Assessing the environmental justice impacts of toll road projects
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Inadequate and uncertain transportation funding have in recent years resulted in a renewed emphasis on using investments that can be recovered by toll charges to finance new roads and modernize existing roads. This has raised questions about environmental justice (EJ) and how it pertains to tolling. In 2004, TxDOT Project 0-5208 was funded to propose an approach for the identification, measurement, and mitigation of disproportionately high or adverse impacts imposed on minority and low-income (EJ) communities by toll roads relative to non-tolled facilities. The methodology proposed had two equally important components: an analysis/quantitative component and an effective EJ participation component. However, the research raised concerns about the ability of various available analytical tools and analysis techniques to measure the potential impacts imposed on EJ communities by toll roads relative to non-toll roads. The objective of this thesis study was to extend the work that was conducted under TxDOT Research Project 0-5208 by (a) reviewing the ability of available tools and analysis techniques to quantify and qualitatively describe the EJ impacts associated with toll road projects and toll road systems through an evaluation of state-of-the-practice applications, and (b) recommending a suitable approach to assess the EJ impacts of toll roads and toll road systems on EJ communities. The research conducted to meet the study objectives has culminated in this thesis.