Environmental justice considerations in heavy-vehicle traffic within the landscape of Austin, Texas




Greeman, June

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Freight trucking is an industry whose impacts remain under-discussed in planning spheres with regard to social equity. Despite literature detailing the varied and unique impacts of heavy vehicle traffic to nearby communities, decision makers are slow to separate freight and its effects from traffic at large. This leads in turn to a lack of awareness detailing the environmental justice issues accompanying freight traffic. While in recent years, freight generating land uses have come to be accepted under the same political pretext of other locally unwanted land uses, the ways in which freight is distributed on the roadways has gone mainly un-examined, despite research clearly showing racial and economic disparities in the populations nearby major routes. To provide understanding of these issues in a regional context, heavy-vehicle traffic on Austin roadways was analyzed to reveal the possible existence of these disparities in Austin. The analysis reveals Hispanic populations to be disproportionately within the impact of heavy vehicle traffic, further legitimizing the need for local and regional decision-makers to take action towards remedying environmental injustice in areas surrounding major Austin roadways. Distribution of heavy-vehicle traffic within Austin must be understood as a clear consequence of historic and continued structural racism within Austin area policy and infrastructure.


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