Promoting Environmental Justice Populations’ Access to Opportunities within Suburban Boomtowns: An Interdisciplinary, Mixed-Methods Approach to Addressing Infrastructure Needs

Jandel Crutchfield, University of Texas at Arlington


  • Courtney Cronley, University of Texas at Arlington, School of Social Work
  • Kate Hyun, University of Texas at Arlington, Department of Civil Engingeering


Scant research has considered transportation infrastructure development within the context of suburban boomtowns, specifically transportation needs among individuals already at elevated risks for transportation disadvantage, e.g., environmental justice (EJ) populations including lower-income persons and those with disabilities (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2012). This study responds to this knowledge gap by utilizing a community-engaged interdisciplinary approach to assess divergence between economic growth and transportation infrastructure development within a suburban boomtown, and the impact of potential divergence on access to opportunities for environmental justice (EJ) populations. The interdisciplinary team, comprised of social work and civil engineering researchers will measure residents’ perspectives of the transportation infrastructure development in the area over the past decade, the extent to which this development has matched the economic growth, and the implications for access to affordable quality housing, employment, quality public education, as well as engagement in cultural and social activities. The team will utilize a mixed-methods (focus groups, primary surveys, and secondary data), exploratory design to collect responses from a diverse sample of stakeholders. The researchers will compare results within and between environmental justice populations and those who may have greater transportation mobility, e.g., own personal vehicles. Social work will lead the community-engaged component of the data collection, and civil engineering will conduct statistical modeling related to mapping census data onto transit access. The team will produce a regional infrastructure profile, which can inform public policies that support targeted transportation infrastructure development. Moreover, study results more widely will inform the knowledge base regarding the relationship between economic growth and transportation infrastructure within suburban boomtowns, and how to improve their co-development, with a particular emphasis on the planning needs of EJ populations.

Project Details

Project Type:
Small Starts
Project Status:
End Date:
November 30,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Small Starts 2018
UTC Funding: