Welcome to the Buford Highway case study. The purpose of working through this case study is to give you the opportunity to experience the HIA process. Remember, each HIA is different and this is just one example.
Work with your team to complete the questions at the end of each section. Please do not move to the next step until you have heard the presentation about that step.
Begin by reading the background information about Buford Highway, reviewing the information given in the presentation, and answering the questions related to the screening process.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION Buford Highway is an automobile-oriented corridor near the urban fringe of Atlanta with post-World War II style development (low density, low connectivity, and low land-use mix). The area has strip malls, multi-unit housing, a noticeable lack of pedestrian amenities, and is bisected by a seven lane highway. The street layout has high design-speeds for automobiles, long blocks, few intersections, few crosswalks, and many cul-de-sacs. This area is a classic example of suburban, low density, auto-oriented development seen in many areas across the country.
Many of the residents surrounding Buford Highway in DeKalb County, Georgia are new immigrants, with 25% living outside the U.S. prior to 1995 (see Figure 1 for additional demographic information). The average family size is also large with an average of 3.44 people per household. Many households lack automobiles or only have one automobile available per family, meaning that transit-dependency and pedestrian activity is high, despite the lack of pedestrian facilities. This increased presence of a transit-dependent population in an area that has been designed and built primarily for automobile travel has lead to increasing conflicts between pedestrians and automobiles. Along an 8 mile section of Buford Highway there are on average 19 pedestrian injuries and 4 pedestrian fatalities per year.
Many developers are interested in turning the auto-orientated development around Buford Highway into a smart growth community (high density, mixed land-use, high street connectivity) that is pedestrian orientated. However, in order to do this they must demolish the existing low income housing. While there will be a net increase in density (number of units available) most of the plans call for housing that is substantially more expensive. The DOT is also willing to make certain changes to improve the pedestrian infrastructure as long as it does not impede automobile traffic flow.
A staff of 2 public health professionals and 2 planners who can dedicate 50% of their time for 1 year has been assigned to this project. Some additional help from architects and transportation professionals is also available but there is no money to pay them for their time. The plans for the development project are currently in the conception stage and it is estimated that you will have a year to provide recommendations to the DOT, stakeholders, and developers.
Figure 1.Comparison of the Distribution of Demographic Factors in the Atlanta MSA and the Buford Highway Project Area