friends, neighbors, coworkers, or family members into their homes, workplaces, or other convenient locations to discuss a specific topic. The meeting host is provided with an instruction sheet and discussion guide. Since participants are typically asked only for their opinions, it is not generally necessary to distribute a great deal of technical infor- mation about the topic at hand. Following the discussion guide, the group will generally discuss a topic for 30 to 40 minutes. People are then asked to individually complete response forms about the same topic. All forms are collected and the box is returned to the sponsoring organization for compilation. â¢ The City of Austin distributed âMeeting-in-a-Boxâ kits in English and Spanish during the development of its Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. In total, 1,242 people participated with these kits during the initial phaseâequal to upwards of 150 tables at a typical public input meeting (see Figure 3-32). Special targeted events were held at the Asian American Cultural Center and Mexican American Cultural Center. For the event held at the Asian American Cultural Center, the city had reached out to the head of the Asian American Cultural Center and, in turn, she agreed to host the event and invite her contacts in the Asian community. The turnout was a sign of respect for the head of the center. It did not hurt that she also offered dinner in accordance with traditional customs. The Meeting-in-a-Box tool itself was designed to be easy to use regardless of the cultural context. It proved successful in the general Austin population, in a fairly well-educated Asian community and, to a lesser extent, with its Spanish-only speaking community. A midpoint assessment of the demographic representation for their âImagine Austin Community Forum Series #1ââcomposed of a public meeting, completion of a survey, or participating in a Meeting-in-a-Box eventâaffirmed the effectiveness of the Meeting-in-a-Box approach for reaching Asian Americans. â¢ COMPASS, the MPO for Treasure Valley, used Meeting-in-a-Box as a method for gathering input from traditionally underserved communities while preparing the LRTP, Communi- ties in Motion. COMPASS sought hosts from among those individuals who maintain regular contact with the underrepresented populations. For example, a church in Boise conducted a meeting in conjunction with a dinner served to low-income and homeless populations.
Practical Approaches 3-37 Those attending dinner heard a presentation on the transportation plan. Afterwards, a group discussion was held and questionnaire forms were distributed so those in attendance could write-down any additional input on topics that they may have been uncomfortable raising during the group exchange â¢ Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) offers Meeting-in-a-Box as a toolkit to assist in organizing projects. This toolkit provides helpful tips on how to organize and conduct events and models that can be adapted to local communities. Use Computer-Assisted Technologies to Explore Preferences. Many members of traditionally underrepresented groups have never participated in public planning and outreach activities; therefore, they may be reluctant to participate due to their unfamiliarity with the decision-making process and its protocols. They may not be able to attend events or activities because they occur during their work hours, or would require that they hire baby- sitters to watch their children. The inaccessibility of geographic locations of public participa- tion events can also impede access to events. Computer-assisted methods may, in some cases, assist in overcoming some barriers to participation by offering new avenues for participation through online services. If structured appropriately, computer-assisted technologies can be 1) less daunting than public meetings because supplementary, background information can be easily provided; 2) participation can occur at more convenient times (assuming online, open-hours access); and 3) online access can also help to overcome physical and/or geographic barriers. These tools can be designed to solicit input from stakeholders in a variety of settings from one-on-one individual interactions to multiple respondents in the course of focus groups or neighborhood workshops. This can include data collection in a single location or at multiple Figure 3-32. âMeeting-in-a-Boxâ attracted participants unlikely to attend a public meeting. Individual feedback sheets allowed the agency to track participant comments anonymously but permitted spatial and several demographic metrics of participation by type of event (note that MIAB = Meeting-in-a-Box).
3-38 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking locations. The appropriate tool depends on the particular type of preferences being explored and the type of forum (individual, group, etc.). Computer-assisted methods can provide aggregate results quickly, present provocative graphics for visualization and maps, and support real-time interactivity. â¢ In 2009, Chicago Metro Area Planning (CMAP), the regionâs MPO, held 57 GO TO 2040 Invent the Future workshops as part of their LRTP across the seven-county region. Events were held in community centers, churches, public libraries, social service offices, among other locations. Cosponsors for events included churches, civic organizations, community colleges, environmental justice and ethnic heritage organizations (e.g., Hispanic), League of Women Voters, Mayorâs associations, city council members, state representatives, and environmental organizations. Participants were invited to use a scenario software tool and keypad polling to create their own detailed versions of 2040 and compare them with CMAPâs scenarios. Keypad polling devices let participants create a scenario based on six different inputs: development density, development location, road investments, transit investments, transportation policies, and environmental policies. Use Games to Educate and Explore Priorities. A game engages multiple parties in a single activity around a predetermined set of objectives and rules for play. Games played in the transportation decision-making process have been used as a way to educate and inform players about challenges in transportation planning, project development, and priority setting and alter- nately as a way to gather information from players. â¢ The City of Seattle developed a table-top game to explore the publicâs understanding of the land-use relationships and densities required to support retail services and other commercial activity adjacent to new light rail stations. City staff developed a workshop exercise using aerial photos and three dimensional building blocks to represent various building heights. Workshop participants were asked to position the building blocks in locations and configu- rations they believed suitable to achieve the needed densities. Participants were asked to site parks and other community facilities and to consider needed transportation improvements. Members of many of the ethnic communities were comfortable with higher densities in close proximity to the rail stations (see Figure 3-33). â¢ The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Federal Land Highways Program, and the Lummi Nation developed the Reservation Road Planner Game as a means to train and build understanding of the transportation planning process among tribal leaders and staff. In the game, players make difficult decisions and confront consequences. They learn about laws and regulations as well as trade-offs. After playing the game, tribal leaders have a better understanding of transportation planning, and when it comes time to adopt transportation plans, they know why it is important and what they should be looking for when they review the plan (see Figure 3-34). â¢ Kentuckyâs ten-county Barren River Area Development District (ADD) and 17-county Bluegrass ADD adapted the âStrings and Ribbonsâ game to help prioritize their unscheduled transportation needs projects. During the game, residents explained their choices to each other and created rankings with clear information about the cost of transportation investments and the financial constraints of the decisionmakers. By making members of the public work together to seek consensus, the game empowers and challenges participants and eliminates the conflict between the public and the MPO. At the end of the game the ADDs had gained crucial information: an understanding of the publicâs perceived needs and project-specific recommendations that were listed and mapped. Members of the public, in turn, had gained a better understanding of why and how the LRTP is developed and the difficult choices that must be made when prioritizing project investments. The process also gave the public an opportunity to promote the projects they felt were most worthy.
practical approaches 3-39 Build Relationships Efforts to involve the public are often criticized as being âtoo little, too late.â Citizens want to work with responsive public agencies that involve them in a meaningful, collaborative process from the outset, not just when they are upset and feeling left out halfway through a project. Building relationships with leaders from traditionally underserved communities will help agencies involve traditionally underserved populations more effectively and from the outset of the decision-making process. Tools and techniques for building and maintaining relationships with those who represent traditionally underserved populations can be used during various stages of decisionmaking. They may include mechanisms for initially âbreaking the iceâ and beginning a civil discussion or a continuing dialogue, defining and establishing formal relationships, as well as other methods for garnering trust and strengthening contacts. Figures 3-33 and 3-34. The City of Seattle asked workshop participants to locate sites suitable for higher density near transit (top). The Reservation Road Planner Game is an inviting tool for training tribal leadership and staff about the transportation planning process (bottom).
