Caltrans Transportation Equity Research Workshop

Caltrans Transportation Equity Research Workshop

Monday, November 16, 2020, 9:00am-1:00pm

Event Overview

This virtual workshop explored the role of Caltrans in promoting a more equitable transportation system in California. The workshop provided historical context on the role past transportation decisions have played in creating and maintaining inequities, offered academic perspectives on practices to promote a more equitable transportation system, and provided an opportunity for Caltrans staff to discuss how the agency can advance equity in its practices.

This workshop was the first in a series of research/policy workshops for Caltrans staff organized by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation. This event is eligible for 3.5 AICP Certification Maintenance credits.

Workshop Report


The workshop was run virtually via the Zoom platform. Participants were able to watch speakers, ask questions, and participate in small breakout sessions online.

9:00-9:45-  Welcome. Opening remarks on what equity means in the context of transportation, and a historical perspective. 

  • Jeanie Ward-Waller, Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Programs, Caltrans
  • Dr. Eric Avila, Professor of Chicana/o Studies, History and Urban Planning, UCLA

9:55-11:20-  Research roundtable. Short presentations from three researchers about their work on the equity implications of various transportation policies and programs.

  • Dr. Dana Rowangould, Research Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Vermont

Dr. Rowangould's Presentation Slides

  • Dr. Jesus Barajas, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis

Dr. Barajas' Presentation Slides

  • Dr. Jean-Daniel Saphores, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UC Irvine

Dr. Saphores' Presentation Slides

11:30-12:30-  Breakout sessions. Facilitated small-group discussions on the equity implications of participants’ work, the opportunities they see for their division/unit to promote more equitable outcomes, internal and external barriers to promoting equitable outcomes. Breakout sessions will be organized around the following questions:

  • How can Caltrans recognize and reduce disparate environmental impacts of transportation projects?
  • How can scarce transportation funds be allocated equitably? What metrics can be used to ensure maintenance funding is allocated equitably?
  • What factors should be considered in Caltrans Modal Plans and Corridor level plans to ensure equitable outcomes?
  • As Caltrans considers policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled, how do we consider equity implications of these policies – ensuring that everyone has the means to access employment, school, and services?

12:35-1:00-   Wrap-up. Report out on breakout sessions and next steps.

More Information

For more information about this workshop or upcoming research workshops, please contact Tyler Monson, Caltrans Division of Research, Innovation and System Information.


Pre-Workshop Reading

Participants are encouraged to read the NCST white paper “We Can Get There From Here: New Perspectives on Transportation Equity before the workshop for a broad overview of the many intersections between transportation and social and environmental equity.

Further Reading/Watching

There are many, many resources available on transportation equity. Here are a few Caltrans and academic resources that further explore these issues:

Public Zotero library of academic resources on transportation, race, equity, and justice.

UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies resources for understanding racism in transportation.


Caltrans' Conversations about Equity

Segregated By Design examines the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.

Divided Highways: The Interstates and the Transformation of American Life. Through interviews, archival footage and photography, America's interstate highway system is revealed to have shaped every aspect of American life and affected the nation's history for better and for worse.


The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt In the Modernist City by Eric Avila

Highway Robbery: Transportation, Racism & New Routes To Equity by Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson and Angel O. Torres

Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture & Resistance by Adonia E. Lugo

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein


Some additional resources related to the workshop discussion topics: