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Twin Cities light rail project presents both opportunities and risks for health, according to report
Date:1/4/2012

WASHINGTONThe rezoning around a planned light rail line in the Twin Cities would create both opportunities and potential risks for the health of the people in the communities it would pass through, according to a health impact assessment (HIA) released today by PolicyLink, TakeAction Minnesota, and ISAIAH, a nonprofit coalition of 90 congregations of various faiths in the Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Cloud region. The HIA was made possible through a grant by the Health Impact Project, which is a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

An HIA is a study that helps policy makers identify the likely health impacts of a decision in a field outside of healthin this case, the assessment is informing the rezoning process for a billion-dollar light rail line connecting the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The HIA has been successful in incorporating health issues into the policy discussion, and helping policy makers and community members see how issues like employment and access to transit affect health.

"The health impact assessment of the light rail line in the Twin Cities shows the value of planning ahead. The HIA identifies benefits as well as unintended consequences, like the risk of displacing low-income residents along the corridor while there is still time to do something about them," said Aaron Wernham, M.D., director of the Health Impact Project. "For a decision like this, HIA can serve as a road map for decision makers who have to balance issues such as health and affordable housing with economic opportunities that come with transit and land-use planning."

The HIA highlighted the health benefits the light rail offers through increased access to transit, which connects people to grocery stores, doctors' offices, and other services. It would also facilitate access to jobs and bring customers to the many small and minority-owned businesses that line the corridor. Employment benefits
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Contact: Alex Dery Snider
aderysnider@pewtrusts.org
202-540-6590
Pew Health Group
Source:Eurekalert

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