3-40 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Form Advisory Boards, Committees, Taskforces, and Working Groups. A group of volunteers that meets regularly on a long-term basis to provide advice and/or support advisory committees can be formed around specific geographic regions, a particular projectâs stakeholders, a special interest, or a population group. They can include diverse stakeholders such as individ- ual citizens, community-based organizations, elected officials, business owners, and others, including representatives from minority or low-income traditionally underserved communities (see Figure 3-35). â¢ The MnDOT Advocacy Council for Tribal Transportation (ACTT) convenes quarterly to discuss policies and work on issues that involve roadways on or near Indian reservations. Membership includes representatives from 11 Minnesota tribes, MnDOT, FHWA, BIA, Michigan Tribal Technical Assistance Program, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and Minnesota counties and cities. To encourage participation, the ACTT rotates the location of meetings between tribal areas and other venues around the state. The quarterly events cover a broad range of topics as does their annual tribal transportation conference. These events provide a forum to share information and learn about federal, state, and tribal transportation policies, improve data- sharing, discuss issues requiring cooperation (e.g., development of cooperative agreements such as roadside vegetation management), disseminate information for training purposes (e.g., NEPA), strengthen working relationships, and gain a greater appreciation for cultural and tribal differences. â¢ The Tahoe MPO in Nevada created the Social Service Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC) to serve as an advisory body regarding the transit needs of transit-dependent and transit-disadvantaged persons, including the elderly, handicapped, and persons of limited means. The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District in California created an Accessibility Advisory Committee to review, to comment, and to advise the board of directors and district staff regarding the implementation of District planning, programs, and services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. Figure 3-35. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TnDOT) brought its âCommunity Resource Teamâ together for a two-day team building exercise early in the SR126 project. Team members either did not know or did not trust each other because of unresolved issues with a prior study. Training was given about the CSS process.
practical approaches 3-41 â¢ WSDOT convened working groups along the SR99 corridor for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project during the preparation of its supplemental environmental impact state- ment (EIS), to inform stakeholders of project progress, provide geographic specific infor- mation, and seek input from working group members. Representatives from neighborhoods, freight, economic interests, and advocacy-based organizations were included in these working groups. To ensure broad-based representation, the working groups included transit users and pedestrian groups; low-income housing; and neighborhoods with higher concentrations of LEP, minority, and low-income populations. Foster Understanding of Communities through Relationships with Community Organizations and Other Local Experts. Leveraging relationships with community orga- nizations entails fosteringâformally or informallyâa working arrangement or alliance with social services organizations, faith-based institutions, community-based organizations, or other groups at the local level that regularly interact with or include members from traditionally underserved populations. These organizations can identify important individuals to contact, become an intermediary with other organizations, and act as a cosponsor on projects. In addition, these organizations can help distribute project information through their own membership, facilitating input and feedback from members of the organization. Leveraging relationships with other local experts involves establishing a partnership or strengthening the social bonds with people who know the community and customs of the people with whom the practitioner would like to interact. Most likely they would be members of that community. This approach is effective in involving traditionally underserved populations because it works through known individuals who have established social networks and who possess insights on how, where, and when to contact underserved populations to get them involved. In some cases, it may be very difficult to connect with underserved populations because of their work status or their difficult individual circumstances; in such cases, local experts may speak with a certain sensitivity to these conditions or advocate on behalf of underserved populations for specific policies or projects as these experts tend to be highly informed about the community. Working with the ârightâ organizations and individuals can ensure access to the community leaders and encourage participation in planning and other transportation-related processes. Building partnerships with community organizations and other local experts can foster trust and be a valuable means for establishing long lasting two-way communications to begin to address critical issues interfering with effective public involvement. â¢ For the FDOT U.S. 301 Project in Hillsborough and Sarasota County, staff conducting a field visit to prepare environmental studies unexpectedly discovered an enclave of homeless âurban campersââa community of more than 100 tentsâthat would be adversely affected by a proposed roadway alignment. Seeking to learn more the persons living in the impromptu settlement, FDOT reached out to several health and social services organizations including the Salvation Army, Red Cross, churches, soup kitchens, medical clinics, emergency rooms, and housing agencies. With a better understanding of their socioeconomic and health circumstances, FDOT then developed its strategy for a communications plan, resolving to work with these local health and social service organizations to distribute critical project- and construction- related notices to better prepare the transient population for relocation. â¢ The Caltrans Third River Bridge Crossing Replacement Project held a community information meeting in Marysville, a small town about 30 miles north of Sacramento, but failed to attract attendance from the local Hmong community despite the distribution of flyers announcing the date, time, and place of the meeting. The Caltrans project manager, looking for reasons for the poor turnout, came to appreciate how the Hmong communityâs history as refugees from Laos could have suppressed their interest in attendance. Their harsh treatment and exile
3-42 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking at the hands of their former government may have made them more hesitant to attend government sponsored meetings. To overcome this, the project manager recruited school teachers and clergy members whom the Hmong trusted to encourage their attendance. Members of the Hmong community participated in the second community information meeting. Having taken the time to learn more about the community, Caltrans came to the realization that middle-aged and older Hmong spoke very little English and follow-up invitations were translated into Hmong to encourage attendance. Recruit and Mobilize Community Ambassadors, âBeacons,â or âTrusted Advocates.â Community ambassadors, âbeacons,â or âtrusted advocatesâ are individual citizens or leaders who are capable of bridging the communication gap between agency practitioners and members of the public. They are individuals who are perceived by other members of the community as trustworthy, approachable and effective. These ambassadors may be a member of a specific ethnic, racial, and/or cultural group with particular expertise in the culture, language, history, and values of the local community. They know who to contact and how to approach them, which makes it easier to get the word out about what is going on and how and why to participate. A word-of-mouth approach is effective with most populations, but is especially effective with traditionally underserved populations because the ambassador or beacon is someone they know and trust to give them good advice. The relationships are already established and people rely on the network to give them good information. â¢ The City of Seattle established the Planning Outreach Liaison (POL) program to formalize the use of community members in conducting outreach efforts for its neighborhood plan updates. The city recognized the growing importance of foreign-born populations in shaping city life and neighborhood character and determined that it was critical to secure their engagement in the plan update process to better understand their hopes and aspirations. The city sought candidates to reach non-native English speaking ethnic groups residing within the three neighborhoods: Somali, Eritrean, Oromiffa, Amharic, Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Latino. Trusted advocates were also recruited to connect to Blacks, Native Americans, persons with disabilities, seniors, and youth as prior outreach efforts to these groups had not been par- ticularly successful. Trusted advocates were selected by a city interview panel interested in finding bilingual persons who were well connected to their respective communities with the interpersonal skills to be an effective communicator and group facilitator (see Figure 3-36). Figure 3-36. Trusted Advocates were given a stipend under the terms of their work for the City of Seattle.
