CQGRD Studies Health Impact of Atlanta Beltline

This forward looking assesment was made possible by a Robert Wood Johnson grant

Obesity is at an all-time high in the United States. Asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure plague an increasing number of Americans. These health problems have been tied, in part, to the very fabric of the places where we live and work. The relationship between health and the built environment is clear, yet little has been done to take a prospective look at the health-related impacts of proposed projects and policies, at least in the United States.

This gap is being filled by a Health Impact Assessment, or HIA, of the proposed Atlanta Beltline that is being conducted by Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development in the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech, with assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) and funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Beltline project would convert a partly abandoned railroad that circles downtown Atlanta into a transit corridor and multi-use trail connected to an expanded city park system and targeted areas for redevelopment.

CQGRD and CDC are using HIA tools-techniques applied in many European countries-to ascertain the potential health impacts of the Beltline project. The HIA will identify both positive and negative impacts, paying special attention to the distribution of effects to determine whether at-risk populations are subject to particular negative impacts.

"The Beltline assessment is an opportunity to place health considerations at the forefront of the policy and project decision-making process," said Catherine L. Ross, Harry West Professor and Director of CQGRD.

The Beltline HIA will be completed by the end of 2006 and the findings will be disseminated to local officials and the public.

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The Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) is dedicated to the study, dissemination, and implementation of ideas and technology that improve the theory and practice of quality growth. Established in 2003, the Center is a research arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Architecture. [www.coa.gatech.edu/cqgrd]

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. [www.rwjf.org]