Environmental Justice (EJ) in transportation has been defined as the fair distribution of transportation benefits and burdens among all people. Under federal regulations pertaining to Environmental Justice, a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) ensures that its Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) are consistent with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, identifies and assesses the transportation needs of low-income and minority populations, and acts to improve public involvement processes to eliminate participation barriers for low-income and minority persons.
Plan 2035 recognizes Environmental Justice as a key issue facing the region. The plan describes how low-income and minority populations
historically have borne the burden of noise, pollution and
other negative impacts of infrastructure investments, without
necessarily benefiting from them. Highways have split neighborhoods, blocked access to waterfronts, and created
harmful levels of emissions in some residential neighborhoods.
Development of Plan 2035 particularly explored the nexus of affordable housing, jobs and access. An NJTPA Socioeconomic, Housing and Transportation Roundtable convened a panel of experts to explore this topic, with representatives
of transit agencies, non-profit advocacy groups, state
government and universities. Among the areas discussed were:
- Tax-sharing arrangements and reduced dependence on
property taxes to fund education.
- Attracting investment to centers and downtowns.
- Promoting workforce housing development throughout the region.
- Overcoming public resistance to density and transit-oriented
Previous studies conducted by the NJTPA have identified and assessed transportation needs of low-income and minority populations of northern New Jersey and examined how transportation project benefits have been distributed. In the needs analysis, data were collected and analyzed from various sources, including the US Census Bureau (Population and Economic Census), the NJ Department of Transportation, NJ Transit, NJ Department of Labor, NJ Department of Human Services, NJ Department of Education, the Office of Smart Growth of the NJ Department of Community Affairs, and infoUSA. A Technical Advisory Committee, comprised of staff from the NJ Department of Transportation, NJ Transit, NJ Department of Human Services, and several NJTPA subregions, assisted in this effort.
A continuing focus on Environmental Justice assists the NJTPA and its partner agencies in:
- developing, prioritizing and selecting transportation strategies and project concepts for the benefit of low-income and minority populations throughout the region and to prevent increased burdens on these communities
- assessing impacts of transportation programs and projects
- developing or modifying project prioritization criteria
- informing the NJTPA’s Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program, by providing a comprehensive understanding of the travel behavior of low-income and minority populations, and the location pattern of jobs and job-training centers
- supporting opportunities for further collaboration between the NJTPA and its partner agencies for future studies and projects in the context of Environmental Justice