Transportation Health Impact Assessment Toolkit
Transportation HIA Case Studies
Atlanta Beltline Health Impact Assessment
Background: The Beltline project is a transit redevelopment project that includes a 22 mile loop of rail transit service to connect all of the council districts of Atlanta. The vision also includes 33 miles of multi-use trails connecting 40 parks and the redevelopment of more than 6,500 acres of city land through construction of mixed use and mixed-income developments. The HIA was made possible by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development conducted the HIA.
HIA Scope: The HIA identified the areas in which the Beltline would impact health. It identified the study area to allow for a 0.5 mile buffer around the project boundaries, because 0.5 miles represents a reasonable walking distance that could determine access to Beltline facilities. The background data acquired included a population profile of demographic and health information for each planning area; mapping access to schools, health care facilities, chain grocery stores, parks, trails, and transit by planning area and demographic characteristics; the identification of rental housing units; crime rates; and an air quality and transit noise assessment.
Findings of Assessment: The HIA found that the Beltline redevelopment would increase physical activity and access to green space, improve public transit, reduce crime, and increase social equity and quality of life.
Recommendations: The HIA recommended speeding up the 25 year timeline in order to achieve the health benefits sooner. It also recommended that the project increase park access in underserved neighborhoods and make affordable housing a priority.
HIA Outcome: As a result of the HIA, the funding advisory committee will use a project’s health impact as a factor in selecting which proposals are carried out.
For more information: UCLA Health Impact Assessment Clearinghouse, http://www.hiaguide.org/hia/atlanta-beltline; and Georgia Tech Center for Quality Growth and Redevelopment, http://www.cqgrd.gatech.edu/projects/beltline_hia/index.php
Health Impact Assessment on Policies Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled in Oregon Metropolitan Areas
State of Oregon
Background: The HIA on the proposed Vehicle Miles Traveled and Oregon’s Jobs and Transportation Act was conducted by Upstream Public Health, the Oregon Health & Science University, Health Impact Partners, and a health and transportation expert advisory committee. The proposal would give funds to each MPO to design and implement VMT reduction plans through use of a variety of policies.
HIA Scope: The HIA process used community advisory committees to involve stakeholders and to facilitate community participation. It looked at the impacts of the legislation on physical activity, air pollution, car collisions, stress, household expenses, access to goods and services, water pollution, noise pollution, climate change, and vulnerable populations. The report acquired data on the status of these health determinants in the state. Researchers also conducted a literature review on the influence of the built environment on physical activity, air pollution, and traffic collisions. The report also analyzed the cost of a fuel tax to reduce vehicle miles traveled compared to the cost of a VMT tax, congestion pricing, and parking fees.
Findings of Assessment: The legislation would increase physical activity, decrease air pollution, decrease car collisions, and decrease all-cause mortality.
Recommendations: The HIA concluded that businesses should charge employees a parking fee and recommended a VMT tax instead of a gas tax: The VMT might encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation that could increase physical activity (like walking and biking) rather than switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Outcome: The legislation is still pending.
For more information: UCLA Health Impact Assessment Clearinghouse, http://www.hiaguide.org/hia/policies-reducing-vehicle-miles
Lowry Corridor, Phase 2 Health Impact Assessment
Background: The staff of Hennepin County conducted a rapid HIA on Lowry Corridor . The corridor was a blighted urban area with high rates of poverty and unemployment. The prevalence of crime and drug use hindered community vibrancy and interaction. The redevelopment project expected to increase social capital and employment opportunities, attract retail and office space to the area, and improve bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.
HIA Scope: As a rapid assessment, the Lowry HIA primarily relied on community characteristics to assess the health impacts. The HIA practitioners mapped the community assets, including convenience stores, markets, drug stores, religious facilities, schools, hospitals, commercial land use, mixed land use, and parks, to determine disparities in access. They also compiled data on the demographic, racial, health, crime, and family characteristics of each neighborhood from an ongoing health surveillance project in Hennepin County. They then completed a table on the expected impact of the project components on the determinants of health; the level, likelihood, and distribution of the impact; and measurable indicators specific to the project and county that could assess the health impact.
Findings of Assessment: Poverty and unemployment in the area contributed to health disparities. The corridor redevelopment would increase social supports, decrease fear of crime, increase physical activity, improve access to public transit, and increase mobility for people with disabilities.
Recommendations: The HIA recommended the development of several partnerships between public health officials and neighborhood associations, the transit authority, places of employment, and the Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development. It also recommended installing pedestrian-level lighting, driver-feedback speed limit signs, Share-the-Road signs, and increased public signage and route maps.
HIA Outcome: As a result of the HIA, the project manager was able to acquire federal funding for walk/don’t walk countdown timers, bike racks for public buildings, and markers for pedestrian traffic.
For more information: Lowry Corridor, Phase 2 Health Impact Assessment http://www.healthimpactproject.org/resources/document/lowry-corridor-phase-2.pdf [PDF -945 KB]
The Healthy Transportation Compact
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
The Healthy Transportation Compact requires the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to establish methods for planners, transportation administrators, public health administrators, and developers to implement HIAs on transportation projects. The initiative is authorized by the state’s Transportation Reform Legislation, which was signed into law in June 2009. Additional charges of the compact include promoting inter-agency cooperation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing bicycle and pedestrian travel, working to implement a complete streets policy, expanding services of the Safe Routes to Schools program, initiating public-private partnerships, and establishing advisory councils.
For more information: Massachusetts Department of Transportation Healthy Transportation Compact
More Transportation HIA Case Studies
You will find resource libraries containing full HIA reports at the following Web sites:
- UCLA Health Impact Assessment Clearinghouse: Transportation Sector HIA Reports
- Human Impact Partners: Land Use and Transportation HIA Library