Health Impact Assessment of Highway 61 Corridor Redesign, Grand Marais, MN
During spring 2014, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic identified a potential opportunity for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to be conducted in conjunction with a streetscape design process. As part of its Moving Matters project, the Clinic has partnered with the City of Grand Marais to explore safety concerns on the main corridor through Grand Marais: Minnesota State Highway 61. The Grand Marais City Council previously identified the current Highway 61 corridor to be a chief concern due to public feedback about crossing and traffic safety. After completing a screening process and receiving funding from the Minnesota Department of Health to pursue this HIA, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic initiated an HIA, with the local Active Living Steering Committee (ALSC). This HIA complemented the City of Grand Marais’ Highway 61 Redesign process planned for late 2014. The Highway 61 Redesign Process, called Highway 61 Revisited, was a series of public and stakeholder meetings to explore the role Highway 61 plays in the community and to consider alternate designs. The Highway 61 Revisited process continued into 2015; therefore, the HIA was completed in the summer of 2015.
HIAs allow health considerations to be brought into rigorous policy conversations, especially with processes focused on the built environment and social policies and plans that do not typically consider health. HIA is a “systematic process that uses an array of data sources and analytic methods and considers input from stakeholders to determine the potential effects of a proposed policy, plan, program, or project on the health of a population and the distribution of those effects within the population. HIA provides recommendations on monitoring and managing those effects.” The Active Living Steering Committee and the Moving Matters project, both being concerned with Highway 61 and safety, physical activity, and health, deemed an HIA a worthwhile pursuit to help ensure a Highway 61 project that will contribute to the health of the community. The Executive Summary provides an overview of this HIA process; however, the full report contains detailed information about the process, data gathered, and other in-depth discussions that are helpful for understanding the process and results of this HIA. Both are available for download to the right.