Recurring Community Impacts
Community & Cultural Concerns, Environmental Process
Under 1 year
Research Idea Scope
TERI Administrator Note (June 2007): Funded as NCHRP Project 25-25, Task 36
Completed October 2009. Completed study can be found at:
Survey the state transportation agencies and FHWA division offices to determine if their NEPA analyses typically include a look at community impacts from past government actions, including transportation projects? If yes, determine what effect this had on decision-making, particularly with regard to environmental justice and context sensitive solutions.
The survey should also gather information on the types of impacts considered, with particular emphasis on those that are cumulative in nature, and it should identify best practices for addressing these imapcts. These best practices should be compiled, synthesized, and disseminated through AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence web site.
Urgency and Payoff
Community impacts assessment is not only a critical part of the NEPA process, it is essential for building trust and securing grassroots support for projects. Direct impacts to communities, particularly neighborhoods, are real time and reasonably well understood, and there are proven techniques and methods to identify and quantify them. Environmental justice impacts, especially those of a cumulative nature, are more problematic, given the dynamics of community growth and development and the broad array of contributing factors.
One facet of environmental justice impacts that may be overlooked during the environmental assessment of current projects is the past effect of government-sponsored construction on the same communities in which these current projects are now proposed. Many neighborhoods may have been previously adversely impacted by substantial numbers of business and residential acquisitions, the introduction of physical barriers that eliminated or impeded access, the intrusion of undesirable physical elements, such as traffic noise and air pollutants and a general erosion of community cohesion. As aging transportation facilities are slated for reconstruction and improvements, these communities will be affected once more. Too frequently, minority and low-income neighborhoods bear the brunt of these cumulative imapcts, raising environmental justice concerns.
William R. Hauser, Chair AASHTO Sub-Committee on Community and Cultural Concerns 603 271 3226