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SECTION: ENVIRONMENT & MITIGATION

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ––

IDENTIFYING POPULATIONS

 

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Policy Directive 15, Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, in 1997, establishing five minimum categories for data on race. Executive Order 12898 of 1994 and DOT Environmental Justice Order 5610.2(a) of 2012 address persons belonging to any of the following groups:

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Environmental Justice interactive map application

Minority, meaning a person is:

  • Black -- a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

  • Hispanic or Latino -- a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

  • Asian -- a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent.

  • American Indian and Alaskan Native -- a person having origins in any of the original people of North America, Central America, or South America, and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.

  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander -- a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

 

Low-Income -- a person whose household income (or in the case of a community or group, whose median household income) is at or below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.

American Community Survey data (2015-2019 5-year estimates) was compiled, analyzed, and mapped to show the concentrations and distribution of environmental justice populations in the HATS Region. In past environmental justice analyses, census block groups with minority or low-income higher than the regional average were identified as “environmental justice communities”. To provide a more nuanced and complete picture of the geographic location and needs of, as well as potential impacts on, the HATS region’s environmental justice populations, this analysis will examine statistically grouped concentrations, rather than solely using a threshold distinction.

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Table 1 (above) provides a demographic profile of the HATS region at the county and regional level. The minority population comprises 23.16% of the total regional population, with the vast majority (approximately 70%) located in Dauphin County. The low-income population accounts for 9.77% of the total regional population, a majority (approximately 60%) located in Dauphin County.

Table 2 and Table 3 show the distribution of minority and low-income populations by percentage interval. Approximately 34.06% of the region’s total population and 73.55% of the region’s minority population lives within a block group with higher than average minority population.  Approximately 33.08% of the region’s total population and 70.74% of the region’s low-income population lives within a block group with higher than average low-income population. However, the percentages associated with the intervals show the minority population is much more concentrated in the region than the low-income population.

Table 4 shows cross-tabulation of minority and low-income populations by percentage interval. The cross-tabulation data shows minority populations are more likely to be low-income than non-minority populations, indicating a high degree of cross-over between minority and low-income populations in the region.

Map 1 and Map 3 also illustrate this data, by displaying percentage minority and low-income populations by census block groups. These maps illustrate significant concentrations of  both low-income and minority populations in and around our urban centers of Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Shippensburg. Map 2 and Map 4 add dot densities for the demographic data, which depicts minority and low-income populations within census block groups that have relatively low concentrations. It is important to note that these dot densities are a graphic devise used to illustrate a population within the entire census block group and should not be interpreted to be portraying an exact location.

All the demographic data can also be viewed within the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

 

 

ASSESS CONDITIONS

 

To provide an accurate picture of the impacts of transportation planning on our region’s environmental justice populations, the current conditions of the transportation system must be evaluated in the context of environmental justice. This will allow us to not just evaluate the impact of any one plan or program, but to examine the impacts of the decades of decisions made that comprise our comprehensive transportation planning process while identifying additional areas of need and gaps in our system. Working cooperatively with PennDOT, a variety of indicators were compared to the distribution and concentration of environmental justice populations and are presented below.

As previously mentioned, the regional threshold will not be solely used to identify specific communities as “environmental justice communities”. However, the regional average will still be referenced in some of the following analyses.

 

BRIDGE CONDITION

 

Table 5 and Table 6 show the distribution of poor condition bridges and all bridges, respectively, by minority population interval. There are a total of 138 poor condition bridges in the HATS region, of which 17 (12.3%) are located within census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average. Conversely, there are a total of 1,328 bridges in the HATS region, of which 237 (17.8%) are located within census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average.

 

Table 7 and Table 8 show the distribution of poor condition bridges and all bridges, respectively, by low-income population interval. Of the 138 poor condition bridges in the HATS region, 61 (44.2%) are located within census block groups whose concentration of low-income population exceeds the regional average. Of the 1,328 total bridges in the HATS region, 423 (31.9%) are located within census block groups whose exceed the regional average.

 

Map 5 and Map 6 display the distribution of poor condition bridges by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

 
PAVEMENT CONDITION

 

Table 9 and Table 10 show the distribution of poor condition pavement and excellent condition pavement, respectively, by minority population interval. There are a total of 215.59 miles of poor condition pavement in the HATS region, of which 45.58 (21.1%) are located within census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average. Conversely, there are a total of 550.49 miles of excellent condition pavement in the HATS region, of which 56.18 (17.8%) are located within census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average.

 

Table 11 and Table 12 show the distribution of poor condition pavement and excellent condition pavement, respectively, by low-income population interval. Of the 215.59 miles of poor condition pavement in the HATS region, 104.38 (48.4%) are located within census block groups whose concentration of low-income population exceeds the regional average. Of the 550.49 miles of excellent condition pavement in the HATS region, 163.96 (29.8%) are located within census block groups whose exceed the regional average.

 

Map 7 and Map 8 display the distribution of poor and excellent condition pavement by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

 
BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN CRASHES

 

Table 13 shows the distribution of bicycle and pedestrian related crashes (2013-2017) by minority population interval. Of the total 877 bicycle and pedestrian related crashes in the HATS region, 554 (63.2%) occurred within census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average. Additionally, the number of bicycle and pedestrian crashes per 1000 population is approximately 400% higher in census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average (3.86 average) than in census block groups whose concentrations of minority population does not (0.86 average). The census block groups in the lowest minority population interval have the lowest number of crashes per 1000 population and the census block groups in the highest minority population interval have the highest number of crashes per 1000 population. This shows a strong connection between concentration of minority population and incidence of bicycle and pedestrian crashes.

 

Table 14 shows the distribution of bicycle and pedestrian related crashes (2013-2017) by low-income population interval. Of the 877 bicycle and pedestrian related crashes in the HATS region, 542 (61.8%) occurred within census block groups whose concentration of low-income population exceeds the regional average. The number of bicycle and pedestrian crashes per 1000 population is approximately 450% higher in census block groups whose concentrations of low-income population exceeds the regional average (4.22 average) than census block groups whose concentrations of low-income population does not (0.92 average). Similar to the trend discussed in the minority population data, census block groups in the lowest low-income population interval have the lowest number of crashes per 1000 population and the census block groups in the highest low-income population interval have the highest number of crashes per 1000 population. This shows a strong connection between concentration of low-income population and incidence of bicycle and pedestrian crashes.

 

Map 9 and Map 10 display the distribution of bicycle & pedestrian crashes by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

 
FATAL/SERIOUS-INJURY CRASHES

 

Table 15 shows the distribution of fatal and serious-injury related crashes (2013-2017) by minority population interval. Of the 1,044 fatal and serious-injury related crashes in the HATS region, 340 (32.6%) occurred within census block groups whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average. While the average crashes per 1000 population was slightly higher in census blocks whose concentration of minority population exceeds the regional average than those that do not (1.95 average vs 1.84 average), the difference does not appear to be significant.

 

Table 16 shows the distribution of fatal and serious-injury related crashes (2013-2017) by low-income population interval. Of the 1,044 fatal and serious-injury related crashes in the HATS region, 122 (32.6%) occurred within census block groups whose concentration of low-income population exceeds the regional average. The average crashes per 1000 population was slightly higher in census blocks whose concentration of low-income population exceeds the regional average than those that do not (2.15 average vs 1.88 average), indicating a possible connection between concentration of low-income population and fatal and serious-injury related crashes.

 

Map 11 and Map 12 display the distribution of poor condition bridges by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

 
TRANSIT ACCESS

 

Figure 1 shows approximately 28% of the minority population and 60% of the non-minority population lives within a census block group with no designated CAT bus stops, while approximately 46% of the minority population and 17% of the non-minority population lives within a block group with more than 5 designated CAT bus stops. Figure 2 shows approximately 54% of the non-low-income population and 38% of the low-income population lives within a block group with no designated CAT bus stops, while approximately 35% of the low-income population and 27% of the non-low-income population lives within a block group with more than 5 designated CAT bus stops.

