Plan Focuses on Socio-Economic Impacts on Social Groups
Environmental Justice Populations
OKI has defined and considered five social groups in its planning process. They are elderly, minority population, people with disabilities, population in poverty, and zero car households.
The EJ populations are defined as:
- Elderly: Persons aged 65 or older
- Minority population: Persons from every racial category except White Alone plus all Hispanic persons
- People with Disabilities: Non-institutionalized persons aged 18 to 64 years with any disability
- Population in Poverty: Persons below the poverty level
- Zero Car Households: Occupied housing units for which no car is available
In accordance with federal and state Environmental Justice (EJ) guidelines, two of these groups, minority population and population in poverty, were further evaluated for the impacts from the recommended transportation projects. Concentrations of minority populations and populations in poverty were identified by establishing thresholds equal to the regional averages of those populations, according to the Five Year American Community Survey 2013 to 2017 data. OKI classified geographic areas both equaling or exceeding the threshold values and having a numerical incidence of more than 250. Block groups or tracts are the basis for the geographic areas.
Environmental Justice Evaluation in the Project Prioritization Process
Environmental Justice (EJ) is one of seven factors that are applied to all projects in OKI Project Prioritization Process. The Environmental Justice factor awards the maximum 5 points to projects in an EJ area that have a positive impact on the local community, such as a shared use path and new transit service. Other projects that are within EJ areas, but have no impact, received 3 points. Examples of project types that have no or little impact include access management and adding turn lanes. Projects outside EJ areas which benefit all populations also received 3 points. Projects in EJ areas with a potential for relocations or negative impact on property in EJ areas received 0 points. Projects receiving 0 points include roadway widening, roadway relocation or new routes. Potential elements that could be affected by transportation projects include, but are not limited to, travel times, division of neighborhoods, and changes in noise and/or air pollution levels.
Impact on Travel Time for Populations in Poverty
OKI used a variety of quantitative performance measures and qualitative evaluations to assess whether plan projects had any adverse or disproportionate impacts on the target populations, as well as to determine whether benefits were equitably distributed. For the quantitative measures, three scenarios were prepared for the OKI Travel Demand Model:
- 2020 existing year
- 2050 No Plan – 2050 conditions in the absence of the plan with only projects committed in the TIP
- 2050 Base – 2050 conditions with the recommended projects in the plan
Results of the model runs found that average travel times to job hubs will increase for all populations between 2020 and 2050. However, travel time to job hubs for populations in poverty will decrease in that time. When comparing the results of no plan versus the recommended plan in 2050, travel time will decrease for both all populations and populations in poverty.
Regarding travel to shopping and travel to school, the results of the impact assessment found that average travel time will increase between 2020 and 2050. When compared with no plan, the recommended plan will decrease average travel times for both all populations and populations in poverty. This was not the case with average travel time to a university. The recommended plan will not improve travel times for all populations or poverty populations.
Evaluation of Transportation Investment in Environmental Justice Areas
OKI evaluated projects that are within or adjacent to Environmental Justice areas. More than $7 billion, nearly 77 percent of total recommended expenditures, are within EJ communities. This represents about 55 percent of all recommended projects. View the list of Environmental Justice project types (PDF). A breakdown of these recommended projects in EJ areas show that:
Transit Improvement Projects
Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvement Projects
Roadway Capacity Improvement Projects
The transit recommendations in this plan include new passenger facilities, high frequency bus service in high priority transit corridors, creation of additional bus transfer hubs and Park & Ride facilities, and the extension of streetcar service to Northern Kentucky.
This plan successfully improves accessibility of residents of EJ communities to other parts of the region. Public transit improvements through better service, provide enhancements to the overall accessibility to jobs, healthcare, shopping and higher education.
OKI quantitatively and qualitatively finds no adverse or disproportionate impacts on the target populations. The benefits from the implementation of this 2050 Plan appear to be equitably distributed. There is no evidence that any one group of citizens is over or under served. Transit supply and service clearly favor the urbanized areas, where density of employment and population make bus service more efficient. Throughout the region, EJ communities appear to be well served.
Another measure of equity may be the number of families and businesses displaced during the implementation of transportation projects. OKI supports projects that minimize the impacts on all segments of the population, and encourages appropriate mitigation measures when such impacts are unavoidable.
Care must be taken to avoid not only displacement, but also the damage to neighborhood social fabric that can be caused when implementing transportation projects. Erecting physical and psychological barriers, whether intended or not, can destroy the cohesiveness of communities. OKI supports projects that minimize the impacts on a neighborhood’s quality of life. Appropriate mitigation measures should be part of the project when such impacts are unavoidable.