Health Impact Assessments in Massachusetts
MA DPH’s Division of Prevention and Wellness has completed three HIAs (in partnership with Health Resources in Action and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council) and currently has three projects in progress.
- The 100 Ballou Avenue Codman Square Redevelopment HIA
This HIA explored the potential health impacts of developing a 23,000 sq. ft. vacant lot in the Codman Square section of Dorchester. Specifically, it explored how the proposed design, which incorporates multiple proposed uses including a playground, food production, teaching garden and a building for instruction and community-use will impact the neighborhood’s health across a range of health outcomes related to food access, physical activity and safety. This HIA was conducted in partnership with Health Resources in Action (HRiA). Check back for a link to the full report: http://hria.org/services/health-impact-assessment.html
- The Quequechan River Rail Trail Project HIA
This HIA explored the potential health impacts of a 1.4 mile extension of a rail trail in the City of Fall River. The HIA explored how this proposed development project could impact health determinants such as physical activity, air quality, crime and safety, and economic development. This HIA was conducted in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). For the full report go to: http://www.mapc.org/quequechan-river-rail-trail-hia
- Speed Reduction on Local Roads HIA
This HIA explored a piece of proposed legislation that would lower the default speed limit on all “functionally classified local roads” in the State of Massachusetts from 30mph to 25mph. The HIA investigated how reducing speed on these roads would impact health determinants ranging from fatalities and injuries, air quality and opportunities for physical activity. Check back for a link to the full report: http://www.mapc.org/speed-limit-reduction-local-roads
In Progress HIAs
- Healthy Neighborhood Equity Fund HIA
Conservation Law Foundation Ventures (CLFV) and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) have proposed a private equity fund to support Transit Oriented Development (TOD): the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund. To attract investors and to continue to build support for the link between TOD and health outcomes, the fund will include health metrics (health outcomes of making targeted neighborhood investments in TOD projects). A cluster of TOD projects in the Roxbury section of Boston will be analyzed for the purpose of developing these metrics. The HIA will investigate the development projects in Roxbury and therefore serve two purposes, 1. Inform the development process for three TOD projects (Mission Hill/Parcel 25, Bartlett Place/Nuestras Comunidad, Tropical Foods/Madison Park), and 2. Help define the health related metrics that will form the health related component of the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund. The HIA will be completed by August 30th, 2013.
- The Fitchburg Vacant Lots HIA
The Fitchburg Vacant Lots HIA will examine City proposals for the re-development of vacant lots. These proposals include the following strategies:
- The city is considering zoning reform options to allow for urban agricultural use of vacant lots. Agricultural use could include community gardens/market gardens, farmers markets, tree farms, livestock.
- The city is considering adopting policies to use vacant lots for stormwater management purposes to include options such as rain gardens or natural play spaces.
- The city is considering adopting policies to use vacant lots for off-street parking using stormwater management strategies (e.g. permeable surfaces).
- The city is considering zoning reform and other policy options to allow for the development of play and community cultural spaces on vacant lots (to include a possible “adopt a lot” policy).
- The City of Worcester Union Hill Revitalization HIA
The City of Worcester is embarking on a broad neighborhood revitalization strategy in the Union Hill area of the city, a neighborhood that has experienced progressive decline over recent decades. Multiple city departments will address the range of needs in a collaborative format not previously applied. It is anticipated the strategy will be refined and subsequently applied in neighborhoods around the city over time. The Worcester Division of Public Health, in cooperation with multiple city agencies and supported with funding and technical assistance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, will conduct a rapid, concurrent a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the strategy, to be completed by August 30, 2013. Worcester Division of Public Health staff will be aided on this project by a WDPH consultant as well as staff from the Office of Economic Development.
To learn more about any of these HIAs contact Ben Wood, Healthy Community Design Coordinator at email@example.com or 413-587-7525.
MDPH Bureau of Environmental Health
MassDOT is currently conducting a study, "Grounding McGrath" to determine the future of the Route 28 Corridor. MassDOT felt the size of the investment necessary to restore the highway provided an opportunity to evaluate the feasibility, benefits, impacts, and costs of removing at least a portion of the elevated structure on Route 28/McGrath Highway. As a complement to the study, the Massachusetts Department of Health conducted a health impact assessment (HIA) to evaluate how alternative designs of the McGrath Highway may affect the health of residents. The Massachusetts Department of Health released the draft HIA for a 30-day public comment period on April 5, 2013. The HIA examined the ways that expected impacts related to the de-elevation of the highway (e.g., air quality, mobility and connectivity, noise, public safety and land use) might influence respiratory and cardiovascular disease, obesity, and stress, among other outcomes. The Grounding McGrath HIA determined that two of the five alternative designs are most optimal in terms of mobility and access. To learn more, visit our Health Impact Assessments page. The 30-day public comment period is open through May 5, 2013.
Contact Margaret Round, Environmental Analyst, at Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-624-5757 with questions.
Other Massachusetts HIAs
The Health Impact Project tracks Health Impact Assessment activity across the country. Click here for descriptions of other HIA projects that have been completed or are underway in Massachusetts (www.healthimpactproject.org/hia/us).
This information is provided by the Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention within the Department of Public Health.