The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) conducted an HIA to evaluate how alternative designs of the Route 28/McGrath Highway corridor may affect the health of residents. The HIA focused on health impacts related to new park space, multimodal access to the region, improvements in air quality, and enhanced connectivity between neighborhoods. The HIA examined the ways that expected impacts related to the de-elevation of the highway (e.g., air quality, mobility and connectivity, noise, public safety and land use) might influence respiratory and cardiovascular disease, obesity, and stress, among other outcomes. The HIA was completed to complement the active Massachusetts Department of Transportation study of the corridor. MDPH was able to build the HIA stakeholder strategy using the Massachusetts Department of Transportation stakeholder workgroup as an important communication tool.
The HIA found that de-elevation of the highway structure would likely result in an increase in ground-level exposure to traffic-related air pollutant emissions, such as criteria pollutants and ultrafine particles. The HIA recommended that a more comprehensive assessment of air pollution impacts be conducted to minimize exposure to traffic-related pollutants and maximize implementation of mitigation measures.
Mobility and Connectivity
The designs of all four future alternatives for the McGrath Highway were not developed at this stage of the study. The HIA recommended that high quality design elements associated with active transportation be incorporated, and that pedestrian and bicycling networks conform to Complete Streets Guidelines.
The screening-level analysis performed during the HIA indicated that higher noise impacts would be associated with the de-elevated highway structure. The HIA recommended that a more comprehensive analysis of noise impacts be conducted to identify areas where noise mitigation is needed.
The HIA recommended that alternative designs incorporate strategies to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The HIA also recommended that sidewalk, bike path, and open space safety plans along the corridor are developed and promoted in cooperation with local law enforcement, to increase likelihood that the surrounding community select active transportation options.
Land Use and Economic Development
The McGrath Highway Corridor is classified as an environmental justice community by EPA. The HIA recommended that all project alternatives mitigate displacement and ensure affordability of goods and services, stabilization of the cost of rental apartments, and employment opportunities.
The HIA determined that all project alternatives would likely result in significant reductions in traffic-related air pollution due to advancements in vehicle emissions standards and technologies. The HIA determined that the Boulevard Road Diet Alternative and Innerbelt Alternative designs are most optimal in terms of mobility and access.