Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
PlanningEnvironmentReal Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Awards Contacts

Environmental Justice in NEPA: Short Presentation

Slide 1:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena:

Subtitle

Five Pioneering Practices from Recent Projects

January 2013

Graphics

See template

Speaker's Notes  

Slide 2:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Purpose and Agenda

Content
  • Provide an overview of EJ
  • Present 5 effective practices supporting EJ analysis from recent projects
Graphics

None

Speaker's Notes
  • Transportation practitioners struggle with identifying and assessing environmental justice (EJ) impacts as part of project reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsored the development of 10 case studies focused on addressing EJ as part of the review of transportation projects under NEPA
  • The case studies are meant to serve as a reference of effective practices for practitioners and are available on FHWA's EJ Website
  • The purposes of this presentation are to: (1) provide an overview of EJ, and (2) highlight 5 of the effective practices described in detail in the case studies

Slide 3:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

What is Environmental Justice?

Content
  • Populations addressed by EJ:
    • Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    • Low-income
  • Three principles of US DOT's EJ strategy:
    • Avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse effects
    • Ensure full and fair participation in transportation decision-making
    • Prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay of benefits
Graphics

None

Speaker's Notes
  • According to the 1994 Executive Order (EO) 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," EJ addresses minority and low-income populations
  • The Revised DOT Environmental Justice Strategy was issued in March of 2012. The revised strategy continues to reflect DOT's commitment to EJ principles and to integrating those principles into DOT programs, policies and activities. The three basic principles of the DOT's strategy to address EJ are:
    • Avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority and low-income populations
    • Ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process
    • Prevent the denial of, reduction in or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations

Slide 4:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Pioneering Practices from Recent Projects

Content

The Cases:

  • Alston Avenue Project, Durham, North Carolina
  • Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project, Port of Long Beach, California
  • North I-25 Project, Denver to Fort Collins Area, Colorado
  • Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project and Bagley Pedestrian Bridge, Detroit, Michigan
  • Regional Tolling Analysis for the Long-Range Transportation Plan, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • I-70 East Project, Denver Area, Colorado
  • I-16/I-75 Interchange Project, Macon, Georgia
  • Newtown Pike Extension Project, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Business 40 Project, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • SR-520: I-5 to Medina, Seattle Area, Washington
Graphics

None

Speaker's Notes

The next set of slides introduces 5 of the most unique or innovative practices identified through the study of 10 recent transportation projects. The titles of the projects are shown on this slide. Detailed information about these projects and practices is available on the FHWA EJ Website.

The featured projects confirm that there is no uniform approach to addressing EJ. The approach and the depth of analysis are dependent on the nature of the proposed transportation project and how it would affect the community. Thoroughly analyzing issues of EJ combines enhanced public involvement and comparison of the distribution and scale of impacts and benefits.

Slides 5 -6:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #1: Conduct a complete analysis of potential impacts and solutions

Content

Project Profile

  • Study: EA of a 1-mile corridor widening project in Durham, NC in an area with a growing Hispanic/Latino population
  • Key issue: Potential loss of the Los Primos Supermarket
  • Outcome: Public outreach combined with site comparison analysis of Los Primos and an alternative location identify impacts to vehicle-less EJ community
Graphics

Los Primos Supermarket:

Photograph of Los Primos Supermarket, on Alston Avenue in Durham, North Carolina. The market is located at the corner of an intersection. It is a one-story building with a flat, low roof-line and appears to stand-alone.

Alternative supermarket location (former Winn-Dixie):

A photograph of the former Winn-Dixie grocery store shows that it is an abandoned building on a detached site. The building looks very similar to the Los Primos Supermarket building.

Thematic map of vehicle-less households in the Durham project area:

A map showing the vehicleless households by Census Tract within the pedestrian sheds of the Los Primos Supermarket, former Winn-Dixie site, and a third potential grocery store site on Holloway Street, reveals that much of the area served by the Los Primos Supermarket has vehicleless households greater than 45 percent. Most of the pedestrian-shed area served by the other two sites has vehicleless households less than 35 percent.

Speaker's Notes

The impacts of the Alston Avenue widening project in Durham, North Carolina on the surrounding Hispanic/Latino community were associated with the potential loss of the Los Primos Supermarket and the unique services it provides.

To understand the impacts, the DOT had to work with other local agencies, update demographic information throughout the project study, reach out directly to the community through interviews given on location at the supermarket, and conduct a detailed site comparison analysis for the supermarket and an alternative location 5 blocks from Los Primos.

The site comparison analysis involved identifying the pedestrian-sheds for both locations and a detailed assessment of: access and visibility, crime, vehicle ownership, and concentrations of minority- and low-income populations. Based on the multi-level comparison of the alternative site and the current Los Primos site, the North Carolina DOT concluded that relocation to this site could result in impacts to vehicle-less low-income and minority residents in the project area.

In the end, the DOT was able to avoid the Los Primos property and minimize community impacts.

Slide 7:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #2: Use cumulative impact assessment during planning to inform NEPA

Content

Project Profile

  • Study: Cumulative impacts of tolling on a regional basis in a long range plan, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
  • Outcome: Results of the regional analysis supplement the cumulative impacts assessment in NEPA
Graphics

Tolled facility in Texas:

Photograph of a moving car passing under a toll gantry in Texas.

Travel survey zones used for the cumulative impact analysis of tolling:

This map shows the transportation survey zones, or TSZs, in the planning region with 50 percent or higher minority populations and/or 50 percent or more low-income populations. Generally, these zones tend to occur where there is the highest overall population (for example, around Dallas).

Speaker's Notes

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the Dallas-Fort Worth area studied the cumulative EJ impacts of tolled highways in the region's long-range plan.

A first of its kind in Texas, the Regional Tolling Analysis (RTA) used information gathered from the travel demand model to evaluate impacts of proposed transportation projects with a pricing component (e.g., toll roads) on EJ populations throughout the NCTCOG metropolitan planning area. Because the projects involved tolling, low-income populations were the primary focus of the study.

A tool combining Census information and the travel demand model was able to generate a detailed map of the region's EJ population that could be used to evaluate impacts on 16 different dimensions. By considering the potential impacts of all projects in the long range plan together, the NCTCOG was able to get a good sense of the cumulative impacts of tolling.

The RTA found that any cumulative burdens were outweighed by cumulative benefits, and there would be no disproportionately high and adverse cumulative impacts on EJ populations. Information gained during the RTA is included in individual environmental documents for roadway projects that have a tolling element. The RTA completes much of the data-oriented work well before the NEPA process even begins. In addition, considering impacts at the system level can result in a more accurate and thorough examination of potential cumulative impacts of all planned projects as a whole. This analysis supplements but does not replace the complete EJ analysis and associated public involvement conducted as part of the environmental review of projects.

Slide 8:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #3: Use creativity and innovation when designing mitigation for all impacts

Content

Project Profile #1

  • Study: EIS for the combination and upgrade of two marine container terminals at the Port of Long Beach, CA
  • Key issues: Construction noise and cumulative impacts on air quality and health risk
  • Outcome: Mitigation grant program for cumulative impacts, broad public support
Graphics

Port of Long Beach:

Birds-eye view of the Port of Long Beach, showing that the port is an expansive area and is surrounded by extensive development.

Preferential eligibility zones for the port mitigation grant programs in Long-Beach, California:

The four eligibility zones form a circumference around the POLB up to the coast line. The zone in closest proximity to the POLB is most eligible for grant funding.

Speaker's Notes

Cumulative impacts associated with health risks and air quality were key issues of concern to the low-income and minority communities surrounding the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project in the Port of Long Beach (POLB).

The POLB funded a Community Mitigation Grant Program that funds projects that would improve air quality in the region overall, ultimately contributing to mitigation of impacts identified in the EJ analysis for the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project and cumulative impacts from other ongoing port projects and operations. Despite associated impacts, the project received broad support and was approved on April 13, 2009. Project construction started in Spring 2011.

Slide 9:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #3: Use creativity and innovation when designing mitigation for all impacts

Content

Project Profile

  • Study: EA for an interchange project in Macon, GA in a predominantly Black/African American historic community (Pleasant Hill)
  • Key issues: Pleasant Hill was bisected by I-75, has declined, and could be impacted again
  • Outcome: Community-supported Community Mitigation Plan addresses direct and cumulative impacts
Graphics

I-75 through Pleasant Hill in Macon, GA:

Photograph showing Interstate 75 through the community of Pleasant Hill, near Macon, Georgia. The interstate and frontage roads are a major feature in the photograph, with houses on wooded lots on either side.

