A dynamic modeling approach to investigate impacts to protected and low-income populations in highway planning
Environmental justice (EJ) assessment has traditionally focused on identifying distributive effects to protected populations. Federal and State highway improvement programs have been established to stimulate economic development for these populations. While this issue has long been recognized as part of EJ initiatives, no quantitative comparisons of highway construction impacts on protected populations have been reported in the literature. This paper presents a dynamic modeling approach to investigate impacts to protected and low-Income populations in highway planning using an integrated Geographic Information System (GIS) and Genetic Algorithms (GAs) optimization framework. Using census and county level parcel data, the model integrates various socioeconomic factors into a GIS while generating highway alignments using GAs. Examples using county level census data from North Carolina are demonstrated to test the sensitivity of generated highway alignments with constrained distances from protected populations. The results indicate that it is important to consider local social and economic effects, in addition to regional planning objectives when measuring the effectiveness of feasibility studies associated with highway construction. Within the proposed modeling framework attention is directed on various EJ initiatives, such as environmental health and safety laws in minority and low-income areas. The model would help planners, designers, and policy-makers understand the intricate interrelationships among local communities, while facilitating more scientific and economically equitable planning for highway construction projects.
Volume (Year): 45 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7 (August)
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