With the passing of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November, state DOTs will soon see around 50 percent more annual transportation spending over the next five years. U.S. DOT has outlined its vision for spending under the IIJA, first in a memo from FHWA, and more recently in a series of “Innovation Principles.” The message to state DOTs is that they should focus on preserving existing infrastructure, ensuring safety for all road users, protecting the environment, and reconnecting communities, all while embracing experimentation, adaptation, and collaboration. Many states are now positioning themselves to get a decent slice of the pie and to make the most of what they get.
The Pennsylvania DOT recently unveiled a report from its Dismantling Systemic Racism and Inequities Working Group that details recommendations to establish anti-racist principles at the core of the work done by the DOT. Collecting input from the community, staff, leadership, and other DOTs, the report lays out strategies to balance the PennDOT workforce, invest in disadvantaged communities, reduce disparity in contracting, engage with communities of color, and increase diversity on advisory boards and commissions.