Speaker's Notes

The community of Pleasant Hill in Macon, Georgia, was bisected by the construction of I-75 in the early 1960s. Forty years later, proposed improvements to the I-16/I-75 interchange had the potential to adversely impact Pleasant Hill once again.

FHWA strongly supported community concerns and recognized the relevance of past impacts from I-75 on the community. FHWA's presence in community meetings and frequent interaction with the project team gave Georgia DOT and the community the confidence and stimulus to correct prior impacts from a past project.

Representatives of the Pleasant Hill neighborhood recognized early on that the proposed modifications to the I-16/I-75 Interchange would improve traffic safety, and focused on the minimization and mitigation of impacts rather than on opposing the project itself. The mitigation plan was developed with input from the neighborhood in several meetings, where neighborhood representatives had the opportunity to provide feedback on draft mitigation plans and suggest alternative measures.

The project team made sure to develop mitigation measures to address not just direct and indirect impacts but also impacts cumulative to the construction of I-75 decades before the project. As stated in the EA: "In mitigating impacts of the current I-16/I-75 Interchange Improvement project on the Pleasant Hill neighborhood, efforts will be made to address impacts caused by the original construction of I-75 through the neighborhood. Though the mitigation efforts today cannot undo past damage to the community, the proposed project will attempt to counter those impacts that can be reasonably addressed." (p. 121)

Measures included in the mitigation plan were: a linear park along the east side of I-75 with a multi-use trail, noise and visual barriers, a heritage tour and historic documentation, improvements to local streets and sidewalks, reconstruction of a pedestrian bridge over I-75, replacement of an open-channel concrete drainage ditch with a grass-covered culvert, and widening of the Walnut Street bridge to include 10-foot-wide sidewalks.

To ensure that the mitigation plan would be implemented and the final EA would transmit this assurance, the Pleasant Hill Historic District and Community Mitigation Plan was included as an appendix to the final EA and signed by representatives of FHWA, Georgia DOT, and the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Investment Group.

Slide 10:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #3: Use creativity and innovation when designing mitigation for all impacts

Content

Project Profile

  • Study: EIS for the extension of a major artery in the Lexington, Kentucky area
  • Key issue: Anticipated indirect impacts of increased land value and redevelopment pressures could force out residences of one of the oldest Black/African American communities in the area
  • Outcome: Community participation leads to a Community Land Trust
Graphics

Newtown Pike Extension project

Project context map showing the limits of the Newtown Pike Extension, which extend from the southeast at Route 27 near the University of Kentucky north to Main Street. The project crosses Broadway and Route 60 and runs to the west of Lexington's Central Business District. There is an interchange between the Newtown Pike and I-64/I-75 north of the business district.

Homes on DeRoode Street in Davistown, Kentucky

Representative housing in this photograph of DeRoode Street in Davistown shows small, single-family, one-story homes on closely spaced lots. The homes need some repair. Cars are parked along the street.

Speaker's Notes

The Newtown Pike Extension project was expected to indirectly increase area land values, effectively forcing out minority and low-income residents in Davistown, one of the oldest Black/African American communities in the Lexington, Kentucky area.

The project team understood that residents of Southend Park within Davistown had the desire to remain in the area, and that they lived in a tight community, interdependent on each other for their daily needs. The main challenge in offering the community a feasible option to remain in the area was to guarantee affordable housing.

A land trust was a way of achieving housing affordability. By not owning the land, only the house, the housing costs would be reduced for residents. Use of the land would be guaranteed by a renewable 99-year lease.

The land trust did find some resistance by residents. The idea of not owning the land, particularly for resident owners that had previously owned their land, was not an easy idea to accept. However, residents were given a voice and a role in helping develop the redevelopment plan to address their concerns and gradually increased their acceptance of the proposed mitigation.

With community participation, a Community Land Trust to provide long-term, sustainable, and affordable housing to community residents so that they could remain in the area even as land values increase.

Slide 11:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #4: Look for community improvement opportunities as part of projects

Content

Project Profile:

  • Study: EA for an interstate bridge project that included a pedestrian bridge component in Detroit, MI
  • Key issues: Mitigating impacts to the largely Hispanic/Latino Mexicantown from original interstate construction
  • Outcome: Bagley Pedestrian Bridge and associated enhancement projects mitigate past impacts and bring the Mexicantown community together
Graphics

Artwork on the Bagley Street Pedestrian Bridge, the "Spiral of Life" (photo 1) and "Spiral Kinship" (photo 2)

"The Spiral of Life," a tile mosaic spanning 40 feet long and 5 feet high located on the eastern wall of the Bagley Street Pedestrian Bridge. This artwork was inspired by the community and incorporated in the transportation project.

Photograph of the "Spiral Kinship," a 12-foot tall metal sculpture, on the East Apron of the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge. The sculpture was inspired by input from the community and designed by a local artist. The photograph shows its simpling swirling form. The photograph was taken at night and the sculpture is lit.

Speaker's Notes

The Bagley Pedestrian Bridge was part of a larger interstate improvement project near Detroit, Michigan. The pedestrian bridge was designed to mitigate impacts from the original construction of the interstate, which divided the minority Mexicantown community.

The Mexicantown community was engaged throughout every phase of the interstate improvement project, including the design of the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge.

The Michigan DOT decided to incorporate public art with the pedestrian bridge by sponsoring a public art competition to select and commission an artist to design a mural and free-standing sculpture. The local artist who was selected engaged the public in the design of both works. Public forums were attended by community residents and DOT staff. Discussions included the history of Mexicantown, how the community was once a thriving Spanish-speaking community when it was divided by the adjacent opening of I-75 and I-96 in 1970, and how the construction of the pedestrian bridge would begin to mend the division of the community, and bridge the small downtowns that have developed on either side of the freeway. The conversations that took place during the public meetings and forums inspired the design of "The Spiral of Life," a tile mosaic spanning 40 feet long and 5 feet high located on the eastern wall of the bridge and "Spiral Kinship," a 12-foot tall metal sculpture.

Young college students and school- age children from the community were engaged to assemble the final mural for placement on the wall of the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge, and most of the project's budget went directly back into the local Michigan economy for fees, services, rentals, and materials.

Michigan DOT learned the value of looking for ways to enhance the community as part of major transportation projects. The Bagley Pedestrian Bridge and associated art work helped to build community trust in the DOT, engage the community in the decision-making process, and give the community a sense of ownership in the project. The public ceremony for the brand new landmark and tourist attraction was marked by the joining of U.S. and Mexican government representatives, along with visitors from across the State and Mexicantown residents, to unveil the two stunning new works of art that grace the bridge's eastern plaza.

Slides 12-13:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Practice #5: Go out to the public and use their input to inform every aspect of the EJ analysis

Content
  • Enhanced public involvement informs all aspects of EJ analysis
  • Compiled practical and innovative techniques featured in the I-70 East (Colorado) and Business 40 (North Carolina) cases:
    • Use a "micro to macro" outreach strategy
    • Educate communities about EJ and the environmental process
    • Educate staff about EJ and the community
    • Maintain a consistent face for the project
    • Build trust through a consistent message
    • Use a high-touch/low-touch approach
    • Conduct meetings for maximum participation
    • Establish a community-outreach process feedback loop
Graphics

Public meeting held for the I-70 East project:

Gathering of individuals attending an outdoor community meeting. The project team is shown wearing the same shirts. It appears the team is explaining maps posted in front of the gathering.

Micro to macro strategy:

Community Outreach - the outreach process is designed to be personal and extensive. It begins at a one-on-one level and expands to bring together the many interests in the corridor.

Puzzle used to educate the public about alternative packaging for the I-70 East project:

This graphic shows a puzzle exercise that was used to explain how alternative elements are packaged into corridor alternatives. The text explains: The process for taking individual pieces of a solution and combining them into an alternative is often confusing. To overcome the confusion, a puzzle exercise was developed to show how an alternative was created from different elements. For example, a corridor alternative consists of an alignment, interchange, and lane type. Using a puzzle approach, the community members were able to see how the alternative elements 'fit' into the larger corridor alternative.

Door-to-door surveys for the Business 40 project:

Business 40 project team members conduct a door-to-door survey with a Black/African-American mother and daughter.

Business 40 Corridor-wide meeting:

Photograph taken during a corridor-wide meeting shows attendees seated around a table, talking and eating. A project team member is recording information on a large tablet that can be seen by all around the table.

Speaker's Notes

Enhanced public involvement to ensure meaningful participation of low-income and minority populations in the environmental review process informs every aspect of the EJ analysis, from identifying populations and understanding what is important to communities, to characterizing impacts and developing appropriate mitigation measures. The 10 projects featured in the case studies provide a wealth of information about both how to reach low-income and minority populations and how to use the information and input gathered from them. Two of the projects in particular, offer practical and innovative techniques: I-70 East in Colorado and Business 40 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The approaches described now are compiled from these two projects:

Use a micro to macro outreach strategy. Design the outreach process to be personal and extensive. Begin on a one-on-one level and then expanded to bring together the many interests in the area. Both projects started with extensive scoping, followed by door-to-door surveys in affected neighborhoods, then expanded into block meetings, neighborhood meetings, and corridor-wide meetings.

Educate communities about EJ and the environmental process. Use working groups to provide an opportunity for residents, businesses, stakeholders, and property owners to continue their participation and learn more about how the scientists, engineers, and planners evaluate specific resources.

Use working groups to solicit input, establish dialogue about specific issues, and educate members about the resources that will be considered in the study. Communicate issues identified through working groups back to project management.

Educate staff about EJ and the community. Make sure lead-agency representatives and consultants who are engaged with the public are familiar with the community. One method is to walk the neighborhoods or participate in door-to-door surveys for a day.

Maintain a consistent face for the project. To build trust in the community and build rapport, ask key members assigned to a project to commit their time and come out to all meetings consistently. These people become the face of the project from start to finish.

Leverage community networks and build trust through a consistent message. When possible, use individuals living within an affected community to assist with outreach efforts, including door-to-door outreach, block meetings, and neighborhood meetings. These individuals can leverage their existing relationships and community understanding to gain credibility and trust, and encourage neighbors to get involved in the project. Train these individuals so that they understand the project and their role. Provide a script regarding the project to ensure that everyone working in community outreach provides a consistent message.

Use a high-touch/low-touch approach to understand your audience. Employ various techniques to reach out to the representative communities. If there is a prevalence of low-income and minority communities, a "high-touch" approach may be appropriate. A high-touch approach means that meeting reminders and project information are provided in more than one way, directly into the community. Whereas, for some non-EJ populations, an email blast or a flyer (low-touch approaches) may do; for the EJ population it might be best to post project or project-meeting information at various locations, such as recreational centers, churches, barber shops, beauty salons, etc., to encourage dissemination of information through word of mouth.

Conduct meetings for maximum participation. Give careful consideration to the design and lay-out of meetings. For the corridor-level meetings for both projects, a "snake" formation was developed. This involved attendees signing in, being handed a package of project information, having a concierge explain the purpose of the meeting, and being helped with food service and escorted to a table for a discussion of the issues. At the table, attendees would be surrounded by neighbors and friends, and the facilitator would listen to their input and combine everything that was said. Community outreach staff members were dressed in orange T-shirts with name tags and could be pulled aside to ask for assistance. Staff members would also clean the tables so that the community could focus solely on the issues discussion.

Establish a community-outreach process feedback loop. Hold a forum or other meeting with the community to solicit insights and suggestions on how to improve the community-outreach process - then act on the input.

Slide 14:

Title

Environmental Justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena: Five Practices

Subtitle

Conclusions

Content

What the practices confirm:

  • There is no uniform approach to addressing EJ in NEPA
  • The depth and breadth of analysis is context-specific
  • Meaningful participation of EJ populations is always essential

Visit FHWA's EJ Website for further information (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice/)

Graphics

None

Speaker's Notes

The pioneering practices from recent NEPA projects highlighted in this presentation can be used by transportation practitioners trying to identify; understand; and avoid, minimize, or mitigate EJ impacts as part of their transportation projects.

While there is no uniform approach to addressing EJ issues, early, extensive, and far-reaching engagement of minority and low-income populations as part of the NEPA review process is essential. Determining whether impacts are disproportionately high and adverse is a difficult aspect of the environmental review process, requiring a careful approach and thorough documentation. While the community context and resources impacted varied across the projects, the common denominator to all successes was working closely with the public to understand and address their needs.

For more information please visit FHWA's EJ Website.

Updated: 02/13/2013
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000