The Biden-Harris Administration created the Justice40 Initiative to confront and address decades of underinvestment in disadvantaged communities. The initiative will bring resources to communities most impacted by climate change, pollution, and environmental hazards.
Here at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Justice40 is an opportunity to address gaps in transportation infrastructure and public services by working toward the goal that many of our grants, programs, and initiatives allocate at least 40% of the benefits from federal investments to disadvantaged communities. It is not a one-time investment, but a series of changes that will be implemented across the Department.
Through Justice40, DOT will work to increase affordable transportation options, that connect Americans to good-paying jobs, fight climate change, and improve access to resources and quality of life in communities in every state and territory in the country.
The initiative allows DOT to identify and prioritize projects that benefit rural, suburban, tribal, and urban communities facing barriers to affordable, equitable, reliable, and safe transportation. DOT will also assess the negative impacts of transportation projects and systems on disadvantaged communities and will consider if local community leaders have been consulted in a meaningful way during the project’s development.
On August 18, 2022 the White House announced DOT’s official Justice40 covered programs list. Please visit the links below to learn more about each program. Programs without a link are new and still under development.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
- Carbon Reduction Program (CRP)
- Charging & Fueling Infrastructure Grants
- Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ)
- Congestion Relief Program
- Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services (DBE/SS) Program
- National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Competitive Program
- National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program
- Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects (NSFLTP)
- On the Job Training Supportive Services
- Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Formula Program
- Protect Grants
- Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities
- Transportation Alternatives (TA) (Surface Transportation Block Grant set-aside)
Tribal High Priority Projects Program
- Tribal Transportation Program Bridge Program (Bridge Investment Program Set Aside)
- Tribal Transportation Program Bridge Program (Bridge, Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection and Construction Set Aside
- Tribal Transportation Program
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program- NOFO closes December 1, 2022
- Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail
- Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant program - UPDATED - NOFO closes October 4, 2022
Federal Transportation Administration (FTA)
- All Stations Accessibility Program - UPDATED - NOFO closes October 7, 2022
- Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program
- Buses and Bus Facilities Formula Program
- Low or No Emission Vehicle Program
- Capital Investment Grants Program (CIG)
- Electric of Low Emitting Ferry Pilot Program
- Passenger Ferry Grant Program
- Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility Pilot Program
- Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Program; Tribal Transit Competitive Program
- Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning
Maritime Administration (MARAD)
Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST)
- National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program - Mega Grant Program
- Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects- INFRA Grants Program
- Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity- RAISE Discretionary Grants
- Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program - NOFO closes October 13, 2022
- Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program
- Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program - NOFO closes November 18, 2022
- Thriving Communities Program
Transportation Disadvantaged Community Definition Methodology
In February 2022 the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) in beta form. The tool aims to help Federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities (DACs) that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution as part of the Justice40 Initiative. While CEJST is still in beta, the Department is using an interim definition to identify disadvantaged communities for Justice40-covered programs, consistent with OMB guidance and relevant statutory authorities. DOT is using this interim definition to ask applicants to Justice40-covered programs to identify how their projects benefit DACs.
Consistent with OMB’s Interim Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative, DOT’s interim definition of DACs includes (a) certain qualifying census tracts, (b) any Tribal land, or (c) any territory or possession of the United States. DOT has provided a mapping tool to assist applicants in identifying whether a project is located in a Disadvantaged Community, available at Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (arcgis.com). A shapefile of the geospatial data is available Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts shapefile (version 2 .0, posted 5/10/22).
The DOT interim definition for DACs was developed by an internal and external collaborative research process (see recordings from November 2021 public meetings). It includes data for 22 indicators collected at the census tract level and grouped into six (6) categories of transportation disadvantage. The numbers in parenthesis show how many indicators fall in that category:
- Transportation access disadvantage identifies communities and places that spend more, and take longer, to get where they need to go. (4)
- Health disadvantage identifies communities based on variables associated with adverse health outcomes, disability, as well as environmental exposures. (3)
- Environmental disadvantage identifies communities with disproportionately high levels of certain air pollutants and high potential presence of lead-based paint in housing units. (6)
- Economic disadvantage identifies areas and populations with high poverty, low wealth, lack of local jobs, low homeownership, low educational attainment, and high inequality. (7)
- Resilience disadvantage identifies communities vulnerable to hazards caused by climate change. (1)
- Equity disadvantage identifies communities with a high percentile of persons (age 5+) who speak English "less than well." (1)
Transportation disadvantaged communities have indicators specific to transportation. Please note Reconnecting Communities Notice of Funding Opportunity uses the "Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts" tool as one option for determining whether a community is "Economically Disadvantaged." To identify the census tracts that could be considered transportation disadvantaged, the DOT Justice40 team took five steps:
- For each census tract, the percentile value is calculated for each of the 22 indicators, where the 99th percentile represents the most disadvantaged.
Within each category, the average percentile for each tract is calculated. For example- in the transportation access category the average of the four indicators is calculated.
- For each category, a tract triggers for disadvantaged if it is in the 50th percentile of disadvantaged (percentile ranking average = .5 or higher). For the resilience category only, a tract triggers for disadvantaged if it is in the top 75th percentile of disadvantaged (.75 or higher). If a tract triggers as disadvantaged in a particular category, it is assigned a value of one (1) for that category. If it does not trigger as disadvantaged, it is assigned the value of zero (0).
- The scores across all six categories are summed for each census tract, resulting in a score ranging from zero (0) to six (6).
- A census tract is considered transportation disadvantaged if it has a score of four (4) or higher Underlying Indicators and Sources in DOT Definition of Disadvantaged Communities
|>30 min commute||Percent of total population with a drive time to employment greater than or equal to 30 minutes||(1)|
|No Vehicle||Percent of total population with no vehicle(s) available||(2)|
|Walkability||A composite index of economic and built environment characteristics representing the extent to which the location is not supportive to walking||(3)|
|Transportation Burden||Transportation Costs % Income for the Regional Typical Household||(1) + (6)|
|Population 65 and older||Percent of total population over age 64||(2)|
|Uninsured||Percent of population without health insurance||(2)|
|Disability||Percent of the non-institutionalized population with any disability||(2)|
|Homes Built Before 1960||Percent of housing units built before 1960 (lead paint indicator)||(4)|
|Diesel||EJ Index for Diesel particulate matter level in air||(4)|
|Cancer||EJ Index for Air toxics cancer risk||(4)|
|Traffic Proximity||EJ Index for Traffic proximity and volume||(4)|
|PM25||EJ Index for PM2.5 level in air||(4)|
|Ozone||Ozone level in air||(4)|
|Less HS Education||Percent of total population, age 25 and older, whose reported education is short of a high school diploma||(2)|
|Renters||Proportion of occupied housing units not occupied by property owners||(1)|
|Unemployment||Percent of civilian labor force reported as unemployed||(2)|
|GINI Index||Endemic inequality||(7)|
|Low Income||Percent of total population reported at or below area median income||(2)|
|Poverty||Percent of population below Federal Poverty Level||(2)|
|Housing Costs||Housing Costs % Income for the Regional Typical Household||(1)|
|Climate Hazards||Expected annual loss of life, building value and agricultural value from 18 climate hazards||(5)|
|Linguistic Isolation||Percent of households (interpreted as individuals) in linguistic isolation||(2)|
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey (ACS) 5 Year Estimates 2015-2019. 2019.
- Center for Disease Control. Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2021 Oct 20]. Available from: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html
- Ramsey K, Bell A. Smart Location Database: Version 2.0. Environ Prot Agency EPA. 2014;1–52.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 May 5]. Available from: https://www.epa.gov/ejscreen
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency. National Risk Index [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 6]. Available from: https://hazards.fema.gov/nri/
- HUD Exchange Location Affordability Index - HUD Exchange
- FEMA Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool (GINI Index) – >FEMA.gov/RAPT
DOT is establishing a Thriving Communities Program to provide technical assistance and capacity building resources to improve and foster thriving communities through transportation improvements. This includes launching a new online portal, the DOT Navigator> to access technical assistance resources available across the Department; and introducing the new Thriving Communities Program to support communities with planning and project development of transformative infrastructure projects that increase affordable transportation options, enhance economic opportunity, reduce environmental burdens, improve access and quality of life, and provide other benefits to disadvantaged communities. DOT is partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which will provide complementary technical assistance as part of the Thriving Communities program to improve the coordination of housing and transportation planning to advance residents’ access to opportunity and increase housing supply.
In November 2021, USDOT hosted two virtual public meetings related to the Justice40 Initiative. During these interactive meetings, participants heard from senior USDOT leaders about the Justice40 Initiative and were asked for input on it. Both sessions were open to the public, but content differed based on the expected prior knowledge of participants. We anticipate the information covered will be of interest to members of impacted communities, potential USDOT funding recipients such as state, regional, and local government agencies, tribal nations, academic institutions, community-based, non-profit, and private-sector organizations.
Please see the description of these sessions below and watch the recordings based on your interest.
Session #1: On November 9, USDOT hosted the first session in a two-part interactive series on the Justice40 initiative. This first session introduced the Justice40 initiative and discussed the benefits that transportation investments can bring to disadvantaged communities. The session assumed no prior knowledge of USDOT structure, programs, funding mechanisms, or terminology.
Session #2: On November 16, USDOT hosted the second session in a two-part interactive series on the Justice40 initiative. This second session asked participants to provide input on the types of data and metrics that USDOT can use to develop a framework for transportation programs impacting communities. The session assumed some prior knowledge of USDOT structure, programs, funding mechanisms, and terminology as well as the types of data used in environmental justice and related fields. Though not required, participants are encouraged to watch session #1 for additional context ahead of session #2.
- White House Publishes Draft Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool
- White House Interim Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative
- White House Blog Post on The Path to Achieving Justice40
- U.S. Department of Transportation Request for Information on Transportation Data and Assessment Methods and Related Information Session
Interested in hearing the latest on our equity work?
If you would like to request the Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts shapefile (version 1) please email your request to email@example.com