AASHTO Provides USDOT with Transportation Equity Data Insight

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials submitted a 32-page letter on July 22 to the U.S. Department of Transportation containing advice for the agency as to how it can best collect transportation equity data. That letter came in response to a USDOT “Request for Information” issued in May.

[Above photo by the Oregon DOT]

An important theme stressed by AASHTO in its letter is that – given the diversity of populations, norms, and expectations throughout the states and the country as a whole – “one size does not fit all.”

This includes “the many different federal agencies” that will be involved if USDOT adopts any “new or expanded transportation equity data collection program, tool, methodology development, or analytical methodology.”

AASHTO noted that, in general, to determine how well USDOT programs are affecting the safety and security of underserved people, “we first have to make sure we are collecting data in those areas that will help state departments of transportation make that determination.”

Armed with the correct data, AASHTO said state DOTs can then see what type of impact they are having.

“Organizations with limited resources can partner with state DOTs or other planning organizations to identify opportunities that support planning in underserved communities,” AASHTO added.

The group noted in its letter that there is an “existing body of knowledge and research” related to transportation accessibility that can be used to measure access to opportunities – such as jobs, schools, healthcare, etc. – and the impact that changes to the land use system and/or the transportation system has on access to opportunities.

The first resource is the “Transport Access Manual: A Guide for Measuring Connection Between People and Places,” which serves as a guide for understanding how to measure the performance of transport and land use configurations. The second resource is the “National Accessibility Evaluation Pooled-Fund Study,” led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is constructing a “measurement of accessibility” to jobs across the entire country.

“Transportation projects are undertaken to provide connectivity — the ability for people or things to physically travel — between locations, or to lower travel times where connectivity already exists,” AASHTO noted. “As long-term infrastructure investments, transportation systems are not built to satisfy individual trips at specific times, but rather to provide capacity that can be used to satisfy a huge variety of potential trips over the system’s lifetime. Accessibility metrics directly reflect this potential by combining network travel times with the locations and value of the many origins and destinations served by a multimodal transportation system.”

AASHTO also expressed in its letter support for establishing a task force with state DOT representation to “provide recommendations to address current and future needs of the transportation workforce, factors and barriers influencing and attracting individuals—including those from underserved communities.”

Video Highlights Michigan DOT Diversity Recruitment Program

The Michigan Department of Transportation recently put together a video reviewing the benefits of its Transportation Diversity Recruitment Program or TDRP, which the agency is using to “educate and inspire” the next generation of transportation professionals.

[Above photo by the Michigan DOT]

“This program, its structure, the fact that it’s been around for eight years and it’s only getting bigger and better, is really incredible,” noted Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II (D) (seen above) in a statement. “As someone who’s benefited from having just thoughtful and conscientious mentors who helped to make me successful, that’s what we want for every young person who’s looking to pursue careers in whatever field.”

The Michigan DOT said it has been working with students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and colleges throughout Michigan to offer valuable on-the-job training and job shadowing to undergraduate students pursuing degrees in engineering or other transportation-related careers.
The TDRP began with four students eight years ago and has grown to include 59 students this season. The Michigan DOT said this 10-week program allows students to work alongside other on-the-job training program participants, internal staff and external professionals who provide engineering, technical, inspection, and project management services for state road and bridge projects.

The agency also recently created a new executive-level position to help the agency incorporate equity and inclusion in all aspects of its business.

The Michigan DOT’s new position of chief culture, equity, and inclusion officer or CCEIO oversees areas within the Bureau of Transportation Planning, the Office of Organizational Development, the Office of Business Development, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, and the Office of Economic Development.

The agency noted that it designed this new CCEIO position to help it make “meaningful progress” optimizing its organizational culture, aligning equity and inclusion goals with business outcomes while responding to changes or policies that affect employee and customer populations.

Environmental News Highlights – August 4, 2021

A roundup of headlines curated for state transportation environmental professionals


Senate Moves $1.2T Infrastructure Package Forward – AASHTO Journal

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg On Wins, Losses, Future Of Infrastructure Deal – NPR’s All Things Considered

A Look at What the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Would Do – New York Times

Macroeconomic Consequences of the Infrastructure and Budget Reconciliation Plans – Moody’s Analytics (link to PDF)


Boston transportation leaders speak on sharing spaces, investing in communities post-COVID – Boston Herald

Public Transportation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it shapes transit’s future – Community Transportation Association of America (link to PDF)



North Dakota uniquely positioned for emerging carbon capture infrastructure revolution KXMA/KXMB/KXMC/KXMD-TV

LaGuardia Airport Terminal First In The World To Achieve LEED v4 Gold Status – Environment and Energy Leader



Hybrid Pioneer Toyota Pushes Congress To Slow Down Transition To Electric Cars – Forbes

EVs Growing in Rural Calif. Thanks to Local Partnership – Government Technology


Building the future by recruiting a diverse workforce, developing talent – Michigan DOT’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast

What It Looks Like to Reconnect Black Communities Torn Apart by Highways – CityLab


Sound Transit teams with regional agencies for ‘Trees for Rail’ – Progressive Railroading

Keep It Clean, UtahUtah DOT

Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals – AP



More Art, Fewer Accidents? – The Philadelphia Citizen

National parks are so crowded that Congress is getting involved – Bloomberg


Study Examines Links between Commuting, Air Pollution – AASHTO Journal

MnDOT, Tourism Center asking for input on teleworking project – Minnesota DOT

Moovit Integrates Lime Electric Scooters, Bikes, Mopeds Into Transit Planning App – TechCrunch

Senate’s E-BIKE Act could make electric bikes a lot cheaper – The Verge

Midland City Council approves updated U.S. bike route plan – Midland Daily News


Racial Equity Addendum to Critical Issues in Transportation – TRB

Transporting New Energy Options Safely is Key for U.S. Economy – TRB

TRB Webinar: Road Passages and Barriers for Small Terrestrial WildlifeTRB

TRB Webinar: Roadsides as Transportation Assets – Georgia Case Study – TRB


Port Access Route Study: The Pacific Coast From Washington to California – Coast Guard (Notification of study; request for comments)

National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; Monitoring Requirements for Use of Dispersants and Other ChemicalsEPA (Final rule)

Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (Renewal) – EPA (Notice)

Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit – EPA (Notice; request for public comment)

Membership in the National Parks Overflights Advisory GroupFAA (Solicitation of applications)
Public Meeting/Notice of Availability for Proposed Air Tour Management Plans at Mount Rainier National Park; Death Valley National Park; Everglades National Park; and Olympic National ParkFAA (Public meeting/notice)

Notice of Availability of a Final General Conformity Determination for the California High-Speed Rail System, Bakersfield to Palmdale Section – FRA (Notice)

Notice of Matching Fund Opportunity for Ocean and Coastal Mapping and Request for Partnership Proposals – NOAA (Announcement of matching fund program opportunity, request for proposals, and request for interest by October 29, 2021)

Commercial Leasing for Wind Power Development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Offshore Morro Bay, California, East and West Extensions – Call for Information and Nominations Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project Offshore North Carolina – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice; request for comments)