Baltimore-Washington Rail Intermodal Facility Health Impact Assessment

Project Funder: This project was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts with funding from The Kresge Foundation.

Project Contact: Rebecca Morley

Project Description: The purpose of the intermodal facility was to transfer containers between trucks and double-stacked trains in an effort to maximize the amount of long-distance freight cargo moved by rail. The facility posed potential health concerns to neighboring communities, including air and noise pollution, as well as a substantial increase in local truck traffic, leading to additional safety risks. However, construction and operation of the facility could have benefited health by creating local jobs and generating community tax revenue that would support services essential to health.

In 2012, NCHH began comparing the impacts of the proposed Baltimore-Washington Rail Intermodal Facility at several potential sites in the Baltimore-Washington region. In the fall of 2012, decision-makers at state and local levels selected a new site location for the facility, the existing Mount Clare Yard in the city of Baltimore. NCHH shifted its focus of the HIA to this new site location. NCHH conducted the HIA distinct from but parallel to state and local decision-making processes.

"Decisions about how goods are moved across the state and across the country are made every day,” stated then-Director Rebecca Morley. “Only in a few instances are those decisions looked at through the lens of public health. This project will enable NCHH to use its research expertise to help residents of Maryland understand the anticipated impact of the intermodal transfer facility on their health and provide input into the decision-making process."

The goal of this HIA was to use the findings and recommendations to improve both the consideration of health and the implementation of specific mitigation measures to protect health in the final project decisions.