Plan Focuses on Socio-Economic Impacts on Social Groups


Environmental Justice Populations

OKI has defined and considers 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.

There are other methods to identify disadvantaged areas; and one way is to use the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. This tool has an interactive map and uses datasets that are indicators of burdens in eight categories: climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development. The tool uses this information to identify communities that are experiencing these burdens. These are the communities that are disadvantaged because they are overburdened and underserved.

Federal agencies will use the tool to help identify disadvantaged communities that will benefit from programs within the Justice40 Initiative. This initiative seeks to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of investments in climate, clean energy and related areas to disadvantaged communities.

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 system with 2020 travel conditions
  • 2050 E+C – 2050 Existing conditions (E) plus projects committed (C) in the TIP
  • 2050 Plan – 2050 conditions with the recommended projects in the TIP and 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 low-income populations will decrease in that time. When comparing the results of 2050 E+C versus the recommended 2050 Plan, travel time will decrease for both all populations and low-income populations.

    Regarding travel to shopping, the results of the impact assessment found that average travel time will increase between 2020 and 2050. When compared with 2050 E+C, the recommended 2050 Plan will decrease average travel times for all populations but increase average travel time for populations in poverty.

    For average travel times to school, travel times will increase for all populations and for low-income populations. The recommended 2050 Plan will slightly reduce average travel times for both populations when compared to the 2050 E+C. This was not the case with average travel time to a university. The recommended 2050 Plan will not improve travel times for all populations or low-income populations.

    Evaluation of Transportation Investment in Environmental Justice Areas

    OKI evaluated projects that are within or adjacent to EJ areas. More than $4 billion, nearly 70% of total recommended expenditures, are within EJ communities. This represents about 69% of all recommended projects. View the list of Environmental Justice project types (.xlxs). A breakdown of these recommended projects in EJ areas show that:

    Transit Improvement Projects

    Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvement Projects

    Roadway Capacity Improvement Projects

    Freight Improvement Projects

    The transit recommendations in this plan include new passenger facilities, Bus Rapid Transit lines in high priority transit corridors, additional bus transfer hubs and Park & Ride facilities.

    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 underserved. 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 it encourages appropriate mitigation measures when such impacts are unavoidable.

    Care must be taken to avoid not only displacement, but also the damage to a neighborhood’s social fabric 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. 


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