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Integration, status and potential of environmental justice and the social impact assessment process in transportation development in Missouri
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    12/02 through 12/03
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  • Abstract:
    This research examines the Social Impact Assessment Process at the Missouri Department of Transportation as directed by the

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The analysis includes an examination of the influences of the more recent directives

    provided by Community Impact Assessment and Environmental Justice within the Social Impact Assessment and NEPA processes.

    Four case studies are used to assess the influence of human-dimension impacts in transportation development. The case studies

    include the organizational setting and development of an environmental emphasis in the Missouri Department of Transportation, the

    process of environmental clearance that includes human-dimension impacts, the influence of Environmental Justice and Community

    Impact Assessment, and the industry guidance, trends and policies created to address Environmental Justice.

    Findings of this research indicate that the Social Impact Assessment process is under-utilized in transportation development but

    holds great potential for opening the environmental and transportation decision-making process to greater influence on the part of

    citizens. Constraints to increased effectiveness of the Social Impact Assessment Process include the organizational setting in

    Departments of Transportation, the original NEPA guidance, the lack of personnel with social science backgrounds at Departments

    of Transportation, the budgetary constraints on staffing facing these organizations, and the lack of external agency influence over the

    Social Impact Assessment Process.

    The Social Impact Assessment process is likely to increase in relevancy for Departments of Transportation based on the Federal

    Highway Administration’s emphasis on human-dimension impacts and potential legal challenges regarding Community Impacts and

    Environmental Justice. Increased consideration of the human-dimension issues surrounding the transportation development process

    can benefit citizens and communities by ensuring transportation facilities enhance rather than degrade the social and economic

    setting of neighborhoods and communities. Departments of Transportation are also likely to benefit from greater consideration of

    human-dimension impacts through increased citizen consent for projects and decreased environmental clearance delays.

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