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Caltrans Launches Equity Tool to Identify Transportation Inequities, Cites Pasadena

Published on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 | 5:37 am

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) launched a new equity tool on Tuesday designed to help identify communities across the state that have been negatively impacted by transportation projects, including in Pasadena.

In a statement about the tool, Caltrans cited research that shows communities in Pasadena and other California cities have been hurt by past unfair transportation decisions. With the EQI, Caltrans can more easily identify and prioritize transportation projects that improve access in these areas using state and federal funding.

The Transportation Equity Index (EQI) will use traffic, crashes, air pollution, and transit access data to determine which neighborhoods have suffered from transportation-related inequities. Caltrans aims to use the tool to inform project selection and policy decisions to better align the transportation system with state environmental and equity goals.

“We need to identify the ways our transportation infrastructure has negatively impacted our communities and neighborhoods,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “Better data lets us build equity into our transportation system from the ground up.”

The tool includes three key indicators: household income and tribal lands, traffic proximity and crash exposure, and access to destinations via transit, bicycle, and pedestrian networks. It relies on public and private data sources.

Some adverse effects of transportation decisions include higher exposure to crashes, reduced access to jobs and education, and worse environmental and health outcomes. The EQI aims to ensure new projects lead to long-term quality-of-life improvements for every community.

Caltrans began developing the EQI in 2021 as part of its equity initiatives and the state’s Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure. The tool’s first application will be enhancing the analytical capabilities of the Caltrans System Investment Strategy, which will guide transportation investments using a data-driven approach.

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