Development and Application of an Integrated Health Impacts Assessment Tool for the Sacramento Region

Plans crafted by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) lay out how billions of dollars in transportation investments will be made over a 20 to 30-year time horizon. Federal transportation authorizations require MPOs to identify and track key indicators of system performance (e.g. collision rates, emissions, congestion) to ensure that they are stewarding public funds wisely to meet specific goals related to safety, environmental performance, and congestion mitigation, among other areas. Concerns related to preventing discriminatory impacts of planning activities, motivated by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also compel agencies to assess the impacts of plans on different demographic groups. At the same time, there is a growing desire among transportation planning agencies to develop transportation and land use plans that shift travel behavior away from driving and towards more active travel modes. Research has shown that living in areas where walking and bicycling are convenient leads to greater use of those modes, which can lead to improved health outcomes due to increases in physical activity. But increasing non-motorized travel can also increase active travelers’ risk of traffic injury and exposure to air pollution. Analytical tools that assess the tradeoffs between transportation plan alternatives are needed to inform public debate and ensure that gains in some health outcomes are not being undermined by losses elsewhere. Additionally, questions remain about who will benefit from plans that promote increases in active travel. The aim of this project is to investigate the distribution of public health impacts resulting from a regional transportation plan in the six-county Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) region.