Harris County is seeking feedback on equity in transportation as part of its ongoing countywide transportation planning effort.

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the countywide transportation plan is a long-range planning document that will serve as a guide for future transportation projects, programs, policies and advocacy for unincorporated Harris County through 2040. According to Libby Bland, senior planner and urban designer with Askura Robinson, the plan will address all parts of Harris County's transportation system, including capital, operating and maintenance activities for all transportation modes and is slated to be completed by early 2021.

The plan is comprised of the multimodal thoroughfare plan, Harris County Vision Zero and the equity in transportation plan, which was presented to the public in a virtual meeting Dec. 8.

As part of the equity in transportation plan, county officials recently launched a public survey to gather feedback on equity as it relates to transportation in Harris County. The survey is available online in both English and Spanish.

"What we want to do with this project is to make sure that we hear from you, hear your story, hear what [equity in transportation] means for you and give the county what it needs to make an equity statement and be able to do projects that are fair and equitable going forward," said Kirsten Jeffers, founder of Kristen Jeffers Media, during the meeting.

According to Zakcq Lockrem, managing principal with Asakura Robinson, the equity in transportation plan will focus on six key topics, including equity in access, safety, health, climate resilience, funding and decision-making.

"We're really focused on achieving equity with respect to race and ethnicity," said Kelsey Walker, a senior associate with Traffic Engineers Inc., during the meeting. "We're also really interested in making sure that our transportation system serves people in communities at the lower end of the income distribution. Throughout the process we'll be looking at how transportation decisions have impacted these communities historically and how the county can equitably connect people to destinations and resources moving forward."

In addition to the survey, Lockrem said the project team would be hosting a series of workshops for Harris County employees to further discuss equity in transportation, while also conducting research to assess the current state of equity in transportation across the county.

"We'll also be developing an assessment of best practices around the country," Lockrem said. "This is actually not only the first time a study like this has been done in the county, but it's actually one of the first in the entire United States. So we'll be looking at some of the other folks that have done similar processes and think about what we can do."

For more information about the equity in transportation plan, click here. To submit questions or comments to the Harris County Engineering Department, emailing [email protected].