Advancing Equity in Capital Investment Decision-Making

Principal Investigator(s):

Frank Douma, Director, State & Local Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


Project summary:

Although previous studies have assessed the capital improvement plans (CIPs) of specific localities, there is limited research on common approaches to incorporating equity in capital investment decision making. There is no systematic research on the equity definitions and measures used, or documentation of the challenges and opportunities for incorporating equity measures in transportation capital investment decisions.

This project aims to assess the extent to which equity is incorporated in transportation capital investment decision processes in Minnesota localities and Native nations that share geography with Minnesota. First, the research team will administer a survey to Minnesota localities and Native nations to identify which of them include an equity component in their capital investment decision-making, equity definitions and metrics used; and capture the limitations they face when incorporating equity in their planning process. Second, through a series of case studies, the team will explore how and to what extent Minnesota cities, counties, and Native nations incorporate equity considerations in their capital investment decision making, the challenges they face, and the strategies used to overcome these obstacles to identify successful practices to inform capital improvement decision making to advance equity. Third, based on the study findings, the team will identify successful practices for incorporating equity in capital investment decision making for localities and Native nations in Minnesota. Lastly, the team will develop a guideline for equity considerations in capital investment decision making that Minnesota localities and Native nations can adapt to their own needs. The guideline will include (i) a list of quantitative and qualitative metrics, the rationale for using them, existing data sources, and methodologies for data collection when the information is not already collected and, (ii) a community engagement tool that local and Native governments may use to assess trust levels of community members, build relationships with communities, and gather community inputs during their capital investment decision making process.

The findings and the several documents developed through this research will help Minnesota localities and Native nations to incorporate equity in their transportation planning to better serve people, particularly the socially or economically disadvantaged populations.

Project details: