Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Guidance for Conducting Community Impact Assessments

A PDF of this Webinar is located here (PDF, 5MB).

PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®

Slide 1:

Webinar Series on Environmental Justice (EJ): Guidance for Conducting Community Impact Assessments (CIAs)

Slide 2: Speakers

Sharlene Reed
FHWA Office of Human Environment

Brenda C. Kragh
FHWA Office of Human Environment

Katiann Wong-Murillo
FHWA Resource Center

Ann Steedly
Planning Communities, LLC

Anne Morris
Anne Morris and Associates, LLC

Slide 3: Agenda

Today we will be discussing these five topics:

Slide 4: Introduction (Sharlene Reed)

Over the course of the past year we have accomplished many objectives in EJ and have made significant progress in moving forward EJ in the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). After the initial signing of the USDOT EJ Strategy, we set out to ensure that changes identified in the updated strategy were being adhered to accordingly.

For example in December 2011, we completed and posted Guidance for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and EJ. In May 2012 we held extensive training in Leesburg, Virginia entitled Learning and Development Seminar for Planning, Environment, Air Quality, Realty and Civil Rights (PEAR-C) which had a unique focus on Civil Rights and EJ. In July 2012, we held EJ Training here in Washington, DC. A summary report on that training will be posted on the EJ website this week.

We have had several webinars which focused on EJ with Federal Transit Authority (FTA), National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). We are in the process of developing a series of webinars including this one to help practitioners to better understand how to incorporate EJ into their plans and programs. Additionally we will be looking at Training courses offered by the National Highway Institute (NHI) to ensure that the content is current and reflects current practices. Lastly, we have been working on case studies specific to NEPA and EJ and expect a release of these case studies by mid-January 2013.

The purpose of today's webinar is to help practitioners use existing tools to help them better identify EJ issues and communities. Community Impact Assessments (CIAs) is a great way to get started.

Let's take a look at how EJ got started.

Slide 5: Laws and Executive Orders on Nondiscrimination

Environmental Justice

Title VI

Other Nondiscrimination Statutes

Other EOs

NOTES: Title VI refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act is the root of Federal nondiscrimination policies, and Title VI is a major title within the Act. It states that no person in the United States shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any Federally-funded program, policy, or activity on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The Federal Highways regulation for Title VI specifically references "minority" populations in its list of definitions:

"23 CFR 200.5(j) - Persons - Where designation of persons by race, color, or national origin is required, the following designations ordinarily may be used: "White not of Hispanic origin," "Black not of Hispanic origin," "Hispanic," "Asian or Pacific Islander," "American Indian or Alaskan Native." Additional subcategories based on national origin or primary language spoken may be used, where appropriate, on either a national or a regional basis."

The 1994 Executive Order 12898 on EJ is based on Title VI and applies to minority and low-income populations. Although it is a Presidential Executive Order and not a law, any agency that accepts Federal funds must follow all relevant Federal requirements, including Executive Orders. This Order on EJ instructs the government to "identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of our programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations."

Title VI has come to be a collective term for nondiscrimination statutes with similar wording and protection provided in Title VI (statutes such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Older Americans Act of 1965, Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and US Code 23- Section 324: Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex). Various statutes protect various groups from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, handicap/disability, and creed. As with any law, code, or regulation, government agencies must comply with these statutes or risk being challenged in court.

The 2000 Executive Order 13166 on improving access to services for populations with Limited English Proficiency is important to CIAs as well. Practitioners may need to include translated materials, provide interpreters, or otherwise change how information is presented for those who are not native English speakers.

The 1997 Executive Order 13045 on the "Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks," is also relevant to CIAs.

Slide 6: DOT/FHWA EJ Populations


Low Income

NOTES: Both the USDOT Order and the FHWA Order on environmental justice define EJ populations as:

"Any readily identifiable groups of minority persons or low-income persons who live in geographic proximity, and if circumstances warrant, geographically dispersed/transient persons (such as migrant workers or Native Americans) who will be similarly affected by a proposed FHWA program, policy, or activity."

The updated FHWA Order on Environmental Justice clarifies the definition of minority:

"Minority. A person who is:

(1) Black: a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa;

(2) Hispanic or Latino: a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race;

(3) Asian American: a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent;

(4) American Indian and Alaskan Native: a person having origins in any of the original people of North America, South America (including Central America), and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition; or

(5) Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa or other Pacific Islands."

The updated FHWA Order on Environmental Justice defines a "low-income" individual as:

"Low-Income. A person whose median household income is at or below the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, the poverty guideline is $23,050 for a family of four (as of 2012) [See]. There is a difference between poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines. The US census uses the poverty thresholds. Poverty guidelines are used by the department of health and human services and are a simplification of the poverty thresholds. The guidelines are used to determine financial eligibility for Federal programs.

Slide 7:


Slide 8: History and Context for Community Impact Assessments (Brenda C. Kragh)

Slide 9: Definition of CIA

A Community Impact Assessment is an iterative process to evaluate the effects of a transportation action on a community and its quality of life.

NOTES: CIA stands for Community Impact Assessment, and was coined around 1987. The area was formerly known as Socio-Economic effects, so it needed a name change to catch attention. A CIA is an iterative process that raises awareness and understanding of both positive and negative effects of proposed transportation actions on the human (i.e. social and economic) environment. CIA uses data analysis as well as broad community engagement to enable informed transportation decisions in compliance with Title 23 U.S.C. 109(h), which we will discuss shortly.

The definition shown in black on the screen was taken directly from the 1996 publication, "Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Guide for Transportation"-also known as the "CIA Small Purple Book" and the "CIA Bible." The only change here is the addition of the word "iterative" to reflect the fact that communities and populations are constantly changing, in the same way that the transportation system is also constantly changing.

Slide 10: 1970 Federal Aid Highway Act

Title 23 United States Code Section 109(h), covers:

The 23 USC 109(h) requirements have appeared in regulations as well as FHWA Order 6640.8a (NEPA) and 6640.23a (EJ).

Slide 11: CIA Foundation and Milestones

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969

23 United States Code (U.S.C.) 109(h)
Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice
CIA Quick Reference Guide ("The Purple Book")
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
FHWA publishes Flexibility in Highway Design
1997- 2001
FHWA pilots CSS with 7 states
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
1st National CIA Workshop
FHWA targets nationwide CSS implementation by 2007
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users
Planning & Environmental Linkages
Complete Streets
DOT/HUD/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities
Livability Initiative with Multi-Modalism

NOTES: The "Community Impact Assessment" process was created in order to guide practitioners in effectively addressing laws, regulations, and executive orders pertaining to potential human impacts of transportation activities as well as addressing nondiscrimination. The CIA process is based on data gathering and public engagement.

With the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1970, agencies were compelled to assess the environmental impacts of major transportation improvements. Initially the focus was primarily on natural resource impacts, with their many laws and agency oversight organizations, but over time FHWA and State DOTs have strived to be more sensitive to the human environment as an equally important component. Consequently, a better understanding and assessment of community issues in relation to transportation actions became increasingly important in the transportation decision-making process.

In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) legislation listed "interested parties" that should be involved in planning. That legislated list of "interested parties" grew in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21) and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU). You can download a file that describes the "interested parties" involved in planning from the File Share pod on the left side of your screen.

In 1994 FHWA and DOTs grappled with how to implement Executive Order 12898 on EJ. We even heard words like "unfunded mandate." But, when asked, FHWA Headquarters (HQ) replied, if you do a good job on Title VI and related statutes, and 23 USC 109(h), little to no additional work will be necessary.

In 1995, FHWA, at the request of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), began to clarify CIA requirements. FHWA worked to enhance the capacity of transportation professionals to address impact issues associated with transportation actions on communities, including minority and low-income populations. FHWA, with the assistance of select practitioners from State DOTs, published a guidance booklet by practitioners for practitioners in September 1996, entitled Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Reference for Transportation. This publication outlines the CIA process, highlights critical issues, identifies tools and resources, and heightens awareness of the impacts of proposed transportation actions on communities, neighborhoods, and people. And thus, the CIA movement was born.

Since 1998, FHWA HQ has:

Along the way, data availability, public involvement and outreach have matured and advanced, pushing us toward collaborative decision-making involving the public, agency stakeholders, and traditionally underserved populations to ensure the mobility needs of all are considered.

Slide 12: Summary


Slide 13: Applications of Community Impact Assessments (Katiann Wong-Murillo)

Slide 14: Applications of CIA

CIA provides a methodology for information gathering.

Practitioners can use this process of information-gathering to inform activities throughout the transportation processes and decision-making.

This helps practitioners to comply with Federal statutes and executive orders on nondiscrimination.

The CIA process is best applied as an integral part of all transportation decision-making processes, including planning, NEPA, and other aspects of transportation practice

Good CIA integrates broad transportation needs with community functions and visions, as well as environmental and cultural preservation needs. Public outreach and involvement is a key component of CIA, which helps to fulfill Federal requirements and also ensures good planning.

Slide 15: CIA in the Transportation Process

The CIA process plays an integral role throughout all phases of the transportation planning process from Planning through Project Development, Design, Construction, and Operations and Maintenance.

Early integration of CIA in the planning and early project-development phases is especially important.

Slide 16: CIA in Transportation Planning

CIA plays many important roles in the Planning Phase of Project Development. It is instrumental in helping practitioners to:

Slide 17: Planning Regulations That Relate to CIA

NOTES: This slide lists planning regulations that reinforce the importance of "community impact assessments." These regulations are important because they provide a regulatory foundation, ensuring that the planning process is transparent and inclusive. If there are ever any questions regarding why and how the public should be involved, practitioners should reference these regulations.

Slide 18: Planning Regulations That Relate to CIA (continued)

Interested Parties: Citizens, affected public agencies, freight shippers, private providers of transportation, providers of freight transportation services, representatives of the disabled, public transportation employees representatives, bicycle and pedestrian facilities users representatives, public transportation users representatives, and other interest parties.

NOTES: As mentioned on the previous slide, 23 CFR 450 requires agencies to conduct public involvement.

There are certain stakeholders (i.e. "interested parties") that must be involved. This slide displays these "interested parties" as defined in the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill of 2005.

Practitioners should be mindful of this list in conducting CIAs.

Slide 19: CIA and Fostering a Seamless Transition

Integrated planning and linking planning and NEPA can help to weave together intra and inter-agency coordination and data sharing between transportation agencies, resources agencies, and the public, throughout all phases of transportation practice.

NOTES: As an iterative process that will occur in all phases of transportation practice, CIA can help to ensure that information gathered during planning helps to inform the NEPA process. This supports "Planning and Environmental Linkages," (PEL), a FHWA initiative to foster integrated planning and streamlined project development and environmental review.

This slide depicts the PEL process. In the schematic, agencies and the public (green stripes at left) interact with one another through collaborative processes (in the vertical blue stripes) to advance information through planning, NEPA, and all phases of transportation practice.

Slide 20: CIA in the NEPA Process

FHWA NEPA Process: Wetlands, endangered species, safety, air quality, parklands, historic resources, civil rights, environmental justice, traditional cultural properties, transportation enhancements, state and local laws, flexible design, all applicable federal laws, and community impacts.

NOTES: NEPA requires Federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions. This includes the relationship of people with that environment.

The FHWA requires that the NEPA process consider many different elements, and CIA can help to ensure that practitioners gain an adequate understanding of the complexities of these components within each given community.

Slide 21: CIA in the NEPA Process

NOTES: The CIA process is important for all of the steps in the NEPA process, regardless of which NEPA class the project falls under (Categorical Exclusions, Environmental Assessments, or Environmental Impact Statements). An understanding of the community is crucial to inform:

Additionally, the CIA process involves significant public outreach and involvement, and this can help to fulfill the NEPA requirements for consultation.

Information gathered through the CIA process should inform final reports.

Slide 22: NEPA Requirements That Relate to CIA

NOTES: This slide lists some Federal requirements that bolster the importance of "community impact assessments" with respect to NEPA. Practitioners should reference these useful regulatory tools to gain a better understanding of the role of CIA in the NEPA process.

Slide 23: Summary

CIA is:

Slide 24: Summary

Key roles of a CIA include:

Slide 25: The CIA Process (Ann Steedly)

Slide 26: What is Community Impact Assessment (CIA)?

It's important to remember that CIA is a PROCESS. As stated here:

Community Impact Assessment (CIA) is an iterative process used to evaluate the effects of a transportation action on a community and the community's quality of life.

Slide 27: Key Quality-of-Life Issue Areas

NOTES: The CIA process focuses on key quality-of-life areas to determine potential impacts or effects--positive or negative - as well as to help define potential community-based solutions to transportation issues.

Slide 28: CIA Relationship to EJ and Nondiscrimination

CIA provides the mechanism for: identifying populations and needs, determining effects and alternatives, and developing solutions to address effects.

NOTES: Throughout all aspects of the transportation planning and project development process, CIA plays a vital role in assuring EJ and avoiding discrimination. The CIA process helps practitioners to:

Slide 29: The CIA Process

Study area: EJ Considerations

Community Characteristics Inventory: EJ Considerations

Community effects: EJ Considerations

Identifying solutions: EJ Considerations

NOTES: The CIA process builds upon itself and is iterative with data collection and analysis, and community outreach and participation as well as documentation incorporated throughout each step of the process. The process recognizes the importance of linking data and analysis throughout all levels of transportation decision-making. It is applicable to transportation planning and project development as well as the other functional areas of the transportation decision-making process. It is essential in addressing transportation effects on the human environment.

The four main steps presented in the National FHWA course CIA process include identifying an initial study area, developing a Community Characteristics Inventory (CCI), assessing the community effects of transportation alternatives, and resolving issues and identifying solutions. EJ considerations and review are addressed within each step of the CIA process.

In the next slides, we'll review each of these four steps.

Slide 30: Study Area

NOTES: In the first step of the CIA process, an initial study area is identified and functions as a baseline for the analyst. A Study Area could be developed for a project area or a planning study area. Most often, readily available demographic data, such as U.S. Census data, are used to determine the initial study-area boundaries. Study-area boundaries are refined throughout the CIA process through ongoing research, community outreach, and public participation in order to correspond to the boundaries of all the communities potentially affected by a project.

The initial study area may change during the CIA process as new information or data suggest a larger or smaller area to analyze. When making such decisions, it is important to document why or how a study area changed.

This slide illustrates an example in Greenville, North Carolina where the presence of EJ (low-income, minority and non-English speaking) populations and true distribution of community facilities including major employment centers, schools and community and child care centers triggered a significant expansion of the study area.

Slide 31: Defining and Revising the Study Area

NOTES: There are many resources that practitioners may use to establish the study area:

Conversations with local planners and stakeholders provide critical information to confirm or adjust study area boundaries derived from other data sets. It is important within the development of the CIA study area to identify the locations of EJ populations, historic patterns, cohesive elements, and facilities and services utilized by community members.

Slide 32: Community Characteristics Inventory (CCI)

NOTES: The CCI, also referred to as a Community Fact Sheet or Community Profile, is a snapshot of the community:

Slide 33: Community Characteristics Data Sets

NOTES: Many datasets will have an important bearing on community impact assessments. Some examples include:
U.S. Decennial Census and American Community Survey can provide data on:

State agencies and data centers can provide:

Economic data from the census, state and local sources on:

Transportation data may include:

State and local GIS data on:

Community questionnaires and surveys are an important source to obtain and verify other data.

Slide 34: Identifying EJ Populations in the CCI


Low-Income: No set thresholds

NOTES: The Community Characteristics Inventory, or CCI, can be used to identify environmental justice populations (as well as other vulnerable populations). Here are some key criteria to keep in mind when identifying minority and low-income populations for an environmental justice analysis:

A Minority community is generally defined as one where the minority population is either:

The updated FHWA Order on Environmental Justice defines a "low-income" individual as:

"A person whose median household income is at or below the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines." FHWA also allows the use of the census poverty thresholds, since the HHS guidelines are based on the census poverty thresholds (as described on slide 6 of this presentation)

Although the definition of a "low-income individual " is clear, there are no set thresholds for the identification of a "low-income community." A Low-Income community can be determined based on the percent of the population below the poverty level, the percent of the population that is "very poor" (under 50% of poverty level), or the percent "near poor" (between 100% and 150% of poverty level), or some combination of the above.

Slide 35: How to Collect Data and Input

NOTES: Data and input should be gathered through an iterative process starting with a data driven "desktop" review using - data sources and mapping we discussed. It is important to verify and build upon this with what we "see" and what we "hear":

Slide 36: Community Effects

Community effects: safety/health, economic, sensory/aesthetic, displacement, land use, socio-cultural, mobility/access.

NOTES: The Community Effects phase of the CIA process is the assessment of positive and negative effects for each key issue area as related to alternatives. The relative magnitude of community effects will vary across communities and neighborhoods. An issue perceived in one community as adverse might be tolerated or even seen as desirable in another. This may be the case with a certain type of business or development being impaired.

ECONOMIC effects may include the following:

SOCIO-CULTURAL effects may include the following:

Safety/Health effects may include the following:

Slide 37: Resources for Determining Community Effects

Data and analyses:

Reports and methodologies:

NOTES: Many different types of resources can be used to provide input into the analysis and determination of community effects. Here is a small selection of sample analyses. Not every study area here will be needed to inform the CIA for a given project. The types of analyses that are appropriate can be identified during project scoping and the development of the CCI.

Slide 38: Analyzing EJ Impacts

NOTES: The CCI lays the foundation for practitioners to understand the proportional distribution of the EJ population (or populations). Even if all of the alternatives pass through EJ areas, proportionality may still be an issue if the area for all alternatives is higher than the surrounding/reference populations.

Practitioners should be aware of clustering effects; if all individuals living along the roadway or an area that a proposed alternative will impact are an EJ community, there may be an issue of proportionality even if the larger census area does not meet a defined threshold .- The determination of EJ impacts is both a science and an art.

As noted earlier, whether certain impacts will be categorized as positive or negative will be influenced by how they are perceived by the community. This requires careful balance between community input and professional judgment so that "minority" opinion within even an EJ area is also protected and competing interests are considered (Alston example).

Recurring impacts of past, present, and anticipated actions are especially important to review where EJ populations are present.

Slide 39: Identifying Solutions

NOTES: Developing a CIA is a systematic process that identifies issues early and streamlines the identification of solutions. If the CIA process is followed in earnest, then transportation decisions will be reflective of a community's vision of wellbeing. This lies at the heart of the key outcomes of success associated with Context Sensitive Solutions, or CSS. Consequently, this last step in the CIA process represents the culmination of coordination between CSS and CIA.

From an EJ standpoint, key concepts for this step are: EJ outreach requirements and requirements to address/mitigate impacts, with EJ impacts having some standing.

Slide 40: CIA Documentation

Initial study area

Community characteristics

Community effects

Identifying solutions

NOTES: To review, CIA is an iterative process which includes:

Any mitigation strategies and their effects should also be evaluated in identifying a solution that best fits the community context and larger community goals and vision. This reveals the iterative nature of the CIA process.

Slide 41: Public Involvement and Data Collection for Community Impact Assessments (Anne Morris)

Slide 42: CIA's Link to Public Involvement

CIA is dependent on public involvement

NOTES: One cannot conduct a good CIA without a robust public involvement program. The public often requests analyses of potential impacts to address concerns. CIA makes public involvement more meaningful by informing public dialogue. In turn, public involvement provides the necessary information for conducting CIA.

