Effects of Infill Development and Regional Growth on At-Risk Populations' Exposure to Traffic Density

Existing research demonstrates that at-risk populations—groups with demographic, economic, social, or physical characteristics who are disproportionately vulnerable to adverse health outcomes—are more likely to be exposed to heavy traffic and air pollution. This disparity is a problem because numerous adverse health outcomes—including lung cancer, premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and asthma, poor birth outcomes, and injury—are associated with living close to high-traffic roads and being exposed to high traffic density. However, to fully understand how exposure affects at-risk populations, the project needs to consider two inter-related issues. First, estimates of traffic exposure depend on the spatial scale of investigation. Disparities in traffic exposure identified in studies at the national level are often heterogeneous at a regional scale. For example, Rowangould (2013) found that low-income and minority households are, on average, more likely to live near high volume roadways; yet, there are counties “where no disparities are present, or where disparities work in the opposite direction”. Therefore, to learn what mechanisms underlie disparities in traffic exposure, the project must investigate this question at the regional level. The second issue is that the distribution of traffic density across a region is a function of transportation and land use policies and plans. “Smart growth” strategies, such as urban infill and open space protection, may increase population densities in areas with highest traffic density. However, these strategies may actually decrease disparities in exposure to traffic density if new residents in high- traffic areas are from higher income groups. Thus, older patterns in health disparities may no longer be true today. Integrating public health concerns into transportation and land use planning requires additional knowledge about the effects of such policies.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $120000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Colorado Denver

    Denver, Colorado  United States  80204
  • Principal Investigators:

    McAndrews, Carolyn

    Marshall, Wesley

  • Start Date: 20150805
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180731
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170628
  • Source Data: MPC-488

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01579925
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC38
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Oct 27 2015 3:50PM