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1-1 Purpose of Guidebook Presidential Executive Order 12898, âFederal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,â directs federal agencies to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. Executive Order 13166, âImproving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,â requires federal agencies to improve access to federally conducted and assisted programs and activities for persons who, as a result of national origin, are limited in their English proficiency. The number of U.S. residents for whom English is a second language is increasing, and the greatest propor- tion of these residents with limited English proficiency and low literacy fall within minority and low-income populations. Both executive orders are based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin, by gov- ernment agencies that receive federal funding. Fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people and enforcement of all laws, regula- tions, and policies are essential principles to promote nondiscrimination, environmental justice, and the public health, safety, and welfare of all communities. Transportation agenciesâstate departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, county and local govern- ments, transit services, and tribal authoritiesâimplement many different approaches to meet the letter and spirit of federal laws, regulations, and executive orders. Effective transportation decisionmaking depends upon recognizing, responding to, and properly addressing the unique needs, cultural perspectives, and financial limitations of different socioeconomic groups. Devel- oping an understanding of the value systems and viewpoints of these groups can be greatly aided by implementing a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to engaging the public in trans- portation decision-making processes. Transportation agencies are finding that traditional public involvement techniques are often inadequate, effectively limiting meaningful involvement by traditionally underserved popula- tions in the transportation decision-making process (see box titled, âWho Are the Traditionally Underserved Populations?â). Achieving meaningful involvement with the public means that potentially affected community stakeholders and residents have an opportunity to participate in decisions about a proposed activity that will affect their environment, safety, or health. It means that affected communities have an opening to influence government decisions and that all involved participants will be considered in the decision-making process. There are times when agencies and practitioners despair that, despite their best efforts, the public is simply too busy with everyday lifeâat work, at home, at school, and at playâto care about planning or other transportation-related decisions. This may be true in some cases, but C h a p t e r 1 Introduction
1-2 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Who Are the Traditionally Underserved Populations? The FHWAâs rules for the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Process (Title 23 CFR Part 450.316(a)(1)(vii)) require that an MPOâs public participation plan describe explicit procedures, strategies, and desired outcomes for seeking out and considering the needs of those traditionally underserved by existing transportation systems, such as low-income and minority households. The traditionally underserved can be defined as those specifically identified in Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justiceâthat is, low-income popula- tions and minority populations including Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans/ Blacks, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americansâas well as other popula- tions recognized in Title VI and other civil rights legislation and executive orders, including those with limited English proficiency such as the foreign-born, low- literacy populations, seniors, Americans with disabilities (including those who are visually and hearing impaired) as well as in transportation legislation, such as transit-dependent populations. Several interviewees for this study defined the traditionally underserved in terms of their vulnerability and the difficult economic, physical, or social circumstances that they experienced. The traditionally underserved included persons with low educational attainment (i.e., those without a high school degree), the unemployed or the underemployed who may have less access to opportunities. Single mothers, undocumented workers, immigrants with limited English profi- ciency, the homeless, substance abusers, and domestic violence victims are vulner- able populations. Women, elderly, physically or mentally impaired persons, late- night transit-dependent workers, or youth may have limited mobility options, particularly complex travel needs (e.g., trip-chaining and transit transfers), or have excessively difficult commutes in terms of time or risks to personal safety to reach jobs or other opportunities because of their isolation (i.e., distance or time- of-day). Transportation solutions need to be combined with other land use plan- ning, social service, education, and health care initiatives to alleviate persistent disadvantages experienced by all persons in-need. Terms synonymous with, or close in definition to, âtraditionally underservedâ include âhistorically underrepresented,â âsocially disadvantaged,â âvulnerable,â âat-risk,â âin-need,â and âcommunities of concern.â These terms, in general use or referenced in reports and governing policies, share a recognition that some individuals and groups experience a persistent inability to meet basic needs, access opportunities to improve their circumstances, or influence decisionmakers because of their social position, lack of resources, or powerlessness. The terms encompass both protected and unprotected classes and groups under the nationâs existing civil rights laws and other laws, regulations, and executive orders. âTraditionally underservedâ populations may be specifically appropriate for use in the field of transportation because it places the onus for remedying conditions upon the governing institutions responsible for equitable delivery of systems and services rather than solely upon the disadvantaged individual. This project focuses on the populations that have been traditionally underserved by existing transportation systems and decision-making processes. The report and toolkit describe criteria for defining and methods for identifying underserved popula- tions, including particularly useful data sources and other tools and resources.
Introduction 1-3 practitioners and agencies can look at the results of their efforts and ask themselves again whether they have done what they could to engage a sometimes distracted, but also sometimes distrustful public. Achieving meaningful involvement therefore may involve finding other cre- ative waysânot just through holding transportation meetings, but in other situations, other forums, other locations, other times, and with the right organizations, the right people or the right incentivesâto reach and connect with the affected public, including traditionally under- served populations. The objective of this research project is to develop a practical and easy-to-use toolkit of practi- cal approachesâa compendium of effective practices, tools and techniques, and data sourcesâ that agencies and practitioners can use to foster the meaningful involvement of traditionally underserved populations, particularly minority, low-income, limited English proficiency, and low literacy groups, in transportation decisionmaking. Transportation agencies need proven tools to effectively engage an increasingly diverse public in the development of transportation solutions that are appropriate to each stage of decisionmaking. Organization of Guidebook The report has been organized into the following chapters: Chapter 1, Introduction, looks back at the nationâs history of siting urban highways and describes key landmark legislation and regulations, executive orders, and agency guidance that have opened up transportation decision-making processes to greater public involvement. The chapter cautions, however, that there is a difference between mandated or formal public involve- ment processes and those that foster meaningful involvement. There are many types of barriers to achieving meaningful involvement, ranging from agency or institutional traditional practices and preferences to individual limitations and inadequate professional training in public involve- ment, environmental justice, civil rights, and limited English proficiency, among other topics. The chapter describes several challenges faced by agencies and individuals when bridging social and cultural gaps that separate the professional practitioner from a diverse set of traditionally underserved populations, suggesting that developing âcultural competencyâ is important for the transportation agency and the dedicated practitioner. Some concluding observations from state- of-the-practice research involving literature reviews and interviews offer a rationale for a guide- book to better involve traditionally underserved populations in decision-making processes. Chapter 2, Patterns, Trends, and Factors Driving Change, presents an overview of the chang- ing demographics of the U.S. population with a focus on topics relevant to transportation agencies and practitioners today in meeting the letter and spirit of the nationâs current laws and policies and that promise to be of enduring importance when working to engage traditionally underserved populations. The highlighted patterns, trends, and factorsâdrawn from the realms of demograph- ics, economics, and communicationsâwill drive changes in transportation demand and alter the socioeconomic context in which we live. These changes create new challenges for practitioners, agency leadership, elected officials, and the larger society of citizens and stakeholders to fully grasp and address. The chapter presents definitions and data sources that can be accessed by community impact and public involvement practitioners, policy researchers, and advocates to better identify and address the needs and concerns of traditionally underserved populations. Chapter 3, Practical Approaches, describes tools and techniques, analytical approaches, and effective practices that have been successfully used by agencies and practitioners in trying to foster meaningful participation, particularly on behalf of traditionally underserved populations. Seven task objectives are defined as a rubric for organizing these practical approaches to be undertaken by transportation agencies and practitioners and generally reflect varying levels of engagement,
1-4 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking commitment, and direct beneficial impact for traditionally underserved populations. Thus, task objectives can broadly range from identifying the location or community characteristics of tra- ditionally underserved populations to fostering meaningful participation, instituting reforms, or delivering programs and services to benefit these populations. Some practical approaches are applicable to a specific stage of transportation decisionmaking (e.g., policy research, statewide or metropolitan planning, project development/National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, construction, etc.), while other approaches can be readily applied throughout all or several decision-making stages. The chapter makes brief mention of each practical approach, highlighting successful examples of their implementation by various agencies or organizations. Interested practitioners will find more detailed descriptions and contextual information about the highlighted practical approaches in subsequent chapters. Chapter 4, Effective Practices, and Chapter 5, Tools and Techniques, describe public involve- ment processes, analytical methods, data sources and tools, and proactive strategies as well as programs, plans, projects, studies, and other activities that have brought into clearer view the lives and concerns of various disadvantaged populations. Practices are considered âeffectiveâ if they have improved the understanding of traditionally underserved populations or created envi- ronments in which effective communication is possible, and they have supported or improved inclusive and comprehensive decision-making processes. Practices are deemed âeffectiveâ when they can deliver benefits, mitigate adverse impacts, or change physical, social, and travel condi- tions in ways that are truly welcomed by communities suffering from poverty, isolation, inse- curity, or neglect. Effectiveness can also be defined in terms of the tangible and intangible ben- efits available to transportation agencies that implement more inclusive and comprehensive practices. Agencies that follow through with their commitments to affected communities can enhance their credibility with those communities and organizations. This can lead to broader support and better outcomes for initiatives in the futureâa form of project delivery streamlin- ing that is often underappreciated. Guidance materials and other technical assistance resources have been developed in response to statutes, regulations, and executive orders that make clear the legal authority and obligations for compliance. This first chapter contains such references for that purpose. However, the real challenges that dedicated practitioners may face working within their agencies, or the benefits to the agency or the disadvantaged populations that may be achieved through successful collabora- tions and initiatives, are less often the subject of research. The Effective Practices and the Tools and Techniques chapters present many case examples, offering context and descriptions of the specific activities that agencies and practitioners are using to identify and involve traditionally underserved populations in the decision-making process. Sharing examples presents an opportu- nity to step into the shoes of another practitioner and observe how others are creatively working in ways that influence decision-making processes and deliver tangible benefits to disadvantaged persons and communities. While the examples do not fully measure whether the methods chosen are âoptimalâ or truly âcost-effective,â cost and performance-related information is presented for many of the case examples in order to better assess the merits and limitations of these various initiatives. Authoritative resources and contacts are listed for follow-up research and networking. Chapter 6, Data Sources and Tools, describes data sources and other tools that can be used to prepare a profile of the existing social and economic characteristics of a community, to identify potential partnering organizations, and to conduct additional policy-related research or advocacy-based activities on behalf of traditionally underserved populations. The descrip- tion of each data source identifies the key indicators available from the source, the patterns and trends that the data can measure, the available geographic coverage, timeliness, pros and cons of the dataset, and the potential value of the data source for policy research, planning, impact assessment, and advocacy purposes. Web links to the data sources can be followed to learn more about the source and/or to access datasets.
