HCDI Influences Billion Dollar Spending

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Couple Biking in Neighborh

CDC’s Healthy Community Design Initiative (HCDI) is a key source of federal expertise to help states and communities integrate health considerations into transportation and community planning decisions. As part of a pilot project with Nashville, Tennessee, HCDI is influencing how billions of dollars of transportation spending will occur. Keep reading to learn more about how HCDI can impact the health of millions of Americans through this project.

A Snapshot of HCDI’s Influence

  • At the local and state levels, HCDI has funded or provided technical assistance to one-quarter of the more than 300 Health Impact Assessments conducted in the United States to date.
  • At the national level, HCDI works with partners on transportation and health research initiatives.
  • At the metropolitan level, HCDI has most recently partnered with the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to pilot methods that integrate public health into transportation planning.

Nashville is among the first MPOs in the country to embrace health-oriented transportation planning and project selection, and HCDI’s technical expertise has been very important to this process. HCDI has helped the MPO develop transportation-related strategies that will promote the health and well-being of its residents through

  • increased physical activity,
  • reduced injuries, and
  • reduced exposures to pollutants.

Nashville MPO Allocates Six Billion Dollars

The technical assistance HCDI is providing will help prioritize how the Nashville Area MPO allocates approximately $6 billion of transportation funding over the next 20 years. This will help shape the built environment across seven counties in North Central Tennessee and touch 1.5 million residents.

Early in their partnership, HCDI provided guidance on how the MPO could integrate health topics into their 2012 transportation planning survey. This allowed the MPO and HCDI to better identify particular neighborhoods that may benefit most from health-oriented transportation projects.

In addition, HCDI assisted the MPO with using these newly collected health and transportation data to calibrate and run the Integrated Transportation and Health Impact Modeling (ITHIM) tool. To date, only a handful of locations in the US have used the ITHIM tool and Nashville’s experiences can serve as a model for others to follow. The results suggested that even moderate levels of increased walking and biking (such as an additional half mile walk per day) could save 188 lives per year in the region and defray $200 million in direct and indirect costs related to illness.

Geoffrey Whitfield
Project initiative lead, second-year Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, Geoffrey Whitfield, PhD. Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Whitfield.

The lead on this initiative, second-year Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer, Geoffrey Whitfield, PhD., presented ITHIM modeling results to the Tennessee health commissioner and regional mayors in March 2015. Regarding future plans, Whitfield stated, “If resources allow, I would love to continue this work in active transportation at CDC, but am looking at academic positions as well.”

Because of HCDI’s pilot work, the Nashville MPO’s most recent regional transportation plan shows 70% of projects include support for biking and walking. In the previous plan, only 2% of projects did so.

HCDI Work Highlighted

HCDI’s work with the MPO has been highlighted in the following publications:

For more information, visit the Healthy Community Design Initiative Web site.

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Page last reviewed: August 11, 2015
Page last updated: August 11, 2015