Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Highway 252/I-94 Environmental Review

Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis

Equity and Health Assessment

The Equity and Health Assessment (EHA) pilot project was conducted by MnDOT's Office of Sustainability and Health on the Scoping Decision Document (SDD) for Hwy 252/I-94 through Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and North Minneapolis. The Hwy 252/I-94 EHA provided community insights about how changes to Hwy 252/I-94 could impact equity and health for communities in the project area.

Conducted in parallel to the Hwy 252/I-94 project engineering process between January 2021 and May 2023, the EHA process identified top focus areas to advance health and equity in the project area based on community engagement and existing conditions analysis. These priorities were narrowed down through a two-step process:

  • EHA report #1 — Equity and Health Baseline Conditions (May 2022): Baseline Conditions documented 31 considerations for how transportation can impact the physical, mental, social, environmental, and economic health in Hwy 252/I-94 communities. These were categorized into 6 equity and health focus areas: environment and human health, sense of community, property impacts, transportation safety, transportation options, and access to destinations.
  • EHA report #2 — Equity and Health Community Priorities (July 2022): Priorities summarized feedback from historically underserved communities in the Hwy 252/I-94 project area to prioritize the health and equity focus areas into three top priorities: Community Livability, Transportation Equity, and Roadway Safety.

The three top priorities guided an assessment of potential health and equity impacts of the proposed Hwy 252/I-94 project alternatives on Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park communities. The assessment and recommendations were documented in a final EHA report:

  • EHA report #3 — Equity and Health Assessment Impacts (May 2023): Assessment of the project alternatives and elements based on research from EHA reports 1 and 2 and guidance from the Equity and Health Neighborhood Advisors. The report included recommendations for how to consider equity and health in the Hwy 252/I-94 SDD and in other ways moving forward.

The EHA drew from principles and practices of Health Impact Assessment and Community Impact Assessment tools used by public agencies across the country to understand and address equity and health impacts on transportation projects. The EHA was parallel and separate from the project engineering process. This separation was important to allow the EHA to fully reflect community input.  MnDOT provided administrative support for the process and helped ensure EHA products were understandable and actionable for the project.

The EHA was administered by MnDOT’s Office of Sustainability and Public Health with support of an inter-agency working group that included MnDOT’s Livability Office, Hennepin County Health and Human Services, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Metro Transit and the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration).

How community was involved in the EHA

To ground this EHA in community, MnDOT convened an EHNA (Equity and Health Neighborhood Advisors) group. The EHNA consisted of members who live, work, or own a business in the project area and have an interest in advancing equity and health in transportation. MnDOT’s goal in selecting EHNA members was to ensure the group was balanced across project area communities and represented the region’s demographic diversity.

The EHNA group worked with MnDOT staff to:

  • Describe equity and health conditions in their communities;
  • Provide input on equity and health engagement activities; and
  • Provide input on potential transportation improvements to Hwy 252/I-94 project elements and alternatives.

Initial membership of the EHNA group was announced August 11, 2021. THE EHNA group convened over 12 meetings from September 2021-May 2023, roughly every other month for two hours each meeting. EHNA meeting documents are available for reference in the sidebar of this webpage.

What’s next for the Equity and Health Assessment

MnDOT documented and included the EHA Report findings into the final SDD phase in May 2023 as public input. MnDOT responded to the recommendations in coordination with other public comments as part of the SDD process. Moving forward, MnDOT will embed many of the EHA recommendations into the DEIS analysis and will concentrate more on community-based engagement for the DEIS phase.

The EHNA will not continue as a formal group during the Hwy 252/I-94 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) phase, which is expected to run through 2025. The EHNA members will be able to participate in future engagement activities.

Why equity and health is important to MnDOT

The Minnesota GO Vision for Transportation envisions a multimodal transportation system that maximizes the health of people, the environment, and the economy. This vision recognizes that transportation decisions impact our safety, physical activity, air and water quality, sense of place, connection to environment, community cohesion, and access to opportunity. To advance the Minnesota GO Vision, MnDOT is working to integrate these considerations in transportation decision-making processes.

Transportation equity means the benefits and burdens of transportation systems, services and spending are fair and just, which historically has not been the case. Transportation equity requires ensuring underserved communities, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, share in the power of decision-making (MnDOT Transportation Equity Statement of Commitment). MnDOT is working to better understand how transportation decisions help or hinder the lives of people in underserved and underrepresented communities and identify actions to make meaningful change.