practical approaches 3-43 â¢ The San Antonio-Bexar County MPO mobilized community beacons for the East Corridor Multi-Modal Alternatives Plan, working in a neighborhood where over several decades resi- dents and employers had borne the consequences of inadequate investment in essential infra- structure and poor access to vital services such as public safety, health care, education and shopping facilities, among other issues. The beacon was able to open doors for transportation planners to meet and get to know community leaders. She helped both the community lead- ers and the transportation planners feel more comfortable with each other and facilitated effective communication for both groups. Once community members became more familiar with the transportation planning process through this approach, they were better able to participate effectively. Transportation planners, in turn, developed a better understanding of the transportation priorities for residents, which they were not fully aware of prior to the public meetings. Provide Technical Training to Citizen Groups. Training is often used to leverage advocacy, community-based, nonprofit, education, and other groups to assist in data collection, analysis, and other public involvement and outreach activities. Although they may be unfamiliar with transportation decision-making processes or concepts, community-based and nonprofit groups have existing contacts and relationships with the target disadvantaged populations. Through better access to these populations, the transportation agency can improve its understanding of their needs and concerns. Where there is sensitivity or fear about working with outsiders (e.g., due to lack of trust, immigrant status, past history, etc.), data collection, information dissemination, and other outreach activities may be more effective if provided by trusted individuals or organizations. â¢ Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Training and an Audit exercise were undertaken on behalf of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) near the Oakland Coliseum station. CPTED is concerned with designing the local environment to minimize opportunities for crime. The consultant team with professional training in urban design, planning, and community policing was retained to prepare a CPTED study focused on the safety of BART patrons walking to and from the station and from the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. Staff from BART, the Oakland Coliseum, and the public housing authority were brought together along with nearby business association members and local residents to conduct a CPTED field audit. Three field teams were assembled for the field audit, mixing the professional and community stakeholders to build relationships for possible future collaborations. Each team was led by a facilitator and assigned a geographic area to cover for the CPTED physical audit. The facilitators took photographs during the field visits and were responsible for facilitating the final team discussion on issues and potential resolutions (see Figures 3-37 and 3-38). Prior to the field exercise, two presentations were given to prepare participants: one was on the concept and principles of CPTED and the other on conducting a field assessment. Each field team brought back its observations to the consultant team. Issues of concern and deficiencies were then organized thematically by the consulting team in terms of access, visibility, land use, surveillance, and territoriality. Possible strategies and recommenda- tions in the area of policy (e.g., policing, code enforcement), operations and maintenance, and physical capital improvements (e.g., design improvements, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, signage, etc.) were presented at subsequent workshops to address each of these key themes. Community priorities for strategies and recommendations were then expressed by event participants who were given sets of stickers (red, blue, green dots)âeach reflecting a different weight of importanceâto prioritize initiatives of greater or lesser priority for various locations. â¢ The American Cancer Society (ACS) has an extensive network of existing staff and volunteers who serve as patient navigators throughout the country. The navigators help patients to
3-44 Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking understand the available resources in their community. Some programs are funded by grants; others are supported by local healthcare providers. While many work solely with individuals, this service guides users through the system. âNavigatorsâ may be the first link in providing technical assistance to citizen groups. By developing citizen experts on the proposed process or plan, much of the day-to-day outreach to the target populations can be managed at this level. As the navigators become more knowledgeable or as the plan or project evolves, the experts can be trained to carry out other activities. Many transit agencies and advocacy groups (e.g., Easter Seals/Project Action) provide travel training programs to teach potential users how to access public and human service transportation resources. Figures 3-37 and 3-38. CPTED field teams took pictures of issues of concern while touring their assigned areas (top). Issues for improvement were identified by each field team and the subject matter consultants which became the focus of remedial strategies and recommendations (bottom).
practical approaches 3-45 Mitigate Impacts/Deliver Benefits Mitigation, in the context of developing projects compliant with NEPA and its CEQ regulations and guidance, broadly encompasses: avoiding an impact by not taking a certain action or parts of an action; minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its imple- mentation; rectifying impacts by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action; or compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments. This broad definition of mitigation is a central tenet at the heart of achieving environmental justice. It is reaffirmed in the three âfundamental principles of environmental justiceâ commu- nicated in FHWAâs technical assistance guidance (FHWA, An Overview of Transportation and Environmental Justice, 2000) presented in italics below: To avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority and low-income populations. Effective mitigation starts early in the NEPA process, not at its end; it is an integral part of the alternatives development and the analysis process. Throughout this report, examples are pro- vided of the importance of engaging all affected populationsâearly and often. When mitigation strategies are explored early in the NEPA processâwhile alternatives are still being developed and analyzedâagencies and practitioners can better align their decision-making processes with input from those affected by the possible effects and/or benefits of each project alternative. This recognition is at the heart of the second of three fundamental principles of environmental justice: To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process. Paralleling this broad definition of mitigation and ensuring full and fair participation by all affected communities, is the concept of nondiscrimination as articulated in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended) which states that: âno person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.â The third fundamental principle of environmental justice makes explicit the importance of close evaluation of benefits and whether they are fairly delivered by transportation decision-making processes: To prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations. Develop Mitigation Strategies. Earlier public involvement can lead to a better under- standing of the concerns, priorities, and issues of the affected public before the transportation agency has committed to a specific project alternative or design. Better integration of mitigation strategies throughout the project development stage can ensure that projects and alternatives that ultimately get selected will be welcomed, potentially resulting in less opposition, litigation and delays. However, selected project alternatives can still have significant adverse effects upon communities. When the adverse effects of a project are appreciably more severe or greater in magnitude for low-income or minority populations than for non-minority or non-low-income populations, there is a strong likelihood that the project will raise concerns about environmental justice impacts. When there is no practicable alternative, mitigating the significant impacts of projects expected to have a disproportionately high and adverse effect upon minority or low-income
3-46 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking populations is an important means for addressing threats to the livability of communities that may be imposed by transportation projects. â¢ The West State Street Corridor Study prepared by the Illinois DOT (IDOT) in cooperation with FHWA and the City of Rockford seeks to revitalize an economically depressed corridor, largely populated by very low-income and minority populations. Community members raised concerns in meetings conducted for the environmental assessment about the loss to community cohesion resulting from displacement of four churches and a funeral home (see Figure 3-39). With few realistic sites to relocate within the corridor, the study team realized that the expected compensation, in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (Uniform Act), would be insufficient to support new construction of these community-serving institutions. The displaced institutions and business did not have the financial resources to make up the gap between the âfair market valueâ of their acquired properties and the higher costs of new construction or extensive reconstruction of existing buildings. The project sponsors were concerned that environmental justice issues were triggered by the project because the loss of these institutions within the corridor would be borne disproportionately by the areaâs low-income and minority community residents. However, Rockford officials had successfully used deferred mortgages along the same cor- ridor for HUD-funded owner-occupied rehab housing; they felt that the mortgage concept could be adapted to ease the burden for displaced institutions interested in relocating within the corridor. The West State Street Environmental Justice Mitigation Plan outlines the terms of a deferred mortgage program; the program would give each of the property owners $150,000 in state transportation dollars to build a new property or purchase an existing one in the corridor. For each year of continuing operations over a 15-year period, $10,000 would be forgiven from the total loan. But, if the property was sold or the operations discontinued at any point, the remaining balance would become due. IDOT and Rockford are enthusiastic about how deferred mortgages may ameliorate some of the cost burden for community-based institutions choosing to relocate within the corridor. â¢ WSDOT has periodically prepared a Project Mitigation Cost Case Studies report that closely examines environmental mitigation: the regulatory factors driving mitigation, the types of Figure 3-39. The First Hispanic Church of God was one of four churches and a funeral home included in the West State Street Environmental Justice Mitigation Plan to mitigate adverse impacts to the community.
practical approaches 3-47 mitigation, their costs, and the percentage of the overall project costs for mitigation, among other issues. This includes tracking the costs for âCSSâ itemsâprojects that tend to exhibit design flexibility to achieve greater compatibility with the existing built and natural environ- ment and often utilize transportation enhancement elements to ensure this compatibility. CSS designs are fostered through collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches, involving stakeholders and the public. Features of such projects include community gateways, community connectivity, special landscaping, bikeway and pedestrian underways, guardrails and railings, and concrete stamping, among other elements. Provide a Citizen-Driven Community Enhancement Fund. A citizen-driven enhancement fund sets aside a portion of a transportation project infrastructure budget for small-scale side projects that the community has a significant voice in choosing. Transportation agency staff help create a citizens advisory board to represent the targeted communities. That board is then charged with receiving applications for use of the funds, weighing the benefits and applicability of those projects, and then sending their recommendations for funding to decisionmakers at the transportation agency. By bringing representatives of the communities onto the advisory board, transportation agencies are able to increase community engagement on a project. The process gives community members real power over a project, fostering general community interest, which can be difficult to achieve if the project does not directly or adversely impact the community. â¢ The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), I-5 Delta Park: Victory Boulevard to Lombard Section (I-5 Delta Park). For a broad, bi-state effort to ease congestion on Interstate 5, ODOT instituted a citizen-directed, community enhancement fund approach along the corridor in the Delta Park community in Portland. Historically, the siting and construction of I-5 cleaved through minority neighborhoods and sowed enduring resentment in the Delta Park area. The subsequent I-5 Delta Park Project explored various alternatives to address a chokepoint between Portland and Vancouver, involving road widening, ramp configuration changes, local street network improvements, and bridge modifications. The NEPA environmental assessment prepared by ODOT found that the project would not result in disproportionately high and adverse impacts on the low-income and minority populations. Therefore, no mitigation and conservation measures were identified. But, the blighting legacy of I-5 through North Portland neighborhoods was raised during outreach meetings including environmental justice working groups formed for the study. The ODOT project manager decided to go âabove and beyond mitigationâ to give residents a voice on the selection of a package of smaller projects for the benefit of the community. A community enhancement fund was established that set aside one percent, or $1 million, of the project budget from state funding. Communities were invited to apply for these funds, provided that they could demonstrate that their project 1) had a relationship to the I-5 Delta Park project and its potential impacts; and 2) could qualify for state or federal trans- portation dollars. The projects required endorsements from neighborhood organizations. A community enhancement advisory board was established, consisting of representatives from several neighborhood associations, the regional Watershed Council, the Environmental Justice Working Group, the housing authority, and local elected officials. Running concurrently with significant public outreach, the board met for a yearâs time and reviewed 13 applications, totaling about $3 million. The board recommended several projects, subsequently approved by ODOT, including neighborhood tree planting along the corridor ($65K); bicycle lanes along the adjacent Rosa Parks Boulevard ($90K); planning studies for improving the safety of a pedestrian overpass ($50K); widening, lighting improvements, and screens on another pedestrian overpass ($200K); extension of a pedestrian and bicycle trail ($460K); traffic calming on an adjacent street in the Kenton neighborhood ($75K); and crosswalk improve- ments ($60K).
