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Feb 21 -- The Department of Transportation is issuing this request for information (RFI) to solicit feedback on DOT's updated Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts Tool (now named US DOT Equitable Transportation Community Explorer) and Index methodology that supports the Administration's Justice40 initiative. Responses to this RFI should be received by March 18, 2023.

Executive Order (E.O.) 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad”, and the subsequent “Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative” (M-21-28) charged each federal agency with creating an interim “disadvantaged communities” methodology to help each agency achieve the goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued M-23-09, an addendum to the “Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative,” (M-21-28) providing guidance on the use of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST).

In support of the Justice40 Initiative, the Department of Transportation (Department) developed the interim Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (Historically Disadvantaged Communities) tool. The Department is proposing to update and rebrand its current tool as the U.S. DOT Equitable Transportation Community Explorer (ETCE). The tool will serve an interactive web application that explores the cumulative burden disadvantage communities experience resulting from underinvestment in transportation in the following five component areas: Transportation Insecurity, Climate and Disaster Risk Burden, Environmental Burden, Health Vulnerability, and Social Vulnerability. ETCE uses newly available 2020 Census Tracts and data, adds additional indicators reflective of disadvantage related to lack of transportation investment and updates the methodology used to calculate disadvantage. In ETCE, individual variables and datasets are combined to create a score for each component (Transportation Insecurity, Climate and Disaster Risk Burden, Environmental Burden, Health Vulnerability, and Social Vulnerability). The scores from each component are percentile ranked and combined to create an overall index score. Under this methodology, a census tract will be considered disadvantaged if the overall index score places it in the 65th percentile (or higher) of all US census tracts. The 65th percentile cutoff was chosen to be consistent with other tools that measure disadvantage including CEJST.

Applicants to DOT's discretionary programs have the option of using CEJST and/or ETCE when developing funding applications. State DOT's and Metropolitan Planning Organizations can use ETCE in developing their Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs (STIPs)/Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs). DOT, as appropriate, will use ETCE as a consideration in making funding decisions and setting policy.

Through this request for information, DOT seeks input, information, and recommendations on the US DOT Equitable Transportation Community Explorer from a broad array of stakeholders in the public sector, including state, Tribal, and local governments, and territorial areas, and in the private sector, including advocacy, not-for-profit, academic, and philanthropic organizations, as well as from any other interested parties. DOT will use responses to this RFI to consider potential updates to the US DOT Equitable Transportation Community Explorer. After DOT has updated the tool with any modifications that are deemed necessary, the tool will supersede the current Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (Historically Disadvantaged Communities) tool. Respondents to this RFI do not need to address every question, but DOT welcomes input in the following areas: . . .

US DOT Equitable Transportation Community Explorer mapping tool, index methodology, and datasets: https://www.transportation.gov/priorities/equity/justice40/rfi-draft-equitable-transportation-community-explorer.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-03396

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