 

Map 13 and Map 14 display the distribution of poor condition bridges by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

 
CONCLUSIONS

 

Based on the above analyses, poor pavement condition and bicycle/pedestrian-related crashes are more prevalent in areas with higher than average concentrations of minority and/or low-income populations.

 

The Environmental Justice analysis conducted for the previous Regional Transportation Plan found similar discrepancies with poor condition pavement, particularly in census block groups with concentrations of minority population that exceeds the regional average, indicating an area in need of attention and/or mitigation. The 2045 RTP Project Pipeline evaluation criteria included environmental justice populations, applying points along the population intervals discussed above. Additionally, locally-owned, federal-aid eligible asset data collection and analysis will be a focus of the implementation of the RTP. These may help alleviate issues regarding discrepancies in bridge and pavement condition.

 

The Environmental Justice analysis conducted for the previous Regional Transportation Plan did not conduct a comparable evaluation of bicycle and pedestrian-related crashes to indicate performance over time. However, non-motorized transportation and safety are high priorities of the RTP. The on-going safety plan update will directly address non-motorized crashes. The RTP Project Pipeline criteria applies points for bike/ped crashes and important bike/ped transportation routes (the Regional Backbone). Finally, the RTP Implementation Grant Program was created specifically to fund transportation studies and construction projects that make walking, biking, and accessing transit safer and more convenient.

BENEFITS AND BURDENS

 

The benefits that the regional transportation program can bring are access, mobility, safety and environmental quality. The burdens of the program can be a reduction in any of those areas to a community. Many transportation projects require a trade-off between those aspects of the transportation system and the distribution of the benefits and burdens. For example, a project that will decrease congestion in one community may result in a decrease in the environmental quality of another as additional vehicles begin utilizing the improved route. Increased safety may require a trade off in access or mobility, and increased access may bring mobility concerns. Benefits and burdens analysis in respect to environmental justice is done to ensure that the benefits of transportation investment are being shared equally and that the burdens created by new projects are not being borne by one part of the public over another.

CURRENT PROGRAM

 

To assess the impacts our current transportation program has on EJ communities in the HATS region, we must examine all aspects of that program. This includes the HATS Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the PennDOT 12-Year Transportation program (TYP), and the HATS Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Each of these programs covers different time frames. The 2021-2024 HATS TIP, adopted in June 2020, covers the next 4 years of programming and has the most well-developed information regarding estimated costs and project details. It also contained its own Environmental Justice Analysis.

 

The PennDOT TYP covers the next 12 years of transportation improvements (incorporating the TIP as the first four years), and contains relatively well-developed information regarding estimated costs and project details. The HATS RTP project pipeline identifies long-range transportation needs, but lacks reliable information regarding estimated costs and project details. As such, the quantitative analysis will focus on the projects contained in the 2021-2024 HATS TIP and the PennDOT TYP, while the qualitative analysis will focus on the long range needs identified in the HATS RTP project pipeline.

 

The quantitative analysis used GIS software to compare projected investment to the location of EJ populations (low-income and minority) in the HATS region. The analysis was heavily impacted by the programmed Interstate projects, which represents approximately 73% of the total estimated spending in the HATS region over the next 12 years.

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As shown in the table above, per capita spending generally increases in each subsequently higher minority population percent interval, with block groups below the regional average having lower than average per capita spending and block groups above the regional average having higher than average per capita spending. This is true whether the Interstate projects (which, as discussed heavily skew this analysis) are included or not. Roadway and Bridge projects dominate the non-Interstate investments programmed on the TYP, accounting for more than 98% of the total. Approximately 54% of roadway and bridge investments are located within block groups below the regional average for minority population.