3-48 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Recognize Community Benefits Agreements. A community benefits agreement (CBA) is a project-specific, legally binding contract between a project sponsor (i.e., developer or trans- portation agency) and a group or coalition of community representatives reflecting a range of stakeholder interests. In the agreement, the project sponsor documents how the proposed project will contribute to the community, usually through community employment, development, or environmental provisions. In return, residents and coalition representatives agree to support the proposed project, stopping costly delays before they start. CBAs are designed to be part of a âwin-winâ strategy that encourages early and meaningful communication between the project sponsor and the affected community. Over the past decade, CBAs have brought engineers, planners, and community members together to discuss project objectives and to convey issues of concern that could lead to concerted opposition. CBA requirements are usually minor when compared with the overall project budget, but ensure that projects bring jobs into the community, enhance livability, or address environmental health concerns expressed by the community representatives. CBAs tend to be established for local hiring and training, noise and air quality mitigation, or neighborhood beau- tification elements such as trees and lighting. Such agreements can give the community greater influence over the projects and establish a greater stake in seeing the project successfully implemented. â¢ In 1998, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority established a CBA with the Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition to hire local residents for 3,500 of the estimated 10,500 jobs created by the $2.4 billion project to strengthen and streamline transportation links between the Port of Long Beach and the City of Los Angeles. The agreement also created funding for construction job training to benefit 1,281 local residents and for community-based organizations to recruit and train local residents for jobs, apprenticeships, or pre-apprenticeships. Create Transportation Planning Grant Programs to Support Environmental Justice and Community-Based Planning. Funding programs typically established by DOTs or MPOS can be targeted to local governments or nonprofit organizations capable of demonstrating that their transportation planning project will meet statewide, regional, or local goals. Such goals may include smart growth or strategic land use planning; congestion relief; efficient movement of people, goods, and services; promotion of urban design and projects to ensure safe and healthy communities; pedestrian, bicycle, and transit mobility and access; public and stakeholder partici- pation; measures to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; conservation of energy and natural resources; and protection of sensitive habitat and farmland. The approach recognizes the need for better coordination of regional transportation planning with local land use planning and decisionmaking. Plans and projects funded by the programs can foster public involvement and/or collaborative planning processes along with project planning studies that support livability and sustainable solutions for diverse and underserved communities. Program funding criteria can be developed to prioritize plans and projects that satisfy program purposes and meet grant eligibility provisions intended to benefit traditionally underserved populations and improve the quality of life of their communities. â¢ Environmental Justice: Context Sensitive and Community-Based Transportation Planning Grants (CBTP) are categories of the Caltrans Planning Grant Programs. Caltrans used the program to fund many community-based projects, including the Traffic Calming and Safety Enhancements for the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation formed a partner- ship with the local government commission, a nonprofit organization dedicated to technical assistance around creating healthy and walkable communities, to address traffic, safety, and accessibility issues in addition to redevelopment opportunities. The outreach process included
practical approaches 3-49 meetings, design fairs, and walking tours of the study area to introduce residents to the proposed project and solicit ideas, concerns, and suggestions. The study area, which includes a half-mile section of Highway 96 that bisects Hoopa Valley Tribal lands, had been plagued by numerous accidents in the past due to inadequate sidewalks, turning lanes, and lighting. In previous town meetings, safety concerns had been voiced. Final recommendations for the project included crosswalk improvements, traffic calming, a gateway entrance to the town, a village and cultural center, and a village grid. Caltrans received an award for the success of the project and it has been recognized nationally as a model for improving relations between state DOTs and tribal communities (see Figures 3-40 and 3-41). â¢ DVRPC, the MPO for the nine-county Philadelphia region, established its Transportation and Community Development Initiative (TCDI) program to target funding to the regionâs core cities, developed communities, and economically disadvantaged areas. Grant awards are made directly to municipalities, county governments, and nonprofit organizations within the City of Philadelphia. Project sponsors may apply for planning dollars for a variety of eligible Figures 3-40 and 3-41. Tribal leaders, residents, and businesses in the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation were invited to a walking tour (top) and a design fair (bottom)âelements of a collaborative planning process to improve safety for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
3-50 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking activities to improve the climate for redevelopment and improve the overall quality of life for residents. The TCDI program has been highly popular with local governments in the region. The communities and census tracts eligible for TCDI grants are consistent with the criteria used in the regional transportation plan, as well as DVRPCâs policy to proactively support the regionâs disadvantaged communities and populations, drawing upon the agencyâs social profile and mapping prepared as part of its annual environmental justice research program. Implement Safe Routes to Schools Programs. Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) programs and projects encourage children to walk and ride bicycles to schools. Communities are using federal, state, and local SRTS funding to construct infrastructure projects including sidewalks, safer crossings, pathways, bicycle lanes, and traffic calming measures. Funding is also used for education, encouragement, and enforcement programs including promotional events, bicycle and pedestrian safety and security, and crosswalk or speed enforcement stings. SRTS funds are being used to increase community awareness, change attitudes, and foster collaboration and partnerships among organizations and agencies to educate and promote walking and bicycling by school-aged children. Children from low-income families are twice as likely to walk to school as children from higher income families and they also have a higher risk of being injured or killed as pedestrians, according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership in their recent publication, Implementing Safe Routes to School in Low-Income Schools and Communities: A Resource Guide for Volunteers and Professionals (see Figure 3-42). SRTS programs, at their inception, tended to favor moderate-to higher-income communities that had the resources to prepare the grants and undertake the pre-planning activities leading to a successful grant application. Seeking to redress this disparity, this resource guide describes effective strategies for ensuring that resources reach disadvantaged communities, illustrating the types of planning considerations and projects that have yielded beneficial outcomes. â¢ Coconino County Health Department, Flagstaff (AZ) initiated several crime prevention strategies through community policing and environmental design to alter the perception of the parents, students and the community about the safety of walking and bicycling to the Thomas Elementary School. Placement of a police substation within a neighborhood, zero tolerance for loitering and public drunkenness, voluntary prohibitions of selling 40-ounce bottles of liquor by local merchants, cleaning away litter and broken glass, and recruiting parents for âWalking School Busesâ were several elements of a coordinated strategy to reclaim public spaces, including a nearby park that had become both a sign of disorder and a danger for students walking to school. â¢ Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS), a community policing initiative, established âSafe Havensâ as an element of its Safe Passages program. Safe Havens are places where children will find a friendly shelter and can turn to a trustworthy adult for assistance in the event that they feel threatened and need refuge. Safe Havens are clearly marked by signs and include all municipal facilities as well as participating convenience stores, barber shops, retailers, libraries and other local businesses. It is one of several strategies along with Walking Buses and Parent Patrols under the umbrella of the cityâs Safe Passage program. â¢ The New Jersey Department of Transportationâs SRTS Urban Demonstration Program focused on disadvantaged schools in Camden, Newark, and Trentonâcities that exhibited dis- proportionately high rates of pedestrian crashes, poverty, and crime. The Urban Demonstration Program was designed, in part, to assist urban schools previously unsuccessful in getting SRTS funding but that had shown an interest in the SRTS program. Needs and opportunities to improve conditions were identified through evening community workshops held at each school and through a student classroom assignment. On the day of the evening workshop, the project team observed students at arrival and dismissal times and engaged with students during the Figure 3-42. SRTS National Partnership prepared a resource guide to encourage more projects in low- income communities.
