How does Census relate to transportation?

by guest blogger Ann Briggs

You may have noticed links to the 2010 Census on WSDOT’s web site and wondered, “What the heck does the Census have to do with transportation?”

Well, quite a lot actually.  As you may know, the federal Census Bureau counts the entire United States population every 10 years. The results of this year’s Census will determine where federal money gets directed in support of community services such as schools, roads and public transportation. As much as $400 billion in federal dollars are distributed back to states and communities.

The Census results also determine the number of seats each state gets in Congress, based on population. Washington’s congressional delegation helps secure federal funding for important transportation projects such as the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program ($0.24 billion), I-5/SR 16 Tacoma/Pierce County HOV ($70 million) and the US 395 North Spokane Corridor ($18 million).

Here at WSDOT, we use Census data when we plan and design transportation projects.  We evaluate both the negative and positive effects that can be expected on a community. Census data helps us develop a snapshot of the community – everything from population, to home ownership, to identifying the needs of residents. Using Census data, we can determine when interpreters and translated materials are needed, and determine how best to reach people who are transit dependent, low-income or have other needs. This helps us ensure that all affected people can participate in our public processes.

You should be receiving your Census materials in the mail soon. We join our federal partners in encouraging you to complete and mail back your Census form – by doing so, you’ll be helping Washington’s communities.

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