Transportation Planning and Public Health: To What Extent is Health Considered in Rural Local Transportation Plans?
MetadataShow full item record
Transportation systems can impact both physical and mental health, but the effects of transportation planning decisions on health, beyond safety and air pollution, are often overlooked or undervalued (Litman, 2013). Although not the only factor contributing to health disparities, transportation systems serve as a modifiable variable contributing to health behaviors and outcomes (Nieuwenhuijsen & Khreis, 2019). Following a similar approach to Singleton and Clifton (2017), a review of transportation planning documents from the ten most populous counties within the state of Montana was conducted to analyze the extent that health was considered. A directed and summative approach was used to identify and code health-related guidance statements, performance measures, and reference data in the domains of general health, safety, air quality, physical activity, accessibility, mental health, and equity. Although all transportation plans contained health-related guidance statements and reference data, only those transportation plans from counties containing a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) included health-related performance measures. The inclusion of health-related guidance statements and reference data is evidence that local Montana communities are interested in the impacts of transportation planning on health behaviors and outcomes. Without the federal requirements that MPOs must follow, rural governments are not utilizing health-related performance measures to fully understand performance of the local transportation system related to their community’s public health priorities. The existing performance management structure required of States and MPOs could serve as a guide for further integrating health-related performance measures into small urban and rural transportation planning and can assist local decision makers in analyzing progress toward community priorities (Singleton & Clifton, 2017).