practical approaches 3-51 school day in both a classroom session and a neighborhood walkabout. For the classroom exercise, students were asked to participate in a visual preference survey to solicit their perceptions on what they would like to see done to improve their neighborhood if they were the mayor. During their walking audit, students were asked to photograph and record positive and negative conditions in their walking environment and suggest improvements (see Figure 3-43). Their perceptions offered valuable information for framing discussions during the evening community workshop attended by parents, caregivers, school administrators, teachers, police, and community leaders. Develop Solutions for High Risk Pedestrian Crossings. Transportation planning studies can be designed to identify and address persistent safety issues for pedestrians in communities affected by high volumes of auto and truck vehicular traffic. High risk areas for pedestriansâ âhot-spotsââcan be identified and subsequent projects can implement solutions to improve the safety and livability for underserved communities. Projects can be designed to encourage public involvement and collaborative processes to find feasible solutions that can be widely accepted by local residents and businesses. Community-based organizations can be leveraged to bring local knowledge and additional capacity to bear on problem identification and preferred solutions. â¢ La Casa de Don Pedro, a community-based organization in Newark, New Jersey, has received funding for their Caminos Seguros Program from the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminis- tration through the New Jersey Department of Transportation to provide education, advocacy, and other activities geared to reduce the incidence of traffic-related injuries and fatalities. The program has included the formation of an advisory team comprised of community-based advocates, university researchers, transportation agencies, local elected representatives, and municipal staff in public works and police departments. Advisory team meetings review the program status, conduct strategic planning, and provide a forum for interaction and partner- ship with other stakeholders such as county engineers who are undertaking their own corridor planning initiatives. The outreach element of the program has included developing a database of interested parties, distributing traffic safety information to local schools, and holding public Figure 3-43. Students took photographs and recorded observations about the walking environment around their schools in the City of Camden. These perceptions were shared with adult attendees at the community workshops held later in the evening.
3-52 Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking safety events, including celebrations of successfully implemented traffic safety improvements. Upcoming outreach is expected to incorporate door-knocking and intercept discussions with persons in the vicinity of âhot spots,â developing an informational pamphlet about the program, distributing an information form to expand their mailing list and screen for com- mitted local individuals to join in grassroots organizing, and designing and implementing focus groups (see Figure 3-44). â¢ The Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC), a regional transportation advocacy group, joined with La Casa de Don Pedro to secure safety improvements such as improved signage and new striping of crosswalks in Newarkâs Lower Broadway neighborhood in the vicinity of a local school and community park. These efforts included holding a walking tour as a means for drawing attention to the critical safety issues. Conduct a Health Impact Assessment. The health impact assessment (HIA) is a combi- nation of procedures or methods by which a policy, program, or project may be evaluated as to the effects it may have on public health and offers strategies for mitigating those effects. Used in a broad variety of fieldsâfrom transportation planning to housing development, company sick-leave policies, school discipline practices, and federal farm legislationâits broader purpose is to bring a public health perspective and make health consequences part of policy, program, plan, and design decisionmaking. Since their creation in the late 1990s, HIAs have been prepared for many purposes including for environmental investigations of infrastructure and facility investments and operations. For a highway project, this could mean that in the planning and project development stages, HIA professionals will take the projected impacts on air quality, for example, and from those projections model the effects on rates of asthma and cardiovascular disease. HIAs conducted Figure 3-44. La Casa de Don Pedro conducted a âhot spotâ accident analysis of corridors with high concentrations of lower income and minority households to draw greater attention to areas in need of transportation improvements.
practical approaches 3-53 in the policy and planning stages may explore many public health topics that have physical, environmental, and social and equity dimensions, including crime and public safety, the avail- ability of multi-modal transportation or biking and walking to school options, accessibility to jobs or other services, access to healthy foods, and opportunities for active recreation, among other issues. HIA professionals say that when transportation agencies and practitioners encounter the prospect of conducting an HIA on their project, they are often initially skeptical or fearful, thinking that HIA will delay or halt the project for arbitrary reasons. HIA professionals counter that their intentions are: â¢ To bring greater rigor to the environmental review process to ensure that its findings benefit from a public health perspective; â¢ To establish a working and trusting relationship with the community early on in the project, both to inform the community and to mitigate the threat of later community opposition; â¢ To ensure that projects that get advanced to project development stages do not result in unreasonable health impacts; and â¢ To stimulate closer inspection of long-standing threats to public health from the cumulative effects of prior decisions. The HIA process includes a commitment to meaningful public involvement. A solid HIA begins its community involvement early, often by creating an HIA steering committee composed of community members, HIA professionals, transportation practitioners, and other stakeholders. HIA professionals or the steering committee will present information and findings to the public at each stage of the HIAâfrom deciding the factors for study to unveiling the recommendations. Also, HIA can bring community members into the process, in part, by providing them with research tasks like truck counting or air quality monitoring. Following this process, organized opposition or lawsuits are more likely to be avoided that will consume the sponsoring agencyâs time and credibility. â¢ ARCâs Plan 2040 provides an opportunity for metropolitan Atlanta stakeholders to com- prehensively consider the transportation, land use, resource protection and infrastructure investment strategies that will best prepare the region to manage the growth and change to sustainably accommodate an additional three million persons, becoming a region of eight million people. The Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) at the Georgia Institute of Technologyâs College of Architecture is leading the first ever HIA on a major metropolitan transportation and comprehensive growth plan. The HIA is funded by the Health Impact Project, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. CQGRD seeks to answer questions about how to build metro Atlanta to maximize the health of its people and to mitigate the potential health damages of growth. The HIA will examine the planâs land-use patterns and transportation infrastructure investment to predict how it will affect air-quality- and mobility-related public health. The HIA will examine the planâs potential impact on a range of health issues, such as injury and asthma rates, and the risks of obesity and diabetes. In recent years, the CQGRD has prepared highly noteworthy HIA studies in the Atlanta metro region about the central importance of public health, including the Atlanta BeltLine Health Impact Assessment and the City of Decatur Community Transportation Plan and Rapid HIA. The BeltLine HIA closely examined accessâto healthy foods, transit, health facilities, and parks and trails, among other issues, and their potential association with public health outcomes. As illustrated in Figure 3-45, the study explored key metrics of physical activity, safety, social capital, and the environment and their linkages to potential health outcomes in the course of the study. The BeltLine study received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided technical assistance to ensure rigor and quality.
