When Health Departments Lead Transportation Planning


  • How state health departments' missions and goals relate to transportation planning .
  • Strategies for partnering with state health departments to advance local transportation-planning efforts .
  • How to leverage state health department funding, capacity, and resources effectively


Over the last 10 years, substantial progress has been made connecting (or rather, reconnecting) the fields of public health and planning. With this evolution, the role of health departments has evolved as well. With a large and growing body of research linking the built environment to health outcomes, health departments began to insert themselves into conversations about the built environment. Examine three examples of state health departments providing resources and expertise to develop transportation-planning programs that support broader goals of improved health. These efforts focus on active living, including its intersection with access to healthy foods and health equity. Their scope and reach speak to the opportunity that state health departments have to bring new resources to the transportation planning table, to influence priorities in transportation infrastructure, and to take a broader lens when measuring the impacts (positive or negative) of proposed transportation investments. Case studies from the Tennessee Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Health, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control provide three varied approaches to impacting local health outcomes through new partnerships, new funding resources, and multi-year strategies.