Incorporating Public Health in US Long-Range Metropolitan Transportation Planning: A Review of Guidance Statements and Performance Measures

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

94th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board


Washington, DC

Publication Date



Transportation influences public health primarily through traffic safety, air quality, physical activity, and accessibility. Despite the importance of all four components, only safety and air quality are typically considered during institutionalized transportation planning processes. This paper assesses the integration of public health into transportation planning by focusing on the long-range transportation plans that US metropolitan planning organizations develop. The most recent plans from eighteen large regions were reviewed for health or health components within plan guidance statements and supporting performance measures. Goals and objectives exhibited an incomplete perspective of transportation’s effects on health, focusing on safety, air quality, and accessibility. Regional guidance statements reflected national goals and planning requirements, which are rarely framed from a health perspective. Performance measures followed policy guidance except for physical activity. More work is needed to develop health-related performance measures, advance travel modeling and health assessment techniques, and improve public participation and environmental justice efforts. Best practices and study limitations are also discussed. This review informs a stronger and more comprehensive consideration of health concerns within the institutionalized structure of US metropolitan transportation planning.

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