3-54 Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking An HIA advisory committee was also formed to bring experts in public health, civil engineering, transportation, and urban design to the project. â¢ Public HealthâSeattle & King County and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. In the 1960s in Washington State, a 13-mile highway was built in the Seattle area, including a 7,500-foot floating bridge spanning Lake Washington. By the late 2000s, the bridge was due for reconstruction. State legislation that authorized reconstruction directed the regional air quality and public health agencies to conduct an HIA of the three plans under consideration for the project. The HIA examined public health effects ranging from greenhouse gas emissions and noise to effects the project would have on emergency medical services. Recommendations from the study were grouped into four key categories, listed below: â Construction period - control construction-related pollution and noise; enhance traffic management. â Transit, bicycling, and walking - increase and improve transit service; install connected bicycling and pedestrian facilities with appropriate signage and advertising; and establish safety measures throughout the corridor. â Landscaped lids and green spaces - enclose highway approaches with pedestrian parks as was mandated in the legislation; landscape throughout the corridor; improve adjacent arboretum and other nearby green spaces; and preserve waterfront access. â Design features for healthy communities - reduce noise throughout the corridor; add to visual character with art and design; and use innovative stormwater management techniques. Figure 3-45. The Atlanta BeltLine project will convert a 22-mile loop of freight rail to parks and trails. It will catalyze transit and residential and commercial development. A logic model framework illustrates the Beltlineâs potential direct and indirect effects in five dimensions such as access and physical activityâ each having a bearing on potential health outcomes.
practical approaches 3-55 Monitor Health and Environmental Impacts. Heavy trucks, buses, and automobiles travel along high-volume freeways and through underpass routes, exposing nearby neighborhoods to air pollutants that include ultrafine particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, black carbon, and carbon monoxide. Often found at elevated levels near highways, these pollutants have been found to have adverse health effects. Health studies show elevated risk for development of asthma and reduced lung function in children who live near major highways. Studies of particulate matter have shown associations with cardiac and pulmonary mortality that appear to indicate increasing risk as smaller geographic areas are studied, suggesting localized sources that likely include major highways. Cumulative exposure at high levels can contribute to higher rates of asthmaâparticularly in childrenâand cardiovascular health problems for older, susceptible persons living in the project area. Many particulates emitted from automobile vehicle exhaust and highway construction are âultra-fineââso small that they have the potential to enter peoplesâ bloodstreams upon contact. These particulates are particularly dangerous within about 1,300 feet of the source. Traditionally underserved communities across the country are often located in residential areas nearer to highways. Concerned residents, community organizations, and public health professionals have devel- oped project teams to carry out initiatives to measure the cumulative environmental effects of transportation projects upon communities and their vulnerable or at-risk populations. They have sought to make measurements available to the public for discussion about public health impacts and risks, and to seek greater accountability and implementation of mitigation strategies. Rigorous, data-driven research can help practitioners and community advocates better educate the public on the potential health risks of construction and traffic operations and advocate for appropriate mitigation strategies. Agencies and their project managers will be better able to improve local environmental conditions when they can measure emissions and exposure levels, when they can assess their own progress toward stated goals, and when stakeholders can hold them accountable for making improvements. Perceptions of risk are heightened in the absence of frank communications between sponsoring agencies, mediating institutions (e.g., universities or public health agencies) and the public. Agencies that are prepared to commit themselves to exchange health- and science-related information in a process that allows for an open dialogue with trusted intermediaries are more likely to build a degree of trust and find common solutions to persistent health issues confronting some communities. â¢ People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER), a local grassroots environmental justice organization, teamed with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the University of California, Berkeley, to conduct collaborative, participatory research focused on the health effects of proximity to an intraurban highway near a low-income, Excelsior neighborhood in southeast San Francisco. PODER members surveyed community residents regarding pedestrian conditions, air quality, and noise in their neighborhood. Surveys were conducted in English, Spanish, and Chinese. The research also included air quality, traffic counts and pedestrian safety, environmental noise, community health investigations, and personal testimony of residents regarding public health and safety concerns. The work has supported other community actions the organization has taken to advocate for solutions to protect community public health focused on issues like traffic calming, truck routes, bike plans, among others (see Figure 3-46). â¢ Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health Study (CAFEH) is a five-year community-based participatory research project funded by the National Institute of Environ- mental Health Sciences (NIEHS) initiated by the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP) and led by Tufts University researchers to assess the cardiac effects of near-highway pollution on residents living between 50 and 400 meters from the I-93 highway in the greater Boston area. Their ongoing research project includes measurements of highway-generated air
3-56 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking pollution using a mobile laboratory, including ultrafine particulates (UFPs) measured in billionths of a meter in diameter, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. The study is exam- ining the relationship of these pollutants and cardiac health impacts as a function of distance from highways in three Boston-area communities. The study also explores community and cultural perceptions of the effects of air pollution on health among people living in neighbor- hoods adjacent to major highways. The study has hired and trained residents as field staff to recruit and conduct health-related surveys of residents. All of the community partner agencies serve on the study steering committee and have led the outreach efforts. Interviews are conducted in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Chinese, and Vietnamese in order to engage residents living near the highway across the study area. Drawing upon the research, the project will develop culturally appropriate, educational modules to raise awareness of risks, use the findings to influence local and state policy regarding land use near highways, and identify possible mitigation approaches. Overcome Institutional Barriers Overcoming institutional barriers is a task objective that seeks to tackle potential root causesâ through an array of enforcement, mentoring, training, and technical assistance strategiesâfor why some population groups are persistently underserved by transportation decision-making Figure 3-46. San Franciscoâs Public Health Department prepared a retroactive health impact assessment of traffic in Excelsiorâs Still/Lyell Freeway Channel. Highest-day cumulative exposure maps for PM2.5 particulates were modeled and mapped to show freeway traffic, informal diesel truck routes, diesel bus routes, as well as neighborhood traffic volumes. The analyses assess and communicate additional public health risks associated with neighborhood traffic volumes.
practical approaches 3-57 processes. Tools and techniques for overcoming barriers are founded on a recognition of the importance of conducting periodic assessments of agency policies, programs, and procedures. Such research may explore hidden or overt biases, or conflicting objectives that may exist within transportation organizationsâembedded in daily practices or widely expressed in the views held by executive or senior leadership or staff within the organizationâthat repeatedly result in disparate and unfavorable outcomes for traditionally underserved populations. Each stage of decisionmaking may have standard operating procedures and traditional ways of defining or meeting with the public that preclude opportunities for traditionally underserved to participate meaningfully in proceedings. This task objective seeks to reform standard practices to find ways for traditionally underserved populations to take on greater roles and responsibilities within the transportation agencyâs daily management and operations, in contract procurement, or in planning and project development processes. Train Community Members to Be Transportation Leaders. Low-income persons and people of color are often underrepresented on planning boards and commissions and, if appointed, they may find themselves isolated and without a robust social network to call upon to strengthen their capacity to influence policy. This is a long-standing problem within transportation, but some advocacy organizations are taking the initiative to tackle this form of inequity in rep- resentation by instituting leadership training programs for potentially well-qualified candidates. Graduates from such training are given mentorship and alumni networks to tap once they leave the program. With a thriving technical assistance network designed specifically to support them in their roles on commissions, they will have the capacity and community support to advance a regional agenda for economic, environmental, and social justice and are better prepared to serve as the next generation of elected officials who are representative of and responsive to the issues of concern to the regionâs low-income communities and communities of color. â¢ The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area region is an initiative of Urban Habitat and the Social Equity Caucus. Its âseats firstâ model relies on an analysis of key boards and commissions seats throughout the region, including city, county, and regional appointments. Boards and commissions that have been targeted have existing or potential influence over policies in areas with equity implications, including transportation, housing, development, jobs, and climate change. The prospective list of seats is distributed to advocacy organizations so that they may nominate participants from within their own organizations, campaigns, and networks. Nominees are interviewed by a selection committee, including representatives from the coalition of advocacy groups. Leadership training nominees participate in training sessions, meetings, mixers, brief online assignments, observations, and one-on-one meetings with mentors, training staff, and technical support staff. Trainings are regularly held and may include a variety of topics, including role-playing exercises to under- stand how to use Robertâs Rules of Order and how to work with the media. Establish Public Involvement Training Programs. A public involvement training pro- gram teaches transportation professionals about the importance of meaningful participation in transportation decision-making and describes the tools and techniques for achieving it. Public involvement training programs include modules on how to prepare and implement a PIP that will examine and promote strategies to engage all sectors of the public including low-income and minority populations or LEP persons. Part of this training will teach how to identify the various stakeholders and affected groups that need to be involved in order to have an effective PIP. The training should also include tools and techniques for involving traditionally underserved populations that are likely to be effective in overcoming barriers to participation. Critical to effective public involvement training is continuing evaluation of the PIPâs effectiveness in achieving its goals. Such training programs also fully explore why effective public involvement
