An Assessment of how State and Regional Transportation Agencies Advance Equity in Transportation Plans, Processes, and Implementation

Research Team: Jesus M. Barajas (lead), Asiya Natekal, and Carolyn Abrams

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Over the last year-and-a-half, there has been concentrated activity among departments of transportation (DOTs) at all levels to reckon with the role that systemic racism in the transportation system has had and continues to have on Black and Brown communities. Approaches to equity-based practices vary significantly across the United States and across agencies responsible for state, regional, and local transportation planning and programming; federal guidance has not yet been established for directing agencies how to adopt transportation equity as a planning framework. Thus, peer learning is currently the best means to understand the most promising methods for advancing transportation equity.

Project Description: This report examines how state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in California evaluate and advance equity in transportation plans, processes, and implementation. The report also concludes with recommendations for the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on promising practices Caltrans, MPOs, and other transportation agencies in California can adopt to advance transportation equity across the state. The researchers selected six state DOTs to review in depth, and used a content analysis to examine state DOT plans and strategy documents to identify how they are incorporating equity practices and performance measures in their work, focusing primarily on long-range transportation plans (LRTPs) and active transportation2plans. They interviewed key staff at five of the six DOTs to identify additional innovations in equity-based methods and gaps in knowledge and practice. Finally, the researchers reviewed the LRTPs and federal transportation improvement program (FTIP) documents from six California MPOs to describe how regional agencies in the state are using equity principles to prioritize projects.

Status: Completed

Budget: $20,000