The Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, the Georgia Health Policy Center, and the Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization conducted an HIA to understand how policies and guidance detailed in the regional metropolitan planning organization’s freight study and expected increases in freight train traffic will affect residents’ health in Chatham County. The HIA focused on economic impacts, air quality, noise levels, and traffic safety, which can affect respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injury rates, and general health. It recommended that the county adopt anti-idling policies and create buffers to mitigate noise and air pollution. The HIA also urged it to try to further develop the local workforce and create more job opportunities so the economic benefits associated with increased freight movement are widely shared.
The HIA established a framework for considering the health effects of freight movement that focuses on infrastructure, commodity, and freight needs, and considers the disproportionate impacts on low-income communities and people of color. To encourage use of the framework, the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development will provide technical assistance to university, government, and nonprofit entities and is piloting the use of the framework on a second HIA on the Cargo Atlanta Citywide Freight Study. Both HIAs are supported by a Health Impact Project program grant.