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Environmental Justice – Degree of Impact

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The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) approved revisions to its Public Involvement Plan (PIP)  in February 2023. The CRTPO will update its Title VI plan in 2024.

Click here to the view the Public Involvement Plan: Title VI Expansion

Plan de Participación Pública: Documento VI Expansión Y Plan de Conocimientos Limitados del Inglés (LEP)

Click here to view the Limited English Proficiency Plan

Click on the map icon below to access our up-to-date online Degree of Impact mapping.

Degree of Mapping


Click here to view FAQs on environmental justice
Click here to view FAQs on Limited English Proficiency

Pertinent documents can be found at CRTPO’s offices in the Planning, Design & Development Department, located in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St., Charlotte, NC 28202.

For more information, contact the CRTPO secretary, Neil Burke, at 704-336-2205 or


The 2007 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Certification Review of the MPO recommended the development of a methodology by which the long range transportation plan’s impact on minority and low-income populations could be assessed. As there is no specific guidance provided by the FHWA on how to conduct such an assessment, staff embarked on researching existing methods already employed by MPOs throughout the nation. Several were found to be sound, effective, and easily applied to the planning area. This methodology is still being used today.

The methodology decided upon was originally developed by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), which serves as the MPO for the Philadelphia, PA area, and adapted for use within the Charlotte metropolitan region. This approach was selected because it offers several benefits:

  1. the methodology relies on data which is current, consistent, and readily-accessible;
  2. the methodology can be easily understood and similarly disseminated to the public;
  3. the methodology provides a substantive analysis of data, and can provide quantifiable impacts; and
  4. the methodology effectively illustrates to decision-makers and the public where enhanced study may be needed to fully assess potential impacts

Degree of Impact (DOI) Methodology

The Degree of Impact (DOI) analysis, adapted for use by CRTPO, is rooted in a need to appropriately identify populations and geographical areas where residents have traditionally not been involved in the planning process, or have been negatively impacted by transportation decisions. These populations have commonly been identified as environmental justice (EJ) populations.

DOI analysis attempts to illustrate for decision makers where it may be necessary to conduct enhanced study of either the proposed transportation network, or specific projects. It is often the first step in the process to develop further recommendations on plans, programs, and projects. CRTPO typically employs the DOI analysis as one means of providing substantive input during the environmental study phase of project development.

Population Below Poverty Level map from the 2050 MTP.

Figure from CRTPO 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan

How the methodology works

1. CRTPO, through its Title VI and Environmental Justice program, identifies seven demographically-based EJ populations in the MPO planning area. These populations include:

  • Black or African American residents;
  • Hispanic residents;
  • Asian-American residents;
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native residents;
  • households in poverty;
  • carless households; and
  • limited English proficiency households

2. Census and American Community Survey data are used to establish planning area averages for the seven identified EJ groups by dividing the total number of persons in each group by the total population or households for the planning area

3. Census tracts with EJ populations exceeding the planning area average are identified and a four-level “Degree of Impact” assessment scale is applied:

  • tracts with 0 EJ groups exceeding area averages denote No Concentration
  • tracts with 1-2 EJ groups exceeding area averages denote Slight Concentration
  • tracts with 3-4 EJ groups exceeding area averages denote Moderate Concentration
  • tracts with 5-7 EJ groups exceeding area averages denote High Concentration

4. Using geographic information system (GIS) software, a proposed transportation network (TIP or MTP) or individual project is overlaid on the demographic data. An analysis quantifies the overall impact of the plan or project on EJ populations, relative to plan/project characteristics (e.g., access, cost, length, right-of-way requirements).

5. Decision-makers assess the resulting information to determine if:

  • a proposed transportation network appears to include significant service gaps for environmental justice populations; or
  • a proposed project may have impacts on environmental justice populations that may require heightened analysis by project planners.
    • Planning area population = 1,000,000
    • Planning area population of identified EJ group A = 150,000
    • Regional threshold of identified EJ group A is 15% (150,000 ÷ 1,000,000 = 0.15)
    • Any census tract where the population of EJ group A exceeds 15% displays an EJ group concentration

Projects to be Included in CRTPO’s On-Going Assessment

At a minimum, the following project types will be included in the MPO’s assessment:

  • projects that add capacity on Interstate, US, and NC routes
  • projects that use federal funds on roads not identified as Interstate, US or NC routes
  • projects on regionally significant roads using non-federal funds
  • rapid transit projects (e.g., LYNX Blue Line)
  • other specific transit routes, as selected

How Will the Methodology Be Used?

Metropolitan Transportation Plan

  1. The MPO’s MTP project ranking process includes an environmental justice component based upon the DOI methodology.
  2. Draft horizon year transportation networks will be assessed using the DOI methodology.

Transportation Improvement Program
Upon its release by the NC Department of Transportation, the proposed transportation network will be assessed using the DOI methodology.

Project Environmental Analyses
The MPO regularly receives requests to provide comments to the NC Department of Transportation when it initiates the required environmental analysis of a proposed project. The MPO uses the DOI to identify potential impacts on environmental justice populations.

Prioritization for Specific Funding Programs
Impact on EJ communities – in this case, identified by accessibility – is currently included in the evaluation criteria for CRTPO’s available Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding process. Local agency applicants are able to access CRTPO’s on-line mapping of EJ DOI concentrations for the planning area and make a determination.
Project evaluation and preliminary prioritization for other funding sources may utilize a similar approach.

The DOI methodology can be used to assess the MPO’s distribution of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), Surface Transportation Block Grant – Direct Attributable (STBG-DA) and other funds.

Data Needed

  • Census data (Decennial, American Community Survey, and annual estimates)
  • TIP projects
  • MTP fiscally-constrained projects
  • CATS Transit routes
  • Other transportation networks and alignments

Please view our on-line Environmental Justice – Degree of Impact mapping here.

For more information on Title VI Civil Rights information click here