Introduction 1-5 The Bibliography contains reference materials and other research that informed the develop- ment of the guidebook. Several strands of academic, professional, legal, and community- and issue advocacyâbased research are organized alphabetically into the following sections: Com- munity and Cultural Perspectives; Cultural Competency; Demographic and Cultural Trends and Patterns; Environmental Justice/Title VI, Community Impact Assessment, Health Impact Assessment, and Mitigation; Job Training, Mentoring, and Disadvantaged Business Procure- ment; Legislation, U.S. Code, Regulations, and Guidance Policies; Planning and Project Devel- opment: Context Sensitive Solutions, Bicycle and Pedestrian, and Safe Routes to Schools and Transit; Public Involvement in Decisionmaking; Transportation History; and Tribal Transpor- tation and Tribal Consultation. The Historical Mission and Its Consequences The automobileâs arrival and its widespread adoption led to ever-rising levels of urban traffic congestion in the first half of the twentieth century. Unclogging gridlock within the nationâs cit- ies became a critically important problem for the nationâs professional engineers and planners to solve, as was connecting cities to their suburban and rural areas to support population growth, land development, labor markets, and commerce and trade. Historically, transportation agencies, par- ticularly the state highway agency and the city public works department, were led by those trained in the engineering profession and who hewed closely to a narrowly defined missionâthe efficient processing of traffic to ensure mobility and safety. The solutions proposed and constructed by transportation agencies were considered synonymous with the public good. Transportation agen- cies believed they had the authority and the expertise to define and meet the critical transportation needs of the society. Both planners and engineers embraced the freeway, but they embraced it with different goals in mind. Planners sought to use freeways both as a means of dealing with urban traffic congestion and as a tool for shaping the future development of the city. Planners appreciated the traffic carrying advantages of the new roadways, and they were quick to include the new roads, variously called superhighways, expressways, limited motorways, and freeways in their plans. But planners were also concerned how to integrate freeways into the built landscape, how to coordinate freeway transit and local street planning. Most planners included lengthy discussions of the potential non-transportation effects of freeways in their plans, but they often lacked the hard data needed to convince politicians and engineers of the soundness of their views. . . . Engineers defined the problem of urban transportation as the need to maximize the throughput of motor vehicles, at as low a cost, and they embraced freeways because they were more efficient conduits for the movement of motorized traffic than other roads. . . . Unfortunately, this led some engineers to route free- ways in such a way that they caused the invasion of parks, the demolition of scarce low-cost housing units, and the loss of other amenities (Brown, 2002). Urban expressway building in the post-war Interstate era was costly, particularly in the urban sections. There were critics of this approach to addressing the nationâs urban and transportation problems. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a professor and former advisor to a New York State governor, wrote of the Interstate program in 1960, that âit was a âvast program thrown together, imperfectly conceived and grossly mismanaged, and in due course becoming a veritable play- ground for extravagance, waste and corruptionâ â (Weingroff, 2006). Moynihan continued: It is not true, as it is sometimes alleged, that the sponsors of the interstate program ignored the conse- quences it would have in the cities . . . they exulted in them. Thanks to highways, declared the Clay Report, âWe have been able to disperse our factories, our stores, our people; in short, to create a revolution in living habits. Our cities have spread into suburbs, dependent upon the automobile for their existence.â . . . In general, the program is doing about what was expected. throwing up a Chinese wall across Wilmington, driving educational institutions out of downtown Louisville, plowing through the center of Reno. When the interstate runs into a place like Newburgh, New York, the wreckage is something to see . . . (Moynihan, 1960, 19â20).
1-6 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking For those interested in the future of the central city from the elite professionsâengineering firms, urban planners, real estate developers, central city business organizations, big-city mayorsâ the highway program in the 1950s dovetailed neatly with urban economic development policy. The post-WWII era of Interstate highway construction provided a federally-funded means for rebuilding or enhancing the central cityâs central business district and eliminating blight and deteriorating housing stock through slum clearance and urban renewal. Working within federal traffic engineering guidelines, but with few other constraints, highway builders at the state and local levels routed the new urban expressways in directions of their own choosing. Local agendas often dictated such decisions. In most cities, the result was to drive the interstates through black and poor neighborhoods. Urban blacks were heavily concentrated in areas with the oldest and most dilapi- dated housing, where land acquisition costs were relatively low, and where organized political opposition was weakest. Displaying a âtwo-birds-with-one stoneâ mentality, cities and states sought to route Inter- state expressways through slum neighborhoods, using federal highway money to reclaim downtown urban real estate. Inner-city slums could be cleared, blacks removed to more distant second-ghetto areas, central business districts redeveloped, and transportation woes solved all at the same timeâand mostly at federal expense (Mohl, 2002, 28). The damage inflicted upon communities in the New York metropolitan region is vividly detailed along with the extraordinary technical engineering accomplishments of this highway building era in the Pulitzer Prizeâwinning, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. The Gowanus Expressway tore through the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brook- lyn, dislocating 100 stores and 1,300 families and draining the areaâs commercial vitality even as it became awash in truck movements. The area became a â. . . place for cars. And as the roadways became more crowded, its sidewalks began to empty.â Along a single-mile stretch of the Cross-Bronx Expressway in the East Tremont section of the Bronx, 1,530 families who were living in 159 buildings were evicted despite seemingly viable routing alternatives (Caro, 1974, 522, 878). Urban neighborhoods throughout the United States were split apart by large scale demoli- tion and displacements, including in Miami (FL), Nashville (TN), Columbia (SC), Birmingham (AL), Camden (NJ), Kansas City (MO), Charlotte (NC), St. Paul (MN), Pittsburgh (PA), Chi- cago (IL), Cleveland (OH), Columbus (OH), Milwaukee (WI), Tampa (FL), Jacksonville (FL), Orlando (FL), Pasadena (CA), and Boston (MA), among other cities. These communities were often predominantly occupied by blacks, but urban highway projects also threatened other eth- nic minorities generally living in low-income neighborhoods (Mohl, 2002, 30â37). In San Francisco, organized opposition to Interstate development took shape in 1959 with a movement to stop the Embarcadero Freeway (I-480), a proposed link between the San Franciscoâ Oakland Bay Bridge (I-80) and the Golden Gate Bridge (U.S. 101). In New Orleans, a successful battle was waged in the mid-1960s by local preservationists who were alarmed at the threat to the French Quarter presented by a 40-foot-high elevated Riverfront Expressway slated to connect to the port district. But far less opposition citywide had been mobilized against Interstate 10âs con- struction, which opened in 1968 and proved devastating to Black businesses and residences along Claiborne Avenue, an area north of the French Quarter (Lewis, 1997, 188â189). Greater citizen activism and public opposition to the urban highway construction program and its destructive social consequences began to emerge in the latter half of the 1960s, leading to new political pres- sures to critically evaluate and reform the relationship between agencies making transportation decisions and the affected public: Until 1968 citizen involvement in highway decision-making was generally limited to a single public hear- ing, required by law but for information purposes only. These public hearings on urban expressways came very early in the process. They generally attracted little notice and light attendance. Years later, when right- of-way acquisition and then construction began, people became outraged that such crucial decisions about their cities and neighborhoods had been made by outsiders with minimum community involvement. They protested the demolition of stable neighborhoods, the destruction of parks and historic districts, damage