3-58 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking programs can prove invaluable to getting better information to decisionmakers so that they can make better decisions. â¢ The National Highway Institute (NHI) and the National Transit Institute (NTI) conduct adult education training courses for transportation practitioners in the area of public involvement. The NHI conducts a course, Public Involvement and the Transportation Decision Making Process, and the NTI has its own course, Public Involvement in Transportation Decision Making. These two courses both touch upon specific strategies appropriate to reaching out to low-income and minority populations. The NHI course, Fundamentals of Title VI/Environmental Justice, presents participants with a framework for using a variety of approaches and tools for accomplishing environmental justice goals in federal-aid programs and other transportation projects. The course includes modules on the critical importance of public involvement and explores forms of collaboration and partnering to plan and deliver projects welcomed by affected minority and low-income communities and populations The NHI course, Effective Communications in Public Involvement, offers a web-based course focused on helping trans- portation officials become better communicators when conducting the public involvement component of transportation planning and project delivery. Participants are offered strategies and techniques to design an effective communications plan, prepare for and conduct all types of public meetings, handle hostile groups and individuals, give effective presentations, and conduct appropriate follow-up activities following events. â¢ The Arizona Department of Transportation trained a cadre of engineers, planners, and other professionals in public participation planning, practices, and evaluation that created a cohesive approach to its public involvement activities. They were able to successfully resolve challenges from communities to their projects by applying some of the approaches and techniques for involving affected stakeholders in the project development process. Establish Cultural Competency Training Programs. Cultural competency training starts from the assumption that there is a body of knowledge and practice that agencies and individuals should strive to possess to better perform their work in a diverse and changing society. For organizations, cultural competency means establishing practices and policies that will make services more accessible to diverse populations, and that provides for appropriate and effective services in cross-cultural situations. This requires greater inclusion of all populations as well as addressing inequities when they arise and conducting a continuous process of self-assessment to evaluate the success of such policies. For individuals, cultural competency is an approach to lifelong learning, communications, and working respectfully with people different from themselves. â¢ Juliet Rothmanâs Cultural Competence in Process and Practice: Building Bridges identifies different ways to assess cultural competency both at the individual and agency levels, which may prove useful to some agencies when designing training sessions. The Linguistic and Cultural Competency Self-Assessment Survey may also be used to stimulate initial thoughts about cultural competency. Training sessions typically include participatory and role-playing activities for those in attendance. Those being trained may be asked to consider a diverse variety of cultural situations in which the practitioner is called upon to consider possible solutions to âbridge the gap.â These activities are usually done in smaller groups to facilitate self-critical reflection and open discussions. It may be helpful to showcase effective practicesâeither from within or outside the agencyâto stimulate the conversation. â¢ The Leading Instituteâs Leading from the Middle is a leadership training program targeted for mid-level professionals in urban planning and community development that teaches how to better manage conflict, lead teams, and promote issues and agendas. Among their one-hour sessions is a module devoted to cultural competency in which participants explore challenges of leadership in diverse organizations and communities as well as how to manage the challenges of diversity to find more creative solutions to problems.
practical approaches 3-59 â¢ The FHWA and the FTA both run courses, seminars, and/or workshops in nondiscrimination. For example, Preventing Discrimination in the Federal-Aid Program: A Systematic Interdisciplinary Approach is not specifically about âcultural competencyâ but emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach for the early recognition of potential adverse impacts that might be discriminatory and the need to develop alternative solutions in all stages of the Federal-Aid Highway Pro- gram (e.g., planning, project development, construction, and research). The LEP Executive Order 13166 is described, among other topics, in the context of nondiscrimination, noting the importance of ensuring LEP persons receive meaningful access to services to avoid dis- crimination on the basis of national origin. It also stresses the need for interdisciplinary staff from the transportation organization to be involved in the development and implementation of Title VI plans that recipients must prepare to meet their nondiscrimination obligationsâ compliance is not solely an obligation of the civil rights enforcement department. Develop Community Hiring Program. A significant problem for transportation agenciesâ one that can result in delays due to community oppositionâmay occur when community members see a project affecting their neighborhood that does not provide employment opportunities or other benefits to local residents. Transportation agencies, community groups, contractors and unions have come together to establish community hiring programs to better connect area residents to project jobs, building broader community support, and give unions and contractors access to pipelines of willing and able workers. Even in periods of economic growth, many traditionally underserved populations suffer from disproportionately high rates of unemployment. A com- munity hiring program can increase employment, build skills, strengthen rÃ©sumÃ©s, and boost area economies for traditionally underserved populations. Many jobs created by community hiring programs are in the construction trades, which are accessible for people without college degrees and for ex-offendersâsegments of the traditionally underserved populations who often have difficulty entering or staying in the labor force. â¢ In 2005, MoDOT entered into a community benefits agreement with a coalition of 30 community organizations to create a community jobs program on its I-64 project, a $535 million Inter- state reconstructionâthe largest project in MoDOT history. MoDOT, using the 0.5 percent of the budget that the FHWA allows to be allocated to training, funded an innovative pre- apprenticeship program for contractors. The project came in three weeks early, $11 million under budget, and was celebrated throughout the region for bringing communities together. It strengthened minority, low-income, and female hiring streams for contractors and unions. It made 450 workers from traditionally underserved communities more qualified, stronger candidates for future employment. And it addressed negative public perceptions of MoDOT, making it easier for them to efficiently complete projects in the future (see Figure 3-47). â¢ The Green Construction Careers Model, inspired in part by the Missouri Model, has been adopted in various versions in Kansas City (MO), Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. The U.S.DOT recently funded a pilot project to implement the Green Construction Careers model for several major transportation projects with budgets of more than $500 million. The Trans- portation Equity Network (TEN) and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) have been holding workshops with transportation officials, faith-based organiza- tions, prime and subcontractors, and small businesses in areas with eligible projects. The workshops outline the approach for dedicating 30 percent of workforce hours on projects to low-income people, women, and minorities, and invest 0.5â1 percent of project budgets on job training. Commit to On-the-Job Training and Workforce Development Programs. On-the-job training (OJT) focuses on skills acquisition within the work environment, generally under normal working conditions. Workers acquire both general skills transferable to another job and specific
3-60 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking skills unique to a particular job. On-the-job training will typically involve verbal and written instruc- tion, demonstration and observation, and hands-on practice. One employee, usually a supervisor or an experienced employee, will offer knowledge and skills advice to a novice employee. OJT is the most widely used training mechanism today in the U.S., and is the oldest form of training. â¢ The FHWA On-the-Job Training Supportive Services lists a number of departments of trans- portation, womenâs organizations, trade organizations and others who have OJT programs funded by FHWA for getting traditionally underserved populations into highway construction careers. The programs include the development of manuals and videos for assessing, guiding and conducting outreach to target populations who could apply for OJT programs; provision of on-site technical assistance to state leadership teams on recruitment, training and employ- ment of target populations in highway construction careers; providing training in highway construction crafts, iron working skills, math for trades, physical conditioning, specific skills training in carpentry, equipment operation, cement finishing and shop classes as well as other skills; and providing stipends, transportation, housing and job placement services for those in training. â¢ The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Office of Civil Rights administers an apprenticeship program for women and minorities to prepare them for journey-level status in highway and bridge construction crafts. The programâs specific intention is to recruit, train, and retain minorities and women in the highway construction industry. Classroom training is given, for those who qualify, in math for trades, financial management, and other relevant skills as well as OTJ training in specific skills areas. Stipends are given to program participants during training, which takes about two years to complete, to reach journey-level status. Their apprenticeship program includes a mentoring feature as part of their training. Institute an Internship Program. High-performing students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs) are recruited to participate in internship programs run by transportation agencies. HBCUs, TCUs and HSIs often have higher percentages of students of color, and many have strong engineering and transportation programs. By entering into internship partnerships Figure 3-47. The Missouri Model and MoDOTâs On-the-Job Trainee program delivered construction job opportunities to minorities and women and is highlighted in the video, Connecting the DOTs: On the Job Training Program, I-64.
