Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) documents show that the agency has adopted policies that will give consideration to “transportation equity” due to past injustices and present inequities in transportation planning.
On January 25, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13985, officially titled Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. It directs the federal government to revise agency policies to account for racial inequities in their implementation. As a result of this order, on May 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a Request for Information (RFI) on Transportation Equity Data.
These actions by the federal government – occurring just over a year ago – have already impacted transportation planning in Florida.
For example, a policy brief distributed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Office of Policy Planning – titled “Equity Subject Brief” – describes strategies to improve transportation equity. The document notes that the “state’s long-range transportation plan – the Florida Transportation Plan (FTP) – establishes the goal of Transportation Choices that Improve Equity and Accessibility.”
This policy message has reached the district staff level.
An agenda for a District One meeting in Bartow, Florida – which took place in September of last year – listed “Transportation Equity” as a discussion item. The item noted that FDOT manuals will include provisions for equity, there will be funding to address impacts from the past, and discretionary funding will have equity requirements.
In addition, it appears that the FDOT has hired a consultant to help with the implementation of this new policy direction.
Resource Systems Group Inc. (RSG), a consulting company that employs “research and analytics to inform our clients’ strategy and planning, helping organizations make critical decisions …” cites its relationship with the FDOT on its website.
RSG states the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has recently prioritized equity considerations amid the recognition of how past injustices and present inequities intersect with transportation planning. As part of this process, USDOT has solicited input into how the agency can advance equity. Changes include the prioritization of projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity outcomes.
RSG explains why FDOT needed its services:
“To keep apprised of rapid changes in the understanding of equity in a transportation context, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) tasked RSG with conducting an equity scan at the federal, state, and municipal level. We reviewed available literature on the topic and conducted in-depth interviews with four metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) across the state. RSG is using these findings to prepare a subject brief on equity for use by agencies across the state. The subject brief will help inform how FDOT can support other agencies and strengthen the role that equity has within the planning process. This work will better position FDOT to assist state MPOs in advancing equity in transportation.”
The Florida Capital Star has requested additional information related to FDOT’s relationship with RSG.
Reprinted with permission from The Florida Capital Star.