Introduction 1-7 to sensitive environmental areas, and the use of riverfronts and waterfronts for automobiles rather than for people (Mohl, 2002, 76). By the mid-1960s, sufficient political pressure pushed the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to mitigate the plight of relocating families displaced by the ambitious highway and urban renewal programs. In the early 1960s, federal highway construction was estimated to be displacing 33,000 families, mostly located in urban centers, from their homes each year. Meanwhile, urban renewal and new public housing projects were annually displacing another 38,000 families. In 1967, the newly established U.S. Department of Transportation foresaw that over 56,000 families and businesses would be displaced annually to complete the urban Interstate program by the early 1970s. By 1969, federal highway construction was estimated to be demolishing over 62,000 hous- ing units annually, potentially affecting as many as 200,000 persons each year (Mohl, 2002, 59). The Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation began to reassess their policies, moving away from the prevailing technocratic engineering ethos that had characterized prior administrations. Some expressway projects were cancelled, while other routes were altered to avoid neighborhood destruction. Looking back at this legacy, it is undeniable that the transportation highway program funda- mentally transformed the American way of life, altering the nationâs landscapes and lifestyles, and reshaping patterns of commercial and residential land development. Transportation systems delivered regional benefits such as mobility to job centers, particularly for those non-minority Americans who were part of the initial waves of families relocating from the cities and who did not face barriers settling in suburban communities. But these regional-connecting transporta- tion systems also imposed burdens to politically marginalized communities that bore the brunt of the adverse public health and safety impacts from the siting of new urban highway alignments. Reflecting upon the lessons of this highway building eraâa period that intersected with ris- ing environmentalism, civil rights, and Vietnam anti-war protestsâthe public and its advocate practitioners came to a deeper appreciation of the impacts of transportation systems on the human environment. Observing the scarring effects of siting highways through urban regions, citizen advocates and community leaders realized the enduring consequences of being kept from the decision-making table. They began to question the priorities and the cited benefits extolled by the governing institutions, including transportation agencies. Communities today continue to bear witness to these past decisionsâhow resources were invested and allocatedâand their cumulative effects upon livability and access to opportunities. Given these consequences, communities today recognize that they cannot afford to be excluded from the siting and design of transport systems and services. The rationale for individual projects as well as the design features of these projects is even more likely to be questioned by the public when that same public is excluded from meaningful participation. Projects have been seriously delayed or stopped in recent years not only due to objections about the proposed design, but because the proposed solutions did not meet the communityâs needs and preferences, which are often broader in scope than the objectives laid out by the transportation agency. Landmark Legislation: Opening Transportation Decision-making Processes Over the past 60 years, landmark legislation like the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1950, which required states to hold public hearings if a federal-aid highway project involved bypassing or going through a city, town, or village and to consider the economic effects of the location, and the federal transit laws originally enacted in 1964, gave new opportunities for interested persons to voice their perspectives in the development of transportation solutions. The Federal Highway
1-8 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Act of 1962 limited the authority of state highway departments by enabling other voices to be heard during the decision-making process on interstate routing. A new â3C Processâ required that state highway departments develop âa cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing urban transportation planning process, including coordination with plans for other modes of trans- portation and for local land development, with greater participation in planning by local govern- ment.â The comprehensive planning process endorsed in the legislation was new in transporta- tion. State highway agencies were expected to get input from local officials and consider mass transit alternatives. The legislation also recognized the need for state highway departments to deliver location assistance to displaced families and businesses, although implementation of this protective remedy for urban communities was delayed until July 1, 1965. The balance of power between the champions of highway building and local opposing inter- ests was also altered through other major federal laws and regulations established between 1966 and 1970. For example, the Section 4(f ) provision of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 established legal protections for publicly-owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and public and private historical sites. The relocation requirements of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 and the subsequent Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, the FHWAâs âtwo-hearingâ regulation in 1968 (i.e., one on highway corridor location and a second on specific design issues), the Freedom of Infor- mation Act of 1966, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Clean Air Act of 1970 were other ground-shifting laws and regulations of this era. Creating new processes for the highway builders to follow, the new legal and regulatory environment provided better access to information for citizen groups and opened new opportunities for litigation for those opposed to new highway development (Mohl, 2002, 93). From this era, other statutes, regulations, executive orders, and agency guidance have fol- lowed, further establishing the legal foundation as well as the rationale for public involvement, social impact assessment, and a commitment to nondiscrimination throughout the transporta- tion decision-making process. A brief synopsis of various legal protections and guidance follows. Environmental Legislation and Policy under the NEPA Umbrella NEPA requires an agency using federal funds to conduct a review of the social, economic, and environmental impacts that a proposed action would have upon the environment. NEPA makes clear the need to analyze these impacts and promotes the use of the social sciences to assess the effects on the human environment. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970 (23 USC 109(h)) reinforced NEPA by defining specific adverse economic, social, and environmental impacts to communities that must be considered in developing any project on any federal-aid system. The act calls for final decisions to be made âin the best overall public interestâ balancing the need for fast, safe, and efficient transportation, public services, and the costs of âeliminat- ing or minimizing such effects as air, noise, and water pollution; destruction or disruption of manmade and natural resources; aesthetic values; community cohesion; the availability of public facilities and services; adverse employment effects; tax and property value losses; injuri- ous displacement of people, businesses, and farms; and disruption of desirable community and regional growth.â Other regulations, guidance, and initiatives have since been developed as part of the NEPA process to further emphasize the importance of identifying and addressing potential impacts on the human environment that may result from transportation projects. Executive Order 11514, âProtection and Enhancement of Environmental Quality,â signed in 1970, requires federal agencies to monitor, evaluate, and control activities to protect and enhance the environment,
Introduction 1-9 and to develop procedures to provide information to the public concerning federal plans and programs with environmental impact. Executive Order 11514 includes a provision for public hearings, requires that the public be apprised of alternative courses of action, and affords inter- ested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed actions. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR 1500â1508). These regulations required federal agen- cies to use all practicable means, consistent with NEPA, to avoid and minimize any possible adverse effects of their actions upon the quality of the human environment and established the environmental documentation process. In 1987, the Federal Highway Administration issued Environmental Impact and Related Procedures (23 CFR 771), which detailed policies and procedures for implementing NEPA and the CEQ regulations, including the need for early and continuing opportunities for the public to be involved in the identification of social, economic, and environmental impacts during proj- ect development (see box titled, âNeed for Early Coordination and Public Involvementâ). The FHWA also issued its Guidance for Preparing and Processing Environmental and Section 4(f ) Documents (TA6640.8A), which emphasized early and continuing coordination with agencies and the public and the exchange of information throughout the environmental review process. NEPA and FHWAâs guidance established several procedural requirements giving opportu- nity for public review and comment to influence decision-making processes, including 1) the identification of the purpose and need for a proposed project or program; 2) an assessment of a projectâs or programâs effects, including its human health, economic, and social effects; 3) con- sideration of alternatives when significant impacts are anticipated; 4) identification of mitigation measures to avoid and minimize significant impacts; and 5) a public process for review of need, impacts, alternatives, and mitigation options (Sanchez and Brenman, 2007, 77). The concept of mitigation, in particular, is critical for ameliorating significant adverse impacts when they are expected. Under CEQ rules for NEPA (40 CFR 1508.20), mitigation includes: â¢â¢ Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action; â¢â¢ Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation; â¢â¢ Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; â¢â¢ Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action; and â¢â¢ Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments. Opponents of specific transportation projects have also found that some courts are recep- tive to challenges of agency decisions that are based on NEPA documents, particularly argu- ments over procedural failings in which agencies did not appear to consider alternatives in good faith, when there is an absence of evidence that research was conducted, or when find- ings were not adequately supported by the research presented. For example, the indirect and cumulative effects analyses have been vulnerable to challenge when they have been inade- quately prepared. âCumulative effectsâ include the total of all impacts to a particular resource that have occurred, are occurring, or will likely occur as a result of any action or influence, including the direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect impacts of a federal activity. Cumula- tive effects can result from actions that are individually minor, but collectively significant over a period of time. Communities, having been burdened by a greater share of locally unwanted facilities or land uses based upon past decisions, may question upcoming transportation deci- sions. Projects have been slowed, altered, and even canceled after the courts have sided with opponents and agencies have been ordered to prepare such sections of the NEPA documents again with greater diligence.
