Pediatrician Clara Filice and internist Gregg Furie are interested in how the built environment impacts health. Their newest patient, or case, is going to be the health impacts of the evolving Downtown Crossing/Route 34 project, which involves filling in part of the mini-highway connected to I-95, putting up an office tower, and building new pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets.
At a public workshop on Downtown Crossing Tuesday nigiht, Director of City Plan Karyn Gilvarg announced that the young doctors, both associated with the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale School of Medicine, will perform a health impact assessment working in concert with the city and its design team on Downtown Crossing.
Furie described the assessment as “a relatively new tool for urban planners to identify impacts and minimize adverse effects in advance.”
He said he and Filice have chosen three areas to work on: pedestrian and bike safety; increasing activities for walkers; and decreasing accidents.
The city’s consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff project manager Bob Brooks welcomed the young doctors. He said that that over the past three years there have been approximately 200 accidents annually in the Route 34 corridor between Church and York.
The doctors are in the beginning stages of their assessment with a goal to inform the design process. Yet they have already encountered what appears to be a problem: In an area relatively denuded of population: “We’re trying to identify who is the community we’re going to solicit [for information],” said Furie..