County Awarded Health Impact Assessment Grant
For Immediate Release Friday, January 27, 2012
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has awarded a $15,000 Health Impact Assessment (HIA) grant to Washington County. OHA’s HIA initiative focuses on building the capacity of public agencies to evaluate the health effects of projects and policies. The county’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be the project lead, with support from the Department of Land Use and Transportation (LUT).
The grant-funded HIA will provide valuable information to decision makers as the county updates its Transportation Plan’s ‘active transportation’ (bicycle and pedestrian) policies, develops a ‘toolkit’ for bicycle facility design, and develops a strategy for prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian improvements. The HIA will also help inform the design of active transportation features included in future county transportation projects.
“We’re excited about this grant because the HIA will help us quantify the health benefits of investing in our active transportation infrastructure,” said Andrew Singelakis, the county’s Director of Land Use and Transportation. “It complements several efforts we already have underway.”
The most important health benefits of active transportation are those related to obesity and air quality. Making bicycle and pedestrian facilities more accessible encourages physical activity and supports healthy lifestyles. “Obesity among adults and children has increased sharply in the last 30 years making it a primary public health concern,” said Kathleen O’Leary, the county’s Public Health Administrator. “Increasing opportunities for physical activity is one strategy to address this issue.”
An HIA advisory coordinating committee will be created with representation from a broad range of organizations including county and city governments, citizen participation organizations, park and recreation departments, active transportation users and advocates, environmental advocates and traffic safety advocates. County staff expect to complete the HIA process and present their findings and conclusions to the Board of County Commissioners in September 2012.
Washington County is committed to promoting healthy communities by encouraging active lifestyles, building and maintaining the best transportation system, ensuring the safety of all roadway users, and operating the county roadway system in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner.
Wendy Gordon, HHS Communications Coordinator
Media Contact:Stephen Roberts, LUT Communications Coordinator