practical approaches 3-61 with these academic institutions, the transportation agencies get a pipeline of smart, capable temporary employees who also bring the benefits of diversity into their workplace. The students do meaningful work and begin to build their career path into the transportation industry. If the agency cannot retain them as an employee at the end of the internship, the student still leaves with real-world experience and an expanded network of contacts to build a career and a strong rÃ©sumÃ©. â¢ Morgan State University has partnered with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA), creating two separate internship programs, one for graduate students and one for undergraduates. The graduate student partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation has been in existence for nearly a quarter century. These students come from a variety of majors and are assigned to different offices of the transportation department to work 20 hours weekly during the school year and full-time in the summer months. The summer undergraduate internship program has also been successful. The majority, though not all, of the roughly 200 students who have participated in the program have been Black. Serve as a Mentor. Mentoring, according to the American Management Association, is âa developmental, caring, sharing and helping relationship where one person invests time, know-how, and effort in enhancing another personâs growth, knowledge and skills, and responds to critical needs in the life of that person in ways that prepare the individual for greater productivity or achievement in the futureâ (Shea, 1994). Mentoring is serving as a âpersonal educatorâ for some- one; in this case, a person representing the underserved population who is interested in develop- ing his/her skills and understanding in a particular area or field. The relationship between the mentor and the person being mentored should foster asking questions, trying out new skills and techniques and getting and applying the feedback on the effort, helping the mentee understand his/her strengths and weaknesses and how to employ and/or strengthen them, and âstretchingâ beyond oneâs comfort zone. The mentoring relationship provides for a meaningful level of participation and insight on the part of the mentee. The mentees are able to develop their skills and understanding in a variety of ways, providing special learning opportunities for individuals who are part of a traditionally underserved population. The mentoring relationship can also serve to educate and inform the project management and the mentor on issues, attitudes, and desires of the underserved population represented by the mentee. â¢ Lucy Moore Associates, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has a mentoring clause in all her consulting contracts. She is currently mentoring four people, two of whom are minorities. She also brings in community members as mentees who come to a meeting and indicate their interest in learning about the process and facilitation. Mentoring is a great way to bring new voices into the process. As mentees develop their facilitation skills and understanding of a given process, they can continue to work in the community long after the project is over, serving as a resource for the transportation planning process and other meaningful activities. â¢ The COMTO offers internships and mentoring to college students from traditionally underserved populations. The program, Careers in Transportation for Youth (CITY), focuses on underrepresented youth who are college students that have completed at least their sophomore or junior years and have an interest in public transit or a transportation-related career. This initiative promotes public transportation career opportunities among underrepresented college students, providing internships and mentoring at transit agencies, private transit-related consulting firms, transportation service providers, manufacturers, and suppliers. During that time, the intern will also attend the annual COMTO National Meeting and Training Conference as well as receive the mentoring of transportation professionals. â¢ The ODOT Office of Civil Rights has a Statewide Mentoring Services Program aimed at develop- ing people qualified in the heavy highway and bridge construction industry. The mentorship
3-62 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking program was integrated into the apprenticeship program under the direction of ODOT as a means of complementing their existing activities. ODOT developed training materials for mentors and protÃ©gÃ©s and offered them to organizations interested in including mentoring in their apprenticeship programs. Highway construction contractors also successfully imple- mented the training program and introduced mentoring as a job training method. The pro- gram continues to work with large contractor teams with existing construction contracts and their subcontractors who are Emerging Small Businesses (ESB), pairing them as mentors and protÃ©gÃ©s. Unbundle Project Contracts. Unbundling project contracts means taking single contracts for large projects and breaking them down into smaller contracts for different parts of the projects, making them more accessible for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs). DBE is the federal designation for small businesses owned by women or ethnic minoritiesâgroups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the transportation industry. When a large firm wins a single contract for managing a large project, it effectively limits DBEs to competing for fewer, limited subcontracts. Unbundling project contracts allows agencies to award contracts for smaller components of a project, opening up opportunities for DBEs to participate more broadly, both as prime and subcontractors. It also allows DBEs to become familiar with the contracting process so they can compete for more contracts as they grow, allowing them to be more competitive when eventually competing for prime contracts. And, it is often an economical means for an agency to boost its DBE participation. â¢ WisDOT unbundled the reconstruction contract for the Marquette Interchange in downtown Milwaukee. In addition to breaking up the project by geographic area and ramps, WisDOT separated out individual landscaping, sidewalk, and roundabout contracts giving DBEs further opportunities to compete. The $810 million project was completed in 2008 and 19 percent of the contracts were awarded to DBE firmsâmore than double the federal participation requirement of 8 percent (see Figure 3-48). Implement DBE Programs. The U.S.DOTâs Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) pro- gram is a vehicle for increasing the participation of minority and/or women-owned businesses in state and local procurement. At minimum, U.S.DOT DBE regulations require transportation Figure 3-48. WisDOT increased levels of DBE participation through unbundling construction contracts.
practical approaches 3-63 agencies that receive federal assistance to establish goals for the participation of DBEs and review contract scopes and costs to ensure that these goals are met. DBE programs may also include financial or technical assistance, outreach and partnering, or business development to further foster equal opportunity for firm participation. Small business development is a particularly important asset-building strategy among women and minority communities. DBE programs can successfully help minority and women-owned firms increase their capacity and compete for contracts, as well as build confidence within the transportation agency in DBEsâ ability to reliably provide services. â¢ WisDOT created a mobilization loan guarantee fund (MLGF) targeted at minority sub- contractors to cover their project startup costs. The MLGF had the twin goals of improving access to capital for minority subcontractors, and of growing these subcontractors into prime contractors. The MLGF is ongoing and has received national recognition for its success. An initial investment of $300,000 in the revolving fund has grown to $376,000 through 26 years of interest without a single default. â¢ DBE MentorâProtÃ©gÃ© Programs have been developed by several state transportation agencies (e.g., California, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota), with some variation in their structure and format, to give DBEs the help they need to build their businesses and compete for work in transportation-related contracts. The Ohio DOT Mentor ProtÃ©gÃ© Program seeks to build a broader base of DBEs capable of performing work on highway construction projects. At Ohio DOT, once a mentor firm and a protÃ©gÃ© are teamed up, they jointly establish a mentor-protÃ©gÃ© development action plan. They are expected to hold regularly scheduled meetings and use these meetings to identify barriers to the protÃ©gÃ©âs success; identify manage- ment, accounting, or other professional services that the protÃ©gÃ© may still require; set specific targets for further improvement; and set a deadline for hitting each target. The protÃ©gÃ©âs business plan is a continuing topic of discussion over the life of the relationshipâtypically a 2-year period during which progress toward goals is measured. A supportive services consultant is made available by ODOT to provide advisory services, as needed, and possibly to attend the meet- ings between mentors and their protÃ©gÃ©s. Supportive services may be delivered in any of the following areas: general business management, financial administration, insurance and bond readiness, website development, or business development/marketing, â¢ TxDOT established its Learning Information Networking Collaboration (LINC) to provide mentoring to protÃ©gÃ© firms. The LINC prepares small businesses to bid and perform on TxDOT projects. LINC mentors introduce the protÃ©gÃ© firms to TxDOT staff and to prime contractors by providing networking opportunities. Rather than the traditional arrangement where a non-DBE contractor is a mentor to a DBE firm, TxDOT serves as the mentor in this program.