 

However, as noted above, the per capita spending is higher in for block groups above the regional average than below the regional average. Bicycle/Pedestrian are relatively equally distributed throughout the percent intervals, but concentrated in the third and fourth highest percent interval. Intermodal projects programmed consist primarily of park-and-ride projects and are located within the lowest percent interval. It should be noted that, in addition to the projects identified on the TYP, HATS provides support for transit, typically through CMAQ funding, and has unmapped investments (such as the CAT Employment Access project) that aren’t included in the quantitative analysis, but provide benefits to environmental justice populations by increasing access to transit.

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As shown in the table above, per capita spending as it relates to low-income population percentage intervals are similar to the trends discussed for minority populations above – generally higher in the block groups above the regional average than below and generally increasing in each subsequently higher interval. Approximately 59% of roadway and bridge projects are located in block groups above the regional average for low-income population. Bicycle/pedestrian projects and intermodal projects follow the same general pattern as discussed above as well.

While the distribution of projects and investment appears to be equitable, large projects, such as the Eisenhower Interchange and I-83 East Shore Section 3 projects can skew the analysis. These large projects can impose burdens on the surrounding community, particularly during the construction phases of the project, but can also provide benefits through improving connectivity and safety, particularly from improvements done on secondary roads as part of the larger overall project. The decision to locate these interstates was made long ago, but through consistent input from and outreach to our region’s environmental justice populations, we can work to minimize the burdens and maximize the benefits.

 

Map 15 and Map 16 display the distribution of poor condition bridges by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

FUTURE NEEDS

 

The process of identifying new needs typically comes from analyses, plans, and studies, as well as comments from the public. While these sources often have recommendations regarding the solutions to the identified long-term needs, exact projects and implementation efforts are rarely developed. As such, information related to the exact cost and scope is often not known, which makes substantive quantitative analysis difficult.

The long-term needs identified in the 2045 Regional Transportation plan are primarily related to maintaining or enhancing our existing transportation system, minimizing the need to acquire significant right-of-way or displace people. The notable exceptions to this is the identified interchange/interstate needs. These projects can involve significant right-of-way acquisition, prolonged construction periods, and increased traffic volumes upon completion. Outreach to low-income and minority communities early in the project development process is key to ensuring the benefits and burdens are shared equally among all of the public.

To provide some guidance, the table below shows the needs identified in our project pipeline, and the size of the low-income and minority populations present within the same census block group as the identified need. While the early stages of every project should involve outreach to environmental justice populations, this table provides an overview on the projects for which these outreach efforts will be particularly crucial.

Map 17 and Map 18 display the distribution of poor condition bridges by minority population and low-income population, respectively. This data is also available in the Environmental Justice Interactive Mapping Application.

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CONCLUSION

 

The analysis of conditions highlighted two areas of concern – road condition and bicycle/pedestrian crashes. Each are disproportionally represented in block groups with higher than average concentrations of minority populations or low-income populations. The quantitative analysis shows the majority of bicycle/pedestrian projects are located in block groups above the regional average for low-income populations and minority populations. However, roadway projects (which includes resurfacing projects) are not distributed in a way that would address the discrepancies found in the condition analysis. There can be a variety of reasons for this, including asset management needs and funding limitations, but the consistent identification of this issue requires continued monitoring in future environmental justice analyses.

Further, HATS is already implementing efforts to address these discrepancies. As discussed above, the RTP Implementation Grant Program will provide funding to studies and projects that make walking, biking, and using transit safer and easier. HATS is also coordinating an effort to collect and analyze locally owned assets so that they will be equally considered during the Project Pipeline and TIP project selection processes. Finally, the Project Pipeline evaluation criteria includes concentration of environmental justice populations.

The analysis conducted is only a snapshot captured of this point in time. Continued refinement of the methodology and analysis of trends in both system condition and programmed investments will be required to fully understand how well we are addressing environmental justice concerns. These efforts, along with improved data sources and expanded public outreach must be a goal for HATS moving forward.