A Health Impact Assessment was performed to determine the health impacts of an express Busway planned to run between New Britain and Hartford Connecticut. Specifically, the assessment focused on resident employment, community safety and the possibility of neighborhood gentrification. Data indicated that the increases in employment possibilities offered by reliable transportation such as a Busway would have a positive effect on the health of residents, especially in New Britain and Hartford. The current Busway plans could have an adverse effect on community safety, especially around the proposed multi-use trail. Additionally, the possibility of neighborhood gentrification after construction of the Busway could pose a risk for those residents lacking sufficient resources.
Recommendations have been made for increased lighting and police call stations along the multi-use trail, as well as improved barriers between the Busway and adjacent residential neighborhoods. Additionally, a recommendation has been made to monitor community demographics for signs of gentrification, so that plans can be made for to mitigate any effects on the economically-insecure residents.
At the time of dissemination of the data to the Council of Governments, gentrification was looked on as a positive for the region, without thought to the hardships that will be placed upon the residents of the area, many of who already pay more than 30% of their household income on rent. The fact that decision makers are now open to the idea that gentrification can cause a problem is a move in the right direction, but there are still skeptics.
This is one of the first HIAs completed in the state. While the findings of the HIA came after final approval of the overall Busway plan, there was still a possibility that some small changes could be made. The Capital Region Council of Governments will use the data on the report as a baseline assessment of the affected neighborhoods, and has requested our assistance in any future assessments. Perhaps most importantly, the HIA brought health to the table with a regional planning group who has agreed to work with the HIA team on future plans at earlier stages in their development.