2012 - Research

Health Impact Assessment of the Atlanta Beltline

To make health a decision criterion for the Atlanta BeltLine, a multibillion-dollar transit, trails, parks, and redevelopment project, a HIA was conducted in 2005–2007 to anticipate and influence the BeltLine's effect on health determinants.

  • Although a health impact assessment (HIA) is a tool that can provide decision makers with recommendations to promote positive health impacts and mitigate adverse health impacts of proposed projects and policies, it is not routinely conducted on most major projects or policies.
  • To make health a decision criterion for the Atlanta BeltLine, a multibillion-dollar transit, trails, parks, and redevelopment project, a HIA was conducted in 2005–2007 to anticipate and influence the BeltLine's effect on health determinants.
  • Changes in access and equity, environmental quality, safety, social capital, and physical activity were forecast, and steps to maximize health benefits and reduce negative effects were recommended.
  • Key recommendations included giving priority to the construction of trails and greenspace rather than residential and retail construction, making health an explicit goal in project priority setting, adding a public health professional to decision-making boards, increasing the connectivity between the BeltLine and civic spaces, and ensuring that affordable housing is built. BeltLine project decision makers have incorporated most of the HIA recommendations into the planning process. The HIA was cited in the awarding of additional funds of $7,000,000 for brownfield clean-up and greenspace development. The project is expected to promote the health of local residents more than in the absence of the HIA.
  • This report is one of the first HIAs to tie specific assessment findings to specific recommendations and to identifiable impacts from those recommendations. The lessons learned from this project may help others engaged in similar efforts.

Ross, C. L., K. Leone de Nie, et al. (2012). "Health Impact Assessment of the Atlanta BeltLine." American journal of preventive medicine42(3): 203-213.