1-10 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking U.S. Civil Rights Laws and Policy Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in the conduct of all federal activities. Section 601 of Title VI states: No 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. Need for Early Coordination and Public Involvement The need for early coordination and public involvement by state transportation agencies is made clear in FHWAâs Regulations for Environmental Impact and Related Procedures: (2) State public involvement/public hearing procedures must provide for: (i) Coordination of public involvement activities and public hearings with the entire NEPA process. (ii) Early and continuing opportunities during project development for the public to be involved in the identification of social, economic, and environ- mental impacts, as well as impacts associated with relocation of individuals, groups, or institutions. (iii) One or more public hearings or the opportunity for hearing(s) to be held by the State highway agency at a convenient time and place for any Federal- aid project which requires significant amounts of right-of-way, substantially changes the layout or functions of connecting roadways or of the facility being improved, has a substantial adverse impact on abutting property, other wise has a significant social, economic, environmental or other effect, or for which the FHWA determines that a public hearing is in the public interest. (iv) Reasonable notice to the public of either a public hearing or the oppor- tunity for a public hearing. Such notice will indicate the availability of explanatory information. The notice shall also provide information required to comply with public involvement requirements of other laws, Executive orders, and regulations. (v) Explanation at the public hearing of the following information, as appropriate: (A) The projectâs purpose, need, and consistency with the goals and objectives of any local urban planning, (B) The projectâs alternatives, and major design features, (C) The social, economic, environmental, and other impacts of the project, (D) The relocation assistance program and the right-of-way acquisition process. (E) The State highway agencyâs procedures for receiving both oral and written statements from the public. (vi) Submission to the FHWA of a transcript of each public hearing and a certi- fication that a required hearing or hearing opportunity was offered. The transcript will be accompanied by copies of all written statements from the public, both submitted at the public hearing or during an announced period after the public hearing. Source: FHWAâs Regulations for Environmental Impact and Related Procedures, 23 CFR Section 771.111 (excerpt).
Introduction 1-11 Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other related legal statutes and non- discrimination authorities, it is the policy of the U.S.DOT that discrimination on the ground of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and age shall not occur in connection with pro- grams or activities receiving financial assistance. The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 sub- sequently clarified the intent of Title VI to include all programs and activities of federal-aid recipients, subrecipients, and contractors, whether those programs and activities are federally funded or not. The focus of Title VI is on both intentional forms of discrimination and disparate impact discriminationâthat is, an adverse effect of a practice or standard that is neutral and nondis- criminatory in its intention but, nonetheless, disproportionately affects individuals having a disability or belonging to a particular group based on their age, ethnicity, race, or sex. The U.S. DOT seeks to ensure compliance with Title VI in all of its programs and activities whether or not those programs and activities are federally funded. Their efforts to prevent discrimination extend to a programâs impact upon access, benefits, participation, treatment, services, contract- ing opportunities, training opportunities, investigation of complaints, allocation of funds, pri- oritization of projects and the functions of planning, project development, design, right-of-way acquisition, construction, and research. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Alexan- der v. Sandoval in 2001, citizens can only petition through the courts for relief from intentional discrimination, but cannot bring a private right of action to enforce disparate impact regulations promulgated under Title VI. In 1994, Executive Order 12898, âFederal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,â directed every federal agency to âmake environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing the effects of all programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.â The executive order reinforced what had been law for more than three decadesâTitle VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Executive Order 12898 essentially reminded all government agencies receiving federal funding that they are required to address discrimination as well as the consequences of all of their decisions or actions that might result in disproportionately high and adverse environmental and health impacts on minority and low-income communities. By its issuance, the executive order called upon federal agencies to examine the treatment of low-income groupsâa population group that was not explicitly referenced in the body of civil rights legislation. Executive Order 12898 was a catalyst for agencies, particularly the U.S.DOT, to assess their policies, programs, and activities. However, an executive order is limited in scope and authority; it is intended to improve the internal management of the executive branch and does not create any right, benefit, or responsibility enforceable by law and does not create any right to judicial review. In 1997, the U.S.DOT issued its Order to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Popu- lations and Low-Income Populations (U.S.DOT Order 5610.2). The U.S.DOT order addressed the requirements of Executive Order 12898 and set forth the U.S.DOTâs policy to promote the principles of environmental justice in all programs, policies, and activities under its jurisdiction. Since the U.S.DOT order was issued, the FHWA and the FTA have been working with their state and local transportation partners to make sure that the principles of environmental justice are integrated into every aspect of their mission. These efforts include âImplementing Title VI Requirements in Metropolitan and Statewide Planning,â a memorandum issued in 1999 that addresses the integration of environmental justice efforts in the planning phase. The essence of effective environmental justice practice has been distilled into three fundamental principles that have been summarized in U.S.DOT and FHWA guidance (see box titled, âFundamental Prin- ciples of Environmental Justiceâ) and embody concerns for processes by which transportation decisions are made, their effects upon communities, and in the equitable distribution of benefits that are allocated through the prioritization and spending of funds.
1-12 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking In 2000, Executive Order 13166, âImproving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,â required recipients of federal financial assistance to develop and implement guidance on how they will provide meaningful access to limited English proficiency (LEP) persons in order to comply with the regulations set forth in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S.DOT issued Policy Guidance Concerning Recipientsâ Responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Persons, in accordance with the executive order, which makes clear that U.S.DOT recipients are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by LEP persons (see box titled, âLEP GuidanceâFour Factorsâ). The guidelines seek to find a balance that ensures mean- ingful access by LEP persons to critical services and pro- grams while not imposing undue burdens on recipients or subrecipients. Reaffirming and extending Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Title II of the ADA provides that âno qualified individual with a dis- ability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by a department, agency, special purpose dis- trict, or other instrumentality of the state or local government.â All public meetings and events need to be held in ADA-accessible facilities. If requested, sign language interpreters and other assistance for visually or hearing impaired individuals can be secured for meetings, and docu- ments can be translated into alternative formats. The rights of the hearing and sight impaired were also addressed in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by fed- eral agencies, in programs receiving federal financial assistance, in federal employment, and in the employment practices of federal contractors. In 1998, the Rehabilitation Act was amended Fundamental Principles of Environmental Justice The essence of effective environmental justice practice, distilled into three funda- mental principles, has been summarized in U.S.DOT and FHWA guidance: â¢ Avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations; â¢ Ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process; and â¢ Prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations. Source: FHWA, An Overview of Transportation and Environmental Justice, May 2000, http:// www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ej2000.htm LEP GuidanceâFour Factors The U.S.DOT guidance outlines four factors that recipients should consider in reviewing how they interact with the public in order to assess language needs and decide what reasonable steps should be taken to ensure meaningful access for LEP persons. 1. the number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encoun- tered by a program, activity, or service of the recipient or grantee; 2. the frequency with which LEP individuals come in contact with the program; 3. the nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the recipient to peopleâs lives; and 4. the resources available to the recipient and costs. Source: U.S.DOT Policy Guidance Concerning Recipientsâ Responsibilities to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Persons, http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/asp/lep.asp
Introduction 1-13 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 of that law established requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government and required federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with dis- abilities, including employees and members of the general public. An accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. Amendments of Section 508 make clear that federal employees with disabilities are entitled to have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Major Transportation Legislation and Supporting Policy Guidance By 1991, the Interstate highway system was close to complete, costing more than $125 bil- lion over 35 years rather than $27.5 billion over 10 years as had been projected back in 1956. Unlike prior rounds of highway reauthorization legislation, the Intermodal Surface Transpor- tation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) recognized that system preservation and maximizing its efficiency would need more attention. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the trenchant critic of prior highway legislation, was instrumental in the passage of this new legislation. ISTEA sought to strengthen planning practices, give metropolitan areas greater control over transpor- tation decisions within their jurisdictions, and improve multi-modal planning. The legislation required integrated planning and recognition of fiscal constraints as well as rejection of project wish-lists whose costs exceeded available funding. It also envisioned a transportation planning process, broader in representation and sustained over time, that would require better coordina- tion between states and metropolitan areas and between the public and private sectors. Trans- portation agencies, elected officials, and practitioners were thus challenged to establish involve- ment processes to engage a broader set of stakeholders, including the public, community groups, businesses, and other governmental agencies. Better and more locally responsive decisions were expected to result from widening the circle of participants. ISTEA also made clear the importance of protecting the human and natural environments as well as of making a greater commitment to accessibility and equity in the provision of trans- portation services. In recognition of the wide-ranging effects of transportation investment deci- sions, ISTEA called for closer consideration of planning factors such as land use as well as the social, economic, energy, and environmental effects of transportation decisions. Public involve- ment processes were recognized as instrumental to adequately considering these impacts. This commitment to public involvement and other collaborative input processes was expected to yield better outcomes that reflected the communityâs mobility and accessibility needs (see box titled, âRaising the Bar for Public Involvement under ISTEAâ). In 1996, the FHWA disseminated Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Reference for Transportation, (CIA Quick Reference) offering this important justification for the guide: In the past, the consequences of transportation investments on communities have often been ignored or introduced near the end of the planning process, reducing them to reactive considerations at best. The goals . . . are to increase awareness of the effects of transportation actions on the human environment and emphasize that community impacts deserve serious attention in project planning and developmentâattention compa- rable to that given the natural environment. . . . [T]his guide is intended to provide some tips for facilitating public involvement in the decision-making process (FHWA, 1996, 2).
1-14 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking The methods and processes for assessing the social and economic impacts of transportation projects under NEPA, according to the CIA Quick Reference, are carried out through the CIA process. The CIA Quick Reference emphasizes the importance of integrating public involvement as part of the planning and project development process. The CIA assessment should identify all items of importance to people, allowing community concerns, such as changes in population, mobility and access, safety, employment effects, displacements, relocation, isolation, quality of life, physical aspects (e.g., barriers, noise, dust), among others issues to be properly considered. Information gathered from public involvement during the CIA process is expected to support: the development of the projectâs purpose and need; the identification, refinement, and selection of alternatives; the investigation of transportation impacts; and the identification of avoidance, minimization, mitigation, and enhancement opportunities. A 1998 national conference, Thinking Beyond the Pavement National Workshop on Integrating Highway Development with Communities and the Environment While Maintaining Safety and Performance, laid the groundwork for experimentation with the principles of Context Sensitive Design (CSD), now more commonly referred to as Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). CSS is a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach for involving all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves and enhances scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and environmental resources, while maintaining or improving safety, mobil- ity, and infrastructure conditions. CSS considers the total context within which a transportation Raising the Bar for Public Involvement under ISTEA The federal government raised the bar for the public involvement process con- ducted by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) when ISTEA regulations required that a formal public involvement processâitself the product of public involvementâbe adopted by the MPO. The FHWA and FTA foresaw several desir- able outcomes from this commitment as seen in A Guide to Metropolitan Trans- portation Planning Under ISTEAâHow the Pieces Fit Together (FHWA/FTA, 1994): â¢ Informed and involved citizens who have access to public records and the decision-making process; â¢ A planning approach that is proactive and open to participation by all; â¢ A process that not only encourages broad public participation but also considers and responds to public input; â¢ Ample opportunity for public comment when the final plan or Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) differs from the draft. In air quality nonattainment areas which are transportation management areas (TMAs), at least one public meeting must be held to review planning assumptions and the plan develop- ment process. At least one meeting must be held during the TIP development process; â¢ MPOs are encouraged to have public involvement in all planning activities. Some elements, such as the provision of timely information and access to information, should be part of the MPOâs routine operations; and â¢ In planning certification reviews, federal agencies would explicitly consider whether adequate public involvement opportunities were provided and they may suggest that the planning partners augment their efforts to increase participation of underserved groups.
Introduction 1-15 improvement project will exist, dealing with âcontextâ as both a constraint and an opportunity. Through better understanding of context, project sponsors are more likely to advance projects in harmony with the community and preserve resources that otherwise might be lost or harmed. The conference empha- sized the importance of local involvement in transportation decisionmaking and good design that is sensitive to the sur- rounding environment. See the box titled âKey Principles of Context Sensitive Solutionsâ for key principles that emerged from the seminal conference report about the qualities of a CSS project that characterize excellence in design and the integral role of involvement processes to yield this excellence. Five states and one federal highway design agency worked to integrate the principles of CSD/CSS into their project design processes after this conference. These states developed training sessions, teaching guides, and manuals related to specific prob- lems. During this period, the FHWA also promoted the use of AASHTO standards to lend flexibility to highway design. This guidance can be found in the 1997 FHWA document, Flexibility in Highway Design. Many states and communities have made a commitment to CSS and documentation of this change in approach and outlook can be found in several publications, links to which can be found at www.contextsensitivesolutions.org. The 1998 Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) (PL 105-178) repeated the ISTEAâs call to balance protection of the natural and human environments and continued the financial commitment to transportation improvements. TEA-21 broadened the notion of âinterested partiesâ to include freight shippers, providers of freight services, and repre- sentatives of public transportation users. The establishment of âenvironmental stewardship and streamliningâ as one of the FHWAâs three âVital Few Goalsâ grew out of this legislation. Objective number one of this goal calls for âintegrated approaches to multimodal planning, the environmental process, and project development at a systems level; and/or Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) at a project level.â Signed into law in 2005, the most recent reauthorization legislation for transportation, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) emphasized improved community quality of life through exercising flexibility in solving transportation problems. The legislation, Section 109(c) (2) US Code, Title 23 was amended in 2005 by Section 6008 to include material that sup- ports CSS procedures in project planning and implementation. This material originated in the Thinking Beyond the Pavement conference already mentioned. Collaborative decision- making and stakeholder engagement that includes communities are embraced as effective processes for striking the right balance between meeting transportation needs and protecting and enhancing the physical and human environments likely to be affected by proposed transportation decisions. No Guarantee That Public Involvement Will Foster Meaningful Involvement Prior sections have described a trend toward opening the transportation decision-making processes to allow for greater participation from the âpublicâ and various interested parties, including greater attention to populations protected under the nationâs civil rights laws and identified in executive orders on environmental justice and on LEP. The landmark statutes, regulations, guidance, and technical assistance resources that have been highlighted affirm the âContext Sensitive Solutions is not a philosophy to be selectively applied to certain categories of projects, but an approach to transportation planning, design, construction and maintenance that is scalable to use on every transportation project.â âTransTech Management, Inc. et al., NCHRP Web-Only Document 69: Performance Measures for Context Sensitive SolutionsâA Guidebook for State DOTs. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2004.
1-16 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking importance of public involvement in legitimate decision-making processes. They do not, how- ever, provide guarantees that meaningful involvement processes will be fostered or implemented by agencies and practitioners. What Is Meaningful Involvement? During the course of this study, interviews were conducted with public involvement practitio- ners from the public and private sectors as well as with select academics and community-based advocacy organizations to elicit their varied perspectives about the âstate of the practiceâ in Key Principles of Context Sensitive Solutions Qualities of a CSS Project That Characterize Excellence in Transportation Design: â¢ It satisfies the purpose and needs as agreed to by a full range of stakeholders and agreement is forged in the earliest phase of the project and amended as warranted as the project develops. â¢ It is a safe facility for both the user and the community. â¢ It is in harmony with the community, and it preserves environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, and natural resource values of the area (i.e., exhibits context sensitive design). â¢ It exceeds the expectations of both designers and stakeholders and achieves a level of excellence in peopleâs minds. â¢ It involves efficient and effective use of resources (time, budget, community) of all involved parties. â¢ It is designed and built with minimal disruption to the community. â¢ It is seen as having added lasting value to the community. Characteristics of the CSS Process That Yield Excellence: â¢ Communication with all stakeholders is open, honest, early, and continuous. â¢ A multidisciplinary team is established early, with disciplines based on the needs of the specific project, and with the inclusion of the public. â¢ A full range of stakeholders is involved with transportation officials in the scoping phase. The purposes of the project are clearly defined, and the consensus on the scope is forged before proceeding. â¢ The highway development process is tailored to meet the circumstances. This process should examine multiple alternatives that will result in a consensus of approach methods. â¢ A commitment to the process from top agency officials and local leaders is secured. â¢ The public involvement process, which includes informal meetings, is tailored to the project. â¢ The landscape, the community, and the valued resources are understood before engineering design is started. A full range of tools for communication about project alternatives is used (e.g., visualization). - Excerpted from âThinking Beyond the Pavement: A National Workshop on Integrating High- way Development with Communities and the Environment,â Maryland, May 1998.
Introduction 1-17 public involvement. Several interviewees sought to make a distinction between âpublic involve- mentâ and âmeaningful involvementâ or âmeaningful participation,â cautioning that the type of activities that they suspected were typical of the âstate of the practiceâ in transportation did not achieve the standard implied by meaningful involvement. Public involvement, as suggested by several interviewees, is often treated as an âeventâ to hold, for example, a public hearing or an informational meeting, rather than a âprocessâ woven into decision-making processes. Transportation agencies were thought more likely to âmanageâ their interactions with the publicâadopt a public relations approach that can place a spin upon informationârather than foster truly collaborative processes as intended through CSS or CIA best practices guidance. Many of those interviewed cautioned that this preference or tendency toward information- sharing or a top-down style of communicating can lead to several troubling practices: unveiling plans and projects too late in the process to influence the definition of the projectâs purpose and need or the development of alternatives; framing outreach narrowly so as to limit sincere consideration of expressed community needs and preferences toward particular alternatives or concerns; confining involvement processes to taking comments at a public hearing; scheduling events at inconvenient times or difficult-to-reach locations for segments of the affected com- munity; and narrowly defining âsuccessâ as securing the âbuy-inâ from local elected officials whether or not there is support from locally affected communities. Some interviewees com- mented on the importance of additional technical training as well as professional challenges for the practitionerâfor example, the community impact analyst, the public involvement special- ist, and the project managerâworking to reform or overcome these preferences or tendencies within a large-scale transportation organization. Meaningful involvement, in contrast, recognizes the essential importance of getting people participating in their government. Fostering meaningful involvement requires finding strate- gies to overcome potential cynicism or mistrust, and facilitating opportunities for informed participation to influence decisions taken by government that will affect individuals and their communities. The transportation industry could benefit from the principles, observations, innovations, and practices communicated in the wider field of public involvementâideas advocated by associa- tions and networks of professionals dedicated to professional training and skills development in public involvement. The current body of transportation literature on public involvement and decisionmaking is largely silent on the skills and expertise needed by individuals responsible for managing the design and implementation of public involvement efforts, or what type of professional development and training is warranted for agency staff involved in these activi- ties. For example, there is little mention of the existing professional organizations, such as the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), the International Association of Public Partici- pation (IAP2), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and the U.S. Institute for Envi- ronmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) that focus on democratic decision-making processes, outreach, and information strategies and that can offer valuable guidance for transportation agencies and practitioners. In its development of âCore Values for Public Participation,â the IAP2 outlines a system that is intent upon fostering meaningful participation (see text box titled âCore Values for Pub- lic Participationâ). These âcore valuesâ embrace a high standard of engagement with poten- tially affected partiesâinformed by periodic self-assessments of effectivenessâthat demands a disciplined commitment from the agency and the practitioner greater than warranted when duties are confined to a lower standard of public information dissemination. The core values, according to the IAP2, are expected to help lead to better decisions that reflect the interests
1-18 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking and concerns of potentially affected people and entities and cut across national, cultural, and religious differences. Barriers to Achieving Meaningful Involvement At the institutional level, transportation organizations, particularly state departments of trans- portation that have been historically focused on highway development, can present formidable barriers to the achievement of meaningful involvement. Leadership has traditionally come from the engineering profession in which training and culture is focused on the technical solutionâ the solution that makes the most sense from an engineering perspective. Although not as typi- cal today, engineering curricula at colleges and universities historically focused exclusively on engineering and related technical education. One of our interviewees, an engineer who served as a project manager for a state highway agencyâsomeone who had made a huge commitment to public involvement for a major highway widening projectâcharacterized the prevailing ethos and culture of their transportation organization heading into the project: âweâre the engineers and we know better than you do.â This outlook can be inflexible or dismissive in the face of chal- lenges posed by resource agencies, members of the public, and advocacy or community groups that would question a project in terms of problem identification, purpose and need, or the range of alternatives or solutions that should also be under consideration. For some agency managers and leaders, the fear of losing control of a projectâs agenda, schedule, or cost, or the perhaps pre- determined approach, is genuine. There may be a reluctance to commit time, money, or staffing to more collaborative approaches if these would create uncertainty about the outcomes. The leadership within transportation agencies can exert organizational pressures on project managers and practitioners to stay firm to predetermined or preferred types of solutions. Imposing budgetary or staffing constraints in carrying out the public involvement program presents another form of constraint and control over the permissible scope of the decision-making processes. The agency and its assigned project manager and public involvement practitioners set forward the strategies and agenda, the very ground rules and basis for interactions between the agency Core Values for Public Participation The IAP2 has developed its âcore values for public participationâ to foster mean- ingful participation. The IAP2 holds that public participation: â¢ Is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. â¢ Includes the promise that the publicâs contribution will influence the decision. â¢ Promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers. â¢ Seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision. â¢ Seeks input from participants in designing how they participate. â¢ Provides participants with the information that they need to participate in a meaningful way. â¢ Communicates to participants how their input affected the decision. - International Association of Public Participation, http://www.iap2.org/
Introduction 1-19 and the public. Cultural differences and an imbalance in political power can affect the nature of the exchange between the agency and the lay public. This distance or gap can be further aggravated when the public involvement practitioner or project manager lacks adequate skills or expertise in public involvement to pursue strategies to promote meaningful participation. Inadequate training of project managers and practitioners responsible for public involvement can be a critical barrier to fostering meaningful participation. However, a core project management team fortified by trained public involvement profes- sionals and community impact practitioners can make a valuable contribution to establishing and implementing credible processes. For example, no matter how welcoming or interesting an agency may make a meeting, not everyone can or wishes to attend such events. This type of team recognizes when conditions, controversy, or community preferences warrant that typical processes need be changed or adapted to reach affected communities. The individual project manager and the public involvement practitioner can critically influ- ence an agencyâs ability to commit to achieving meaningful involvement. Different professional orientations and levels of training present one sort of barrier to achieving meaningful participa- tion, but there are other cultural differences that can divide the agency practitioner from the diverse public possibly affected by transportation plans, projects, and operations. Even good- faith attempts at achieving meaningful participation can be subverted by a failure to appreciate these cultural differences. What is meant by âcultureâ? Culture has many definitions, but it generally refers to a group or community that shares a set of beliefs, traditions, language, values, customs, rituals, manners of interacting, forms of communication, expectations for behaviors, roles and relationships, and common experiences that influence how they understand the world and environment. These elements define how things are supposed to beâwhat may be referred to as the ânormsââand which are unconsciously accepted by those within the culture. Culture includes groups that are defined by race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or class as well as groups that people may join or become affiliated with by choice or through circumstance such as religion, immigra- tion status, age, or disability, among others. Each individual belongs to several cultures. Beyond oneâs own peculiar family and genetic inheritance, culture helps shape a personâs identity and experiences and influences how one observes the world and communicates with others. In fact, each of the cultures with which a person is affiliated has a unique historical expe- rience to relate back to the individual and to others, including a history of relationships and interactions with other groups within the world and within society. Knowledge of this cultural history can help people better understand themselves and others and can improve the capacity to engage in effective cross-cultural communications. Recognizing the significance of cultural differences is invaluable but does not mean that com- munication will be free of the types of misunderstandings that may undermine the ability to interact effectively with other cultures. Difficulties in cross-cultural communications can stem from several types of cultural differences. Six fundamental patterns of cultural differences (see box titled, âSix Fundamental Patterns of Cultural Differencesâ) have been posited as factors that can interfere with successful interactions, and include communication styles, attitudes toward conflict, approaches to completing tasks, decision-making styles, attitudes toward disclosure, and approaches to knowing (DuPraw and Axner, 1997, 2â4). Cultural Competency to Bridge the Social and Cultural Gaps Nowhere is the need for commitment to overcome barriers more evident than in the activities, manners, and preparedness with which practitioners seek to âbridge the gapâ between them- selves and the âtraditionally underserved populations,â oftentimes peoples and cultures with
1-20 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking Six Fundamental Patterns of Cultural Differences Six fundamental patterns of cultural differences can impede effective cross-cultural communications according to DuPraw and Axnerâs âWorking on Common Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges,â excerpted and paraphrased below. Recognizing these differences is an important step toward respecting different cultures and honing the skills and temperament for handling potential conflicts effectively. However, particular individuals or groups may not exhibit the patterns or match the generalizations ascribed to the culture with which the practitioner has identified them. Groups that are âlumped togetherâ such as âAsianâ or âLatin Americanâ or âAfricanâ also do not readily conform to generalizations. Leverag- ing the capacity of organizations and persons who are already familiar with a spe- cific culture, however, is an effective means for bridging cultural differences. 1. Different Communication StylesâDifferent cultures attach different shades of meaning to words and phrases. For example, even in countries that share the English language, the meaning of âyesâ varies from âmaybe, Iâll consider itâ to âdefinitely soâ with many shades in between. Non-verbal communications is another major aspect of communication style, which varies across cultures. Facial expressions and gestures may come to mind, but it also involves seating arrange- ments, personal distance, and sense of time. Different norms regarding the appropriate degree of assertiveness in communicating can add to cultural misun- derstandings. For instance, some white Americans consider raised voices to be a sign that a fight has begun, while some black, Jewish and Italian Americans feel that an increase in volume is a sign of an exciting conversation among friends. Thus, some white Americans may react with greater alarm to a loud discussion than would members of some American ethnic or non-white racial groups. 2. Different Attitudes Toward ConflictâSome cultures view conflict more posi- tively than others. In the U.S., conflict is not usually desirable, but people often are encouraged to deal directly with conflicts that do arise. In fact, face- to-face meetings customarily are recommended as the way to work through whatever problems exist. In contrast, open conflict is experienced as embar- rassing or demeaning in many East Asian countries. As a rule, differences are best worked out quietly; a written exchange might be the favored means to address the conflict. 3. Different Approaches to Completing TasksâFrom culture to culture, there are different ways that people move toward completing tasks influenced, in part, by their access to resources, perceived rewards from task comple- tion, their notions of time, and how relationship-building and task-oriented work should go together. When it comes to working together on a task, cultures differ with respect to the importance placed on establishing relation- ships early in the collaboration. For example, Asian and Hispanic cultures, it has been argued, may attach more value to developing relationships at the beginning of a shared project, placing more emphasis on task completion toward the end than European-Americans. European-Americans tend to focus immediately on the task at hand, and let relationships develop as they work on the task. This does not mean that people from any one of these cultural backgrounds are more or less committed to accomplishing the task or value relationships more or less; it means they may pursue them differently.
Introduction 1-21 whom neither the agency nor the practitioner may have real familiarity. Ideally, the effective practitioner will consider social and cultural gaps and how those may be overcome to foster meaningful participation to inform transportation decisionmaking. The ability to work effectively across cultures requires skills and knowledge, which can broadly be defined as âcultural competency.â For the individual, cultural competency is an approach committed to lifelong learning, communicating, and respectfully working with people different from themselves. This means achieving a better understanding of the individual within cultural groups that are currently served or that could be better served by an agency or service. Knowledge and respect for the history, culture, traditions, customs, language or dialect, val- ues, religious or spiritual beliefs, art, music, learning styles, and practices of individuals can lay the foundation for making meaningful connections with other cultural groups. This knowledge acquisition can make it possible to better understand members of a particular community and how they interpret their world. Respecting and learning about other cultures can often promote a focus on the positive characteristics and strengths of a community and the individuals who 4. Different Decision-Making StylesâThe roles individuals play in decision-making vary widely from culture to culture. For example, in the U.S., decisions are frequently delegatedâthat is, an official assigns responsibility for a particu- lar matter to a subordinate. In many Southern European and Latin American countries, there is a strong value placed on holding decision-making responsi- bilities oneself. When decisions are made by groups of people, majority rule is a common approach in the U.S.; in Japan consensus is the preferred mode. An individualâs expectations about his/her own role in shaping a decision may be influenced by his/her cultural frame of reference. 5. Different Attitudes Toward DisclosureâIn some cultures, it is inappropriate to be frank about emotions, about the reasons behind a conflict or a mis- understanding, or about personal information. When dealing with a conflict, be mindful that people may differ in what they are prepared to reveal. Ques- tions that may seem natural to youâWhat was the conflict about? What was your role in the conflict? What was the sequence of events?âmay seem intru- sive to others. As cultures may hold different attitudes toward disclosure, the practitioner should take pause before characterizing the views, experiences, and goals of the people with whom they are working. 6. Different Approaches to KnowingâCultural groups differ when it comes to the ways people come to know things. European cultures tend to consider information acquired through cognitive means, such as counting and measur- ing, more valid than other ways of coming to know things. This differs from African culturesâ preference for affective ways of knowing, including symbolic imagery and rhythm. Asian cultures may tend to emphasize the validity of knowledge gained through striving toward transcendence. Our diverse society is paying increasing attention to previously overlooked ways of knowing. Different approaches to knowing could affect ways of analyzing a community problem or finding ways to resolve it. Some members of a group may want to do library research to understand a shared problem better and to identify possible solutions. Others may prefer to visit places and people who have experienced similar challenges to get a feeling for what has worked elsewhere.
1-22 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking reside within it (Okun et al., 1999). It may also lead to an appreciation of cultural differences that is less judgmental, bringing about greater self-awareness of the assumptions, biases, and values in oneâs own background. In this increasingly diverse society, the persistent fact of cultural differences suggests that committed practitioners should be inclined toward self-reflection and, more specifically, toward the need to develop an awareness of other cultures as part of their professional development. For example, the practitioner should consider how their professional statusâtheir easy familiarity with transportation concepts, as well as their appearance and behaviorâmay affect how seg- ments of the public respond to a particular event or involvement processes. This type of self-reflection is far from an academic exercise; it relates directly to the best tactics to implement in order to bridge cultural gaps that may be encountered: How can a practitioner run a meeting that actively engages attendees and channels their input into something other than meeting minutes? What will work best to educate and inform citizens about transporta- tion so that they will have the ability to participate in decisionmaking? Where in the agency or elsewhere can a practitioner find persons or community organizations already knowledgeable of this community, this culture, and this language to ensure that the parties can understand and communicate effectively with each other? There are many important lessons to learn and strategies to devise. For example, the practice of translating materials into multiple languages may be effective in advertising an event, but if the transportation jargon, or âtransportationese,â used in English materials is translated without any interpretation, it may prove less than helpful for meaningfully engaging non-English speak- ers. Attention should be paid to the fact that terms in English, while they can be translated into another language, may not exist as institutions, situations, or commodities in other cultures. Stakeholders attending public events may have a history of contact with government and spe- cific attitudes toward authority. Thus, stakeholders, as well as the practitioners, will be bringing their cultural baggage with them to events. The past treatment of stakeholders by any governing agencies, including agencies not remotely engaged with the subject or event topic, will likely color how the event actually proceeds and the degree of trust or suspicion that will be commu- nicated by attendees. The prepared and mindful practitioner, aware of this history, will need to summon the professional temperament to hear dispassionately whatever messages are delivered from the public even if those comments are intended to cause discomfort. The practitioner that understands this history and can remain tactful, or that can exhibit respect and knowledge of the encountered cultures or norms, is better able to bridge potential social and cultural gaps and deflect barbed comments reflecting distrust. Cross-cultural communications that can âbridge the gapâ can be of particular challenge to the individual practitioner. Some basic principles and approaches for fostering trust are listed in the text box titled, âBridging the GapâFinding Effec- tive Approaches for Cross-Cultural Communications.â For agencies, cultural competency requires the establishment of policies and practices that will make its programs, plans, and activities more accessible to diverse populations, providing appropriate and effective services in cross-cultural situations. Leadership and management, no less than the individual practitioner, have duties and responsibilities to create an inclusive, tol- erant organization. They should be prepared to make reforms and undertake new initiatives to better adapt their organizationâs dominant culture and practices to new demographic realities. Cultural competency is intertwined with the goals of recognizing LEP persons, Title VI, and environmental justice in its mission to ensure that an agencyâs programs, plans, and activi- ties are fully accessible to its diverse customers and are not discriminatingâintentionally or unintentionallyâin the delivery of services. It is comprehensive in its scope, touching all of the transportation organizationâs programs, plans and activitiesâeach of which is expected to be
Introduction 1-23 the subject of periodic self-assessment with the intention of fostering improvement where per- formance fails to align with the promises extended by law. Concluding Observations: State of the Practice Review/Need for Guidebook Some concluding observations about the state of the practice that have not yet been high- lighted were synthesized by the study team based upon professional experience, literature review, and interviews with transportation and public involvement practitioners, academics, Bridging the GapâFinding Effective Approaches for Cross-Cultural Communications Finding an effective approach and outlook for improving cross-cultural commu- nications is essential for the practitioner. Below are some suggestions, excerpted and paraphrased from DuPraw and Axnerâs âWorking on Common Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges,â and distilled from interviews and other readings. â¢ Learn from generalizations about other cultures, but avoid stereotyping or oversimplifying your ideas about other persons or groups or what you will encounter in a community. Have the capacity to reconsider or change beliefs and behaviors that are counterproductive. We have several cultures that distinctively define us as individuals and our communities include layers of overlapping cultures. â¢ Practice your craft because it is in the doing that we actually get better at cross-cultural communication. Recognize that cultural beliefs and behaviors offer invaluable sources of data and feedback. â¢ Question your assumptions about the âright wayâ to communicate. Think about your body language; recognize that postures that indicate receptivity in one culture might indicate aggressiveness in another. â¢ Breakdowns in communication do not always occur because other people are on the wrong track. Search for ways to make the communication work, rather than searching for parties to blame for the breakdown. â¢ Listen actively and empathetically. Try to put yourself in the other personâs shoes. Especially when another personâs perceptions or ideas are very different from your own, you might need to operate at the edge of your own comfort zone. â¢ Respect othersâ choices about whether to engage in communication with you. Honor their opinions about what is going on. â¢ Suspend judgment and try to look at the situation as an outsider. â¢ Be prepared for a discussion of the past. Acknowledge historical events that have taken place. Be open to learning more about them. Honest acknowledg- ment of the mistreatment and oppression that may have taken place on the basis of cultural difference is vital for effective communication. â¢ Awareness of current power imbalances and being open to hearing each otherâs perceptions of those imbalances is also necessary for understanding each other and working together. â¢ Cultural norms may not apply to the behavior of any particular individual.
1-24 practical approaches for Involving traditionally Underserved populations in transportation Decisionmaking and individuals from advocacy organizations. They are mentioned here to further explain the rationale for this guidebook and the scope of topics covered. â¢â¢ Only a small segment of the practitioner and academic communities are currently giving attention to the needs and strategies for reaching out to traditionally underserved popula- tions typically during the statewide and metropolitan planning and project development processes in transportation. Certain segments of the population are not being seriously engaged or taken into account as transportation projects are planned and built around them. Environmental justice concerns, as well as concerns for good planning practices, have begun to nudge some transportation agencies toward looking more closely at how to reach out to historically disadvantaged communities and achieve a standard of meaningful involvement. â¢â¢ Public involvement resources frequently do not recognize that involving traditionally under- served populations may require different approaches in different circumstances. Those that do address the issue head-on primarily outline goals and objectives and emphasize the impor- tance of involving traditionally underserved populations without offering specific tools, tech- niques, and information that would improve the practitionersâ capacity to effectively reach diverse communities. â¢â¢ The fact that a given involvement approach will have varying outcomes from community to community is best addressed in project-specific outreach plans. The advantage that these plans have is that they are tailored to the communities where the public outreach is being conducted. â¢â¢ Public involvement guidance in the current literature tends to overlook the community impact discipline or the nuances of identifying and understanding the social and demo- graphic characteristics of a community before selecting public involvement tools and tech- niques. While some reviewed documents did address specific social and cultural differences in populations, only rarely were they likely to give context or depth to the consideration of how the affected communitiesâ heterogeneity or homogeneity may have evolved over time, and the significance of that history. â¢â¢ There are key differences within communities and social groups that must be understood and for which a âone-size-fits-allâ mentality will be ineffective. Agency practitioners need to gain a better understanding of the communities that they are trying to engage before com- mitting resources to public involvement approaches and a public involvement plan. Once resources are committed, emphasis must also be given to the need for continued monitoring of their effectiveness with the message that organizations and individuals be flexible and pre- pared to respond to feedback or problems with further adjustments. â¢â¢ There are three main steps in involving traditionally underserved populations that are not routinely recognized: (1) identify and locate underserved populations; (2) foster par- ticipation by underserved populations; and (3) create opportunities for meaningful public involvement. These three steps are interrelated and equally important for effectively engaging traditionally underserved populations; however, the emphasis in the existing practice appears to be on outreach strategies to promote attendance at events. Less consideration is given to how underserved populations are identified or to developing effective mechanisms by which participation can influence outcomesâthat is, to establishing opportunities to create mean- ingful public involvement. â¢â¢ Few public involvement documents in transportation look for insights outside the field of transportation where organizations and professions are also challenged to achieve âcultural competencyâ in their practices such as in health care, social services, and education, among others. Public involvement, as it is practiced within transportation, suffers from this insular- ity, perpetuating a gap in existing tools and techniques for involving traditionally underserved populations.
Introduction 1-25 â¢â¢ The range of practical approaches for involving the traditionally underserved populations in transportation decisionmaking is extensive, extending into areas of leadership and man- agement on how to better adapt the dominant culture and practices of an organization to the implications of changing demographics. The literature on Title VI, âLEP,â and âcultural competencyâ all suggest that a governing organizationâs internal systems, values, and typical practices should be the subject of periodic self-assessments. In transportation, strategies for improvement should be fostered (e.g., diversity in hiring practices, professional development and training, cultural awareness training, identification of language speakers/translators, estab- lishment of internships, mentoring programs, youth career training, minority vendor educa- tion, and rigorous enforcement of set-aside programs and reporting). It is recommended that this self-assessment extend into the priorities for resource allocation and the decision-making processes undertaken to support various agency programs, work activities, and research efforts. The scope of such an assessment should reflect upon the range and effectiveness of initiatives embraced by the agency, including: the agencyâs willingness to partner with community-based or academic and applied research organizations to examine the needs of individual ethnic com- munities through workshops or market research; the efforts to diversify the social composi- tion of boards and technical committees that are regularly formed; the extent to which public involvement processes will explore community needs to define locally feasible alternatives; the types of mitigation or environmental performance commitments that are made; and the types and size of construction packages available to solicit minority or small business contracting, among other issues. â¢â¢ A toolkit that guides and leads but does not prescribe processes is necessary to promote effective processes for involving traditionally underserved populations toward a standard of meaningful involvement. With sufficient research, information on public involvement and other practical approaches for engaging diverse populations in a range of settings can be found in the existing literature and through discussions with practitioners. How ready most practitioners may be to locate these tools or choose to implement them remains the core chal- lenge. Thorough consideration is needed for the types of training, work experience, and life situations that best prepare the practitioner for effectively engaging traditionally underserved populations toward a standard of meaningful involvement. There is a continued need for tools and techniques that can be tailored to help practitioners identify and effectively involve the full range of constituents at all stages of decisionmaking.