March 10, 2023

Carolyn Abrams, M.U.R.P., Sr. Transportation Planner, Caltrans
Henry McKay, Sustainable Transportation Analyst, Caltrans


Caltrans: Developing the Statewide Transportation Equity Index


1:40pm - 3:00pm


1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) acknowledges that communities of color and under-served communities have experienced fewer benefits and a greater share of the burdens associated with California’s transportation system. These disparities largely reflect a history of transportation decision-making, policy, processes, planning, design, and construction that has quite literally put-up barriers, divided communities, and amplified racial inequities, particularly in Black and Brown neighborhoods.

To operationalize Caltrans’ commitments to equity, the department is developing the Caltrans Transportation Equity Index (EQI). The EQI is a spatial screening and evaluation tool that utilizes multiple transportation-specific and socioeconomic indicators to identify transportation-based priority populations at the Census block level. Many tools exist to evaluate the impact of the built environment. However, these tools typically consider a wide range of factors that are not explicitly focused on burdens directly caused or exacerbated by the transportation system. Caltrans aims to bridge this gap by creating an index to inform how the Department can best address and mitigate transportation-related inequities.

Biographical Sketch

Carolyn Abrams is a Senior Transportation Planner for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Ms. Abrams manages the Priority Populations Program in the Director’s Office of Equity, Sustainability, & Tribal Affairs. She holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Development from UC Davis. Carolyn has eight years of professional experience conducting policy-oriented research and solutions-based community planning and engagement. Her work has largely involved cross-disciplinary projects focused on the analysis of equitable land use, with particular attention paid to communities that are historically under-resourced and overburdened by economic, health, and environmental disparities. In her current role, Ms. Abrams coordinates multi-agency efforts to address the harms of California’s transportation system with the end goal of implementing policies and practices that better serve our communities.

Henry McKay is a Sustainable Transportation Analyst for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), working on the SB 743 implementation team in the Director’s Office of Equity, Sustainability, & Tribal Affairs. He holds a Bachelor of Science in City and Regional Planning and a minor in Statistics from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo. Henry has two years of experience working at the intersection of transportation planning, data analysis, and policy. His current work involves the development and implementation of multimodal access to destinations project performance metrics and equity-focused spatial analysis tools. Prior to that, he worked on travel demand forecasting and network integration and planning projects for rail and transit projects in California.

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