Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Advancing Transportation Equity Initiative

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Research & Literature/Program Review – Phase 1

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In the recently updated Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan, the Minnesota Department of Transportation committed to “study how transportation affects equity and identify transportation strategies that will meaningfully reduce disparities.” The following proposed effort would be an early step in implementing this work plan item.

Goals & assumptions

  • Transportation is a contributing factor to the achievement of many broad societal outcomes such as health, wealth, employment, etc. We want to better understand the role transportation plays in achieving these outcomes.
  • We know there are existing inequities among communities in Minnesota. We want to know where these inequities exist based on available data.
  • There are other groups already working on identifying, documenting and addressing inequities in Minnesota. We want to add to these efforts, not duplicate.
  • We know there are gaps in the collective understanding of the relationship between transportation and equity. We want to identify future research needs.

How this relates to other work

This project is not a standalone effort. It is part of a more comprehensive MnDOT initiative focused on advancing transportation equity. Other closely related work items include:

  • Research & Literature/Program Review – Phase 2: An effort to implement additional research based of needs identified in this project. This work will begin after the completion of this project as part of separate research contracts.
  • Community Conversations: A complementary and simultaneous effort focused on learning about existing conditions from a qualitative, experience-based perspective. This project is primarily led by MnDOT with consultant support through a separate contract.
  • MnDOT Process Review: A complementary and ongoing effort focused on changing internal MnDOT policies and practices related to equity. This work is led by MnDOT.

Budget & timeline

The budget for this project is up to $100,000. A rough project timeline is identified below:

  • Spring/Summer 2017: MnDOT background work
  • Fall 2017: Scope of work developed
  • Winter 2018: Contracting process and begin work
  • Spring/Summer 2018: Preliminary results shared
  • Fall 2018: Final report completed

Scope of work

Task 1: Project management

Work with the MnDOT project team to direct and manage the project tasks, schedule and budget. Ensure deliverables are met. Coordinate and attend regular meetings with the MnDOT project team.

Deliverables: Regular project team meetings; monthly invoices and progress reports

Task 2: Literature review

Perform a literature search within established transportation research databases and other potentially relevant sources to identify existing work related to transportation and equity (more specific example topics are listed below). Work with the MnDOT project team and MnDOT advisory groups to identify the most relevant research. Conduct a literature review of the selected research and summarize key findings into a literature review summary.

Examples of topics of interest to the project team are:

  • Known inequities among communities in Minnesota. Look at inequities in terms of broader societal outcomes like health, wealth, employment, etc. and demographic factors such as race, ethnicity, income, disability status, age, geographic location, gender and others as pertinent. A specific area of interest is communities with overlapping vulnerabilities.
  • The role transportation plays in the achievement of broader societal outcomes, specifically those where existing inequities are identified.
  • Existing or proposed metrics which transportation agencies could use to measure equity.

Deliverables: List of potentially relevant work to review; Interim literature review summary; Final literature review summary

Task 3: State of the practice review

Perform a program/practice search of transportation agencies – local, regional, state, national and international – to identify existing work related to transportation and equity (more specific example work is listed below). Include other non-transportation public agencies doing work related equity that may be applicable. Work with the MnDOT project team and MnDOT advisory groups to identify the most relevant programs/practices. Review the identified programs/practices and summarize key findings into a state of the practice summary.
Examples work of interest to the project team is:

  • Programs/practices that transportation system providers are implementing to address inequities.
  • Programs/practices that other public entities are implementing to address inequities. Focus on examples that potentially could apply to transportation decisions and processes.
  • Existing metrics used by public agencies, especially transportation agencies, which are used to measure equity.

Deliverables: List of potentially relevant work to review; Interim state of the practice summary; Final state of the practice summary

Task 4: Recommendations

Based on what is learned in Task 2 and Task 3, work with the MnDOT project team, MnDOT advisory groups, and other relevant stakeholders to identify recommended actions for MnDOT and other transportation partners to take in order to advance equity. These recommendations should focus on potential changes to policies and practices. Recommendations related to future research are part of Task 5.

Deliverables: List of recommended actions for MnDOT and partners

Task 5: Research roadmap

Based on what is learned in Task 2 and Task 3, work with the MnDOT project team, MnDOT advisory groups, and other relevant stakeholders to identify and prioritize gaps in research and understanding related to advancing transportation equity. Develop draft research problem statements for the high-priority, under-researched areas. Also, identify potential research programs to consider for funding of future research.

Deliverables: Prioritized list of under-researched areas; Draft research problem statements for high-priority areas; List of potential research programs

Task 6: Final report

Combine deliverables from Tasks 2-5 into one final report. Develop a draft of the report and update as needed based on feedback from the MnDOT project team. The report should include supporting materials such as an executive summary, key talking points and a PowerPoint presentation summarizing key findings. All final documents must meet MnDOT formatting and accessibility requirements.

Deliverables: Draft final report; final report; executive summary; key talking points; PowerPoint presentation

Other considerations

  • This is a project about advancing equity. Diversity of the project team and DBE/TBG participation is important.
  • The ideal project team would include a mix of practitioners and researchers. Members of the team should be familiar with transportation work and research programs in Minnesota and nationally. Subject matter experts in the area of equity are also valued.
    • Proposed model: A mini research collaborative inclusive of staff from MnDOT and U of M researchers. Include subject matter experts from other university, agencies, non-profits, private sector, as needed (as part of contract with U of M). MnDOT staff are available to participate in task completion in addition to the general project management/advisory role.