Public involvement helps to:

Public involvement is required as a part of planning, NEPA, Title VI, EJ and other nondiscrimination compliance requirements.

Public involvement also has other important functions. It helps to inform stakeholders & interested parties, increases public confidence, reduces conflict, and improves transparency and accountability. In exchange for participation in a fair process, citizens often are willing to support the outcome of the process even if their preferred alternative isn't elected. This is sometimes known as informed consent.

Key components of public participation are:

There may be some barriers to public involvement. Historically, some minority and low-income communities have a community history that has led to an absence of trust with government. The concerns of such groups have been ignored in decision-making processes. This has fostered suspicion and distrust of government. Such groups are particularly skeptical that their opinions will be taken into account in decision-making.

Additionally, language or cultural barriers may exist. Cultures view authority differently. For historical, economic and linguistic reasons, some groups and cultures may hesitate to speak-up or vocalize opinions about government actions or disagree with authority.

Slide 43: Strategies for Public Involvement

NOTES: Public involvement can take many different forms. The most effective approach will depend upon the particular community at hand, so practitioners should strategically consider different methods. I will describe a few examples here but for more information please refer to the resources that we will make available for download at the conclusion of the presentation.

Use existing networks

Working with active neighborhood and community groups, transportation agencies can tap into existing networks and avoid reinventing the wheel when reaching out to interested constituents. Community organizations can reflect community-wide concerns as well as advise an agency on useful strategies for further outreach. These may include: faith-based organizations, social service agencies, youth organizations, and any other groups with firm roots in the community.

Don't Be Overly Reliant on the Public Meeting

Public involvement is too often equated with carrying out formal public meetings. However, public meetings may not be an effective way to get "public involvement." In Orange County, California, attendance at a series of introductory open houses for a planning study was high for all affected population segments except Mexican-Americans. In subsequent meetings with leaders from this community, county planners learned that these constituents were uncomfortable with the open-house format and intimidated by one-to-one interaction. Supplementary, informal, small-group meetings in Latino neighborhoods eventually brought increased participation.

Use media

Television and radio are free media, as are newspapers in some instances, but in other instances they are for sale. When using newspapers, realize some racial/ethnic groups may not be able to read English or their own language. For them, English and their own language may only be oral languages. If community members can read English and their own language, newspapers can be an effect way to reach your community.

Consider Cultural Factors

Slide 44: Census/American Community Survey


NOTES: I start my data collection with the Census and the American Community Survey because they provide a wider array of topics and the ability to drill down to a more detailed level. These are the topics I generally start with.

The first 5 topics provide information relative to EJ (race, ethnicity, and income) and LEP (languages people speak and how well they speak English) and where they come from.

Age provides information relative to ADA considerations, large print use or Braille, need for afternoon or morning meetings, need for signers for the deaf, Section 508 compliant websites, etc.

Education attainment provides information about years of school completed and degrees received and makes you consider reading ability.

Travel time to work provides information relative to what time meetings can be held based on how far away jobs are.

Time leaving home for work provides information relative to the prevalence of 1st shift, 2nd shift, and 3rd shift workers and how this affects times for meetings

Mode of transportation provides information relative to personal vehicle dependency, number of people to walking, availability of public transit, and potential ways to reach the public with low-frequency radio (e.g. flyers on buses).

Zero vehicle households provides information about availability of personal transportation and where meetings should be located so these households can attend.

Housing units in structure provides information about the prevalence of mobile homes and multi-family structures.

Slide 45: Poverty and Race/Ethnicity

National Center for Education Statistics

GreatSchools Inc.

Slide 46: Literacy and Language Spoken

Slide 47: Housing

Slide 48: US Department of Agriculture

USDA provides the name and addresses (street, city, zip, county) for all stores that accept Food Stamps. Contact the store managers in your study area and find out when their EBT period is.

Slide 49: Festivals and Events

Piggybacking on local festivals events is often a great way to engage specific populations. Most of the time it is easier for you to go to them, then ask them to come to you.

