California High-Speed Rail: San Jose to Merced Corridor

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Health Impact Project

Graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley conducted an HIA to add value to decision-making regarding design alternatives for the San Jose to Merced corridor of the California High-Speed Rail. The study identified opportunities for health benefits as well as risks and negative health costs. The HIA found that the direct employment benefits of the rail project might not fully serve the needs of corridor residents; chronic unemployment or underemployment would likely have myriad negative health impacts among residents throughout the corridor. The HIA also found that there would likely be an increased use of transit and active transportation options, but that the shift away from automobile use might not yield substantial reductions in air pollution or mitigation of adverse health conditions associated with poor air quality. These findings apply only to this area, not the larger segment/corridor or statewide project. The HIA made several short- and long-term recommendations, including enacting a local hiring policy, working with regional and local agencies to ensure design mitigations of pedestrian risks from increased vehicle flow in and around parking lots and stations, and making all spatial and nonspatial data created and collected for planning publicly funded projects easily accessible by the public.


This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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