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Paving the Way to Equity

February 16, 2023 08:00 AM
By: Nicole Tyler, Director of Equitible Transportation

There's no question that transportation is central to our society, and it needs to work for everyone. Race and transportation have long been intertwined, whether it be federally funded highways that isolated communities of color; Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott; or segregated streetcars and trolleys.

 At PennDOT, we're working to shift our perspective: we must not only be experts of our transportation system itself, but also in the challenges and inequities that our system perpetuates as we integrate new solutions and plan for future investments. We need to be honest with ourselves about the ways that transportation hasn't always served everyone, and work to right those wrongs and forge a new path moving forward.

In 2021, PennDOT completed the Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities (DSRI) report, which gives insight into PennDOT's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, assessed structural racism in transportation and evaluated programs and initiatives that could help correct these issues.

From the very start of a project or planning phase, we are working to collaborate with partners and stakeholders to best determine how to embed equity in all our short and long-range planning – making it part of the process, not just an afterthought.

We're looking at ways that we can reconnect communities that have been divided by projects in the past, like the I-579 Cap in Pittsburgh and the I-95 Cap in Philadelphia.

We're working with our safety partners across the state and at the federal level to help ensure that our critical safety messages are reaching all communities.  

We also recognize that small and diverse business are central to our communities and to our economy. We have expanded our outreach to small and diverse businesses to help connect them to potential contracting opportunities with PennDOT.

We're focused on our internal culture as well, and are working to make sure that everyone who works at PennDOT feels safe and welcome here.

We know that work in transportation equity is a journey, not a destination and PennDOT is committed to doing the hard work that is needed to eliminate barriers to transportation access, foster diverse community connections, enhance mobility, and provide an equitable transportation system that serves all Pennsylvanians.

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