Slide 50: Chambers of Commerce

Chambers of commerce also generate information on local events, and can provide a list of their members that might be in your study area. They also could be great places for you to make a presentation about your projects and learn who the formal and informal community leaders are. Ask them to distribute information about their meetings.

Slide 51: Colleges and Universities

Students at four-year and community colleges often make good part-time employees and they know their local surroundings.

Slide 52: Racial and Ethnic Groups

These organizations can provide in-roads into communities and be sources of part-time employees. Often the organizations include formal community leaders who can help identify informal leaders.

Native Americans, whether or not they belong to a Federally recognized tribe, are still EJ populations. Different tribes have different ways of wanting to be engaged. FHWA and BIA can be helpful in engaging these individuals. These sites provide the name of tribes in each state.

Slide 53: Faith-Based Organizations

Faith-based organizations can provide "safe" meeting locations for some individuals and can provide opportunities to address their congregants. Bigger organizations also serve as food banks or medical clinics or recreation centers. These sites all provide contact information.

Slide 54: Media Outlets

These sites provide the call letters for all radio stations by city by format (country, Spanish, religious, talk, etc.). They provide the call letters of all non-cable stations by city. They also provide the names of all newspapers (mainstream and ethnic)

There are services such as Gebbie that are for hire. Reading services for the blind are free and often reach those who have low literacy. Information about your project can be sent to them. All states have some type of reading services for the blind.

Slide 55: Favorites

MelissaDATA has a wealth of information. You can pull down 50 pieces of data per day per computer email address.
Polk City Directories are produced each year and are an excellent way to look up by address who lived where on what date, what business operated at that address on a certain date. Most main libraries carry directories from the early 1900s. Today they can provide you with the type of business and the number of employees.
Walk Score provides information by address of stores and other kinds of businesses within varying distances and address.
RealEstateabc provides estimates of housing values

Slide 56: Mapping the Input

Map based analyses can help practitioners to visualize factors that may influence community impacts and "disproportionately high and adverse effects." Map-based analyses can be done on a variety of levels. The simplest and cheapest option is to sketch factors on a map. If available, Geographic Information Systems software can provide opportunities for more complex analyses.

Prior to going into the field we used Google to try and locate a variety of community facilities. We were able to identify over 40 faith-based organizations, but it wasn't until we went into the field that we found at least 40 more faith-based organizations in the study area.

Slide 57: Field Verification

Field verification is important to cross reference information gathered through databases and ensure that it accurately reflects actual conditions. If you are only planning to make one trip to the site, which might not be enough, take your whole team with you and stay for a week. You need to begin to feel familiar with the area. You need to be there on week days as well as weekends, because travel patterns and major generators maybe different. Stop at volunteer fire departments and find out if they have spaghetti suppers. The two best days to do surveying are Election Day and Black Friday. Call the local voter registrar and ask where polling places are located. Go there and set up a table with cookies. On Black Friday go to the largest or nearest mall and ask to rent a space for a table and chairs and conduct surveys.

Slide 58: Look for the Seen and Unseen

Slide 59: Look at All Sides of the Community

Before you go into the field put together identical aerial photo book of the study area and give one to each member of your team. Write all notes and identification of gas stations, faith-based organizations, recreation centers, parks, etc., in these books. Remember, windshield surveys by themselves are never enough. Make sure everyone on your team has a camera and tell them to take more pictures than they think is necessary. Bring a video camera and record each street by driving in one direction and then turning around and driving in the other direction. Bring your "office in a box," you never know when you might need office supplies. Pull your team together at meals and discuss what each person saw and didn't see. Save these books as documentation.

Slide 60: Summary of Public Involvement and Data Collection

Slide 61: Summary Points from the Webinar


Slide 62: Summary

For more information and additional resources, visit:

Slide 63: Speaker Contact Information

Brenda C. Kragh
FHWA Office of Human Environment

Katiann Wong-Murillo
FHWA Resource Center

Ann Steedly
Planning Communities, LLC

Anne Morris
Anne Morris and Associates, LLC

Updated: 1/13/2017
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000