From our farmlands to shorelines, and from our small towns to suburbs and big cities; our region is home to a diverse natural and economic landscape; and to a diverse population as well.
In order to connect the places and the people in our diverse region; the BRTB is committed to, and required, to seek input from all communities and individuals as well as share equal access to the process. The result is that the benefits and burdens of all BRTB plans and programs are shared equally by residents of the region.
The planning process that the BRTB is responsible for includes protected communities in the areas of environmental justice, limited English proficiency, individuals with disabilities and the elderly. Here we talk about these protected communities who tend to experience less involvement in regional planning and how the BRTB considers and involves these individuals.
To ensure equal access to the planning process, the Board takes extra care to provide opportunities for meaningful participation to populations that have been underserved in the past, and/or that face barriers to participation in, the planning process. To do so, “vulnerable” populations are first identified and mapped, based on US Census data, so outreach can be tailored to best reach each of the vulnerable populations.
While the BRTB's Public Participation Plan provides a basic framework for outreach to all, specialized plans and programs allow the Board to maximize engagement with vulnerable populations. For example, the Limited English Proficiency plan in English (pdf, also available in Spanish) identifies the most common non-English languages spoken in the region, and prescribes the services needed to communicate with individuals who speak them.
To ensure equal access to the benefit (and burdens) of the planning process, the Board considers service to vulnerable populations when it prioritizes the individual investments proposed for inclusion in the short-term Transportation Improvement program or the long-range transportation plan. And the Board considers service to vulnerable populations when it evaluates the benefits of all investments included in all plans and programs. When services for the disabled or elderly are chosen, such as under the FTA 5310 Program or Coordinated Human Service Transportation Plan, the information in the VPI is critical.
And while the BRTB performs, monitors, documents and enhances its work to connect with and not discriminate against vulnerable populations, the Board also offers a clear and fair process to address claims of such discrimination.
For more information on Environmental Justice in the Baltimore region: