260711 Understanding the role of community and expert knowledge in assessing local impacts of transportation infrastructure

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Natalie Sampson, MPH , Department of Heath Behavior Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Edith A. Parker, DrPH , Department of Community and Behavioral Health, The University of Iowa, College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA
Amy J. Schulz, PhD , School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Larissa Larsen, PhD , Urban and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture, Taubman College, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Barbara A. Israel, DrPH , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Major U.S. freight gateways, where ports, railyards, or border facilities are located, have social, economic, and health implications for host communities that are frequently comprised of marginalized, low-income persons of color. Decision-making for new or significant modification of transportation infrastructure requires public engagement processes enabling community members to assess risks and make development recommendations. To understand how information is shared in this process, qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with approximately 25 community members and 25 policymakers and planners in Detroit, Michigan and Long Beach, California related to Detroit's proposed New International Trade Crossing and the Port of Long Beach. Researchers systematically focus-coded interview data. Findings highlight facilitators and challenges to public engagement, particularly related to the exchange of information between decision-makers and the host community. Common facilitators include accessible project staff; documents in multiple languages; public forums to learn from others' inquiries; and structures for engagement, such as advisory boards. Common challenges entail the technical nature and length of documents; misconceptions about decision-making processes and varying roles of project staff and legislators; competing economic priorities; inconsistency across government agencies; and skepticism predicated on outcomes of previous public engagement experiences. In addition to institutional data sources used to inform decisions, community-driven science, such as the collection of air quality data through ‘bucket brigades' and observational surveys of commercial truck traffic on residential streets, is described. While these findings are context-specific, they offer lessons for policymakers and residents to improve transportation decision-making at case sites and, potentially, other regions of the U.S.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
- List and describe facilitators and barriers to public engagement in transportation decision-making -List and describe government and community data sources for assessing environmental health risks in transportation decision-making

Keywords: Planning, Community Participation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As part of my dissertation, I conceptualized the research questions for this study, conducted all interviews, and analyzed data. I have participated in research related to public health, planning, and